Karin Alvtegen: Shadow
Canadian publication March 2010
En français : Ténébreuses
In a nondescript apartment block in Stockholm, most of the residents are elderly. Usually a death is a sad but straightforward event. But sometimes a resident will die and there are no friends or family to contact. This is when Marianne Folkesson arrives, employed by the state to close up a life with dignity and respect. Gerda Persson has lain dead in her apartment for three days before Marianne is called. When she arrives, she finds the apartment tidy and ordered. Gerda’s life seems to have been quite ordinary. Until Marianne opens the freezer and finds it full of books, neatly stacked and wrapped in clingfilm, a thick layer of ice covering them. They are all by Axel Ragnerfeldt, winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature, with handwritten dedications to Gerda from the author. What story do these books have to tell, about Gerda, and more importantly about Ragnerfeldt, a man whose fame is without precedent in the nation’s cultural life, but seldom gives interviews?
Shadow is an utterly compelling novel about the lengths and depths people can be driven in order to achieve fame and acclaim, and the effect that this has on those closest to them. It is a story of dark family secrets, and the power of writing, involving murder, betrayal and the holocaust, which will keep readers gripped until its final thrilling revelations.