this book could be called Zero Hour. I have done a
few searches, but was unable to find anything that confirmed that the
book has actually been translated in to English. It has, however, been translated
into German, and as it won Swedish Radio's Novel Prize for 2015 I
would assume that an English translation is on its way.
be perfectly honest, at the outset I did not like the book. It is
made up of three separate stories, each of them with a woman as the
central character, and I worked my way through many pages trying to
find the links (or even just one link) between the stories. After
about 100 pages, I decided that were most probably no links, and I
set about appreciating each story on its own merits. Having made this
decision, I found that I began to enjoy the book, and by the end was
pleased that I had persevered. The three stories are linked, but the
links are not always obvious. After my initial scepticism, I decided
that it is a book worth reading.
first story, set in 1945 at the end of the war, introduces us to
Hedwig, an author who is trying to find her half-Jewish daughter. At
the beginning of the war, she had sent the child off with a group of
other children, naively believing that she was doing the right thing.
Her priority is her writing; it is not until she is faced with the
after-war chaos that she begins to reassess her motives.
second story concerns Isa, a young girl living in 1980s Uppsala,
Sweden. Isa is seeing a psychologist because of aggression and
anti-social behaviour, and is trying to create a new world order. She
is very dependent on a radio broadcaster known only as the 'Voice in
the Radio'. The third story is about Isa's psychologist, Ingrid
(though we do not realize that she is Isa's psychologist until more
than halfway through the book). It is 2005 and Ingrid has given up
her practice and has moved to the Stockholm archipelago with her husband,
a priest suffering from the early stages of Parkinson's Disease.
Ingrid's world is turned upside down when her husband acts completely
out of character, and Ingrid has to ask herself what she really wants
out of life.
stories can be related back to the title, Zero Hour – a point when
everything stands in ruins and life has to begin again. There is
guilt and shame, but there are also small rays of light indicating a
more positive, if not happier, future. The book is dedicated to
Cordelia Edvardson (author and journalist), who survived Auschwitz
and was given refuge in Sweden. What is not at all clear is that
Hedwig's missing daughter and Isa's 'Voice in the Radio' is this
Cordelia (referred to in the book only as 'the girl'). In Edvardson's
autobiographical novel Bränt barn söker sig till elden
(Burnt Child Seeks the Fire), she also uses the expression
'the girl' in reference to herself; however, if one has not read
Edvardson's book (or read it thirty years ago when it was first
published and has since forgotten the nuances), this connection can
be completely missed.
feel that the dilemmas facing the three women in the novel are
beautifully described and developed, and even if the reader has never
heard of Cordelia Edvardson there is plenty in the novel to inspire
thought long after the last page has been turned and the book has