Dagerman

STIG DAGERMAN (1923-1954), Swedish writer and journalist, broke onto the literary scene at twenty-two. He enjoyed phenomenal success publishing four very different novels, a unique travel book from Germany in 1946, short stories – one of which became an instant classic – as well as essays, poetry, and plays. He was a prolific commentator on current events through satirical verse. Then, suddenly, he fell silent. In 1954, Sweden was stunned to learn that Stig Dagerman, the epitome of his generation of writers, had been found dead in his car. Read more

Journalism

GERMAN AUTUMN

Dagerman describes all of it with a ferocious lucidity that does not admit hyperbole or sentimentality. He is concerned to tell the truth, to show the world as it is because only then can a clear idea be formed of what ought to happen next.

—Aaron Thier,  The New Republic

German Autumn is one of the best collections ever written about the aftermath of war.

–Henning Mankell for the US edition

Stig Dagerman Award 2022 Recipient:

Maryja Kalesnikava,
Belorusian musician
and political activist

Short Stories

SLEET and Other Short Stories

Dagerman knows how to use silence, stillness, the half-said,  the understated in order to dramatize states of deep raw  feeling … Short days, cold air, the nervous glance, the glimpse,  the night without sleep, are the bricks with which he builds  his fictional houses filled with shadows and unresolved pain,  but filled also with a stark tenderness, at times a grim humor,  in the face of uneasiness and loss.

–Colm Tóibín, The New York Review of Books

Novel

A MOTH TO A FLAME

Dagerman is excellent on how our motives can be

a mystery even to ourselves … this searing tale of

bereavement and loathing feels all too relevant today.

 The Guardian

 

A startling novel of ferocious psychological acumen ….

A book for our times.

Siri Hustvedt, preface to Penguin UK edition

Dagerman wrote with beautiful objectivity. Instead of emotive phrases, he uses a choice of facts, like bricks, to construct an emotion. —Graham Greene, cover of U.S. edition of The Games of Night, 1961

Essay/Prose Poem

OUR NEED FOR CONSOLATION IS INSATIABLE

… a friend of mine lent me the book and it just hit me

instantly. I believe there are moments when certain

things need to be heard and I felt Dagerman’s text,

which he wrote back in 1952, is just so topical now.

The way I read it, his text is an anthem to freedom. 

–Christian Olivier, singer in Têtes Raides

 

Stellan Skarsgård in Our Need for Consolation

Novel

WEDDING WORRIES

Wedding Worries is an incredible book …

the most Faulknerian book that I’ve read in years …

There’s so much to like here, so much giggling

and joy amid the pure run-down, dissolute,

messed-up set of characters and desires …

I urge you to stock it, buy it, read it, recommend it.  

— Chad Post, Three Percent Blog

Novel

THE SNAKE

Dagerman’s novel is a cry for individual responsibility

and freedom, as well as a spirited work of resistance

to the conventions of bourgeois life, which restrain

and stupefy people. And it is a call for free thought

and speech to clarify what should be done.

–Siri Hustvedt, Living, Thinking, Looking

Plays

MARTY’S SHADOW

Absorbing, Great acting, Great staging, Clever,

Thought-provoking

Reviews of Marty‘s Shadow staged by the August

Strindberg Repertory Theater, New York

“Marty’s Shadow” – filmed play here

“The Making of a Man” – documentary about the play here

Prose Fragment

A THOUSAND YEARS WITH GOD

If the novel about Almqvist had been completed and the power, that characterizes its first chapter, had been sustained, it would have become Stig Dagerman’s finest oeuvre.

–Olof Lagercrantz, Stig Dagerman, quote translated from the Swedish by Lo Dagerman

Novel

ISLAND OF THE DOOMED

All of Dagerman’s oeuvre, his novels, poems and

political essays are in some way contained in this

stormy novel, in its whirl of sensations and images …

With humble gratitude to Stig Dagerman who, in

order to show us the way, let himself be consumed

by his own fire.

–JMG Le Clézio, Nobel laureate, preface to US edition

Satirical Verse

SATIRICAL VERSE

Legendary Swedish troubadour Fred Åkerström

sings texts by Joe Hill and Stig Dagerman on his

album “Dagsedlar åt kapitalismen” mocking

capitalism.

Poetry

BIRGITTA SUITE AND OTHER POEMS

Never in my wildest dreams did I see myself translating Stig Dagerman’s magnificent “Birgitta Suite,” with its universal themes of love and loss and heartache. My knowledge of Swedish is quite limited, but with Stig Dagerman’s daughter guiding the way, I was able to draw on my poetic sensibilities to help bring the music of this capstone poem to an English-speaking audience.

– Nancy Naomi Carlson reading of Birgitta Suite

 

“Flight Sought Us Out” reading by 3 immigrants

to Sweden in Swedish with English translation.

An imagination that appeals to ‘an unreasonable degree of sympathy’ is precisely what makes Dagerman’s fiction so evocative. Evocative not, as one might expect, of despair, or bleakness, or existential angst, but of compassion, fellow-feeling, even love. — Alice McDermott, preface to SLEET