Sara Stridsberg: Beckomberga: Ode till min familj (Gravity of Love)


The latest addition to my website is Sara Stridsberg‘s Ode till min familj (Gravity of Love). This is Sara Stridsberg’s first novel translated into English (another one will be published in 2017). Not surprisingly, her work is available in nine other languages. This one is set primarily in the Beckomberga psychiatric hospital, an actual hospital just outside Stockholm, which was closed in 1995. It is narrated by Jackie, daughter of Jim, a serial alcoholic, philanderer and would-be suicide. After his wife, Jackie’s mother, Lone, leaves him, he attempts suicide one more time and is sent to Beckomberga. Jackie, who is a teenager, visits him regularly but he eventually rejects her, refusing to see her unless Lone comes as well. Lone refuses and is hell-bent on travelling around the world to see the various trouble spots. Three of the characters do commit suicide and Jim continues to try and threaten to do so, even long after he has been released from the hospital and remarried (and redivorced). Jackie struggles with her life as a single mother, unable to have a satisfactory relationship with others. This is a fairly bleak book about mental illness and those who live with those who have mental illness, with Stridsberg effectively showing the struggles that those involved go through.

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