Omslagsbild: Bakvatten

Date of release: 2020-03-11
Pages: 272
Sold to: Finland: Atena, Germany: Nagel & Kimche, Netherlands: Wereldbibliotheek
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Bakvatten /Troubled Water

There rests Nilas, hidden under the moss with frosted flowers on his cheeks. Lying next to treacherous moorland and rapid forest streams, the same spot where Hebbe once died. Everyone believes that Nilas has drowned, that he has been swallowed by the Vindel River. Several decades will pass before the spring flood reveals what really happened.

This is the story about a handful of people whose destinies are inexorably tied together by Nilas’ disappearance in the mid-1960s, about before and after. It is the story of Assar’s forbidden desire for Margareta, about Håkan who longs for a father but who gains a little brother, about Håkan’s girlfriend Petra who, many years later, decides to dig out the truth nestling beneath layers of age-old secrets and distressing memories.

Troubled Water is a novel about loneliness, longing, village gossip and how far the conscience can reach.

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…a magnificent story about a northern Swedish village /… / Broberg’s writing is sinuously beautiful, vibrant and with a foreboding tone that provides a stark contrast to the taciturn dialogue. In addition, she mercilessly penetrates the psychological aspects, allowing desire and agony to appear completely undisguised with both despair and crudity. At the same time, there are examples of difficult choices made in order to soothe loneliness and to survive /… / I read Troubled Water without stopping and am impressed by the smooth shifts in the complex structure and how certain details echo throughout the whole story. It is a very powerful debut, that makes me curious about Broberg’s next move.
Svenska Dagbladet
The agonizing family saga itself is engaging enough, and Assar and Margareta’s infatuation is captured with reticent but acute sensitivity, but the novel’s forte can mainly be found in the prose. Everyone knows about classic Västerbotten authors such as Lidman, Enquist and Lindgren, and a more recent, distinct voice like Stina Stoor has also added remarkable linguistic flavour to this barren part of the world. Maria Broberg is yet another compelling voice to emerge out of here. Her prose is deeply connected to the area and has a natural vigor and expression, that should make most southern writers turn green with envy /… / Maria Broberg is not concerned with expending details about the nature and setting that surrounds the characters, even though it is evidently part of her own everyday world. With precision she inserts enough patches of snow and ramshackle barns to supply the story with profound atmosphere. During this Corona age many of us have more time to read. Go ahead and please do start with Troubled Water!
Troubled Water is a dramatic, intense and subtle story with a strong sense of place. Multi-faceted and polyphonic. I am deeply impressed by Maria Broberg’s prose – the Västerbotten tonality is supremely captured – and by her ability to portray nuanced and complex characters. I will never be able to forget either Margareta, Håkan, Lars or Assar.
Nilas’ death in the mid-1960s is the catalyst for Maria Broberg’s debut novel Troubled Water, its dark heart, but it is the time before and after his short life that the story portrays: the mother’s secret love affair, the brother’s lifelong guilt /… / Broberg writes with a subtle poise that feels unusual for a debutant; she is unconcerned with gestures, confident that the story is strong enough. It is tempting to say that Västerbotten literature has gained yet another tremendous storyteller, but it may be slightly premature. There is, however, no doubt that the region has gained yet another tremendous story.
Tidningen Vi

Maria Broberg (born 1977) grew up in Piteå but has been based in the remote northern Swedish village of Nedre Saxnäs for the past decade – a place that inspired her to write Troubled Water.

She has a background in arts journalism and today she works with public relations and as a freelance writer. 

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