It is a special feeling to read about your own era as if it was the past. Johanna Hedman’s much talked-about debut novel The Trio has been described as both timeless and very contemporary, and that is partly true. The majority of the book is set in the present time, during a vaguely defined 2010s, and tells the story of three young people, Thora, Hugo and August, and their powerful yet complex bond. But: the timeline has a twist due to the first part of the novel where Thora’s grown-up daughter Frances pays a visit to Hugo in New York. This creates an effect of the present being shrouded in the mists of time. Johanna Hedman’s debut is vigorous. With this friendship and love between three young adults, it joins a long tradition of literary love triangles. It is difficult not to mention Lydia Sandgren’s Collected Works which was somewhat based on the same ingredients, but Hedman’s style and tone is different; more subdued, more wistful. She describes her fictional characters with sensitivity and precision, but what makes The Trio so dynamic is the way the present becomes memory in her hands.
An acute, eloquent and bittersweet debut about three friends in their twenties – Thora, Hugo and August – which moves between Stockholm, Paris and New York. Flaming love and reflections on identity and class, where the perspectives shift between the three of them. There may potentially be an August Prize nomination!
It is a conventional framework – first the scars, then the wounds; first the punishment, then the crimes – but the cliché does not feel disruptive, the implicit nostalgia works its magic: The Trio is a story of when life gained colour and shape. I mean this as praise. The Trio is an unusual debut, confident and intriguing.
The Trio is vigorous and vivid – even linguistically. It is evident that Johanna Hedman has a keen interest in language. Descriptions of words, dialects and mother tongues are abundant. And words can be explained as hard around the edges and sticky at the centre /… / The Trio is a wistful and engaging novel about festering emotions. Johanna Hedman should definitely be able to expect at least a debutant award.
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