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Fantastic Reviews for Amanda Svensson’s “The Telegraph of the Soul”

Photo: Robin Rådenman


Following her International Booker Prize nomination earlier this year, Amanda Svensson now makes her return with much-anticipated novel The Telegraph of the Soul which has garnered lots of praise in the Swedish press over these past few days. Here is a selection of the many accolades the book has received:

Svensson’s story zigzags through relationships, anecdotes and memories. The outset is an interplay between two timelines, Somerset 1992 and Glasgow six years later, and she allows Iris to convey everything through a vigorous first-person account. Here we find a heartfelt sensibility for nature and a careful documentation of intimate details, but also a comprehensive reflection on the political and financial status. Iris is permitted to be both curious, emotional, and inquisitive, but also disobedient, crass and despondent /… / The Telegraph of the Soul is a maze-like novel about love, secrets and trying to make sense of the incomprehensible. It’s a very moving story, with an impressive structure (Svenska Dagbladet)

Amanda Svensson has condensed her novel to 250 solid pages, but it feels just as rich as the latest tome. The prose is taut and exact, but still indicates the amount of research material that has shaped it; the world politics and its crises are as lucid as the depictions of Iris’ daily life. At the same time the story of the financial crisis of the early 1990s, via the collapse in 2008, reaches all the way into our present time of recession and financial woe /… / The whole caboodle is seamlessly constructed but is also genuinely thought-provoking and Svensson steadily maintains her position as one of the most interesting writers of her generation (Sydsvenskan)

Svensson’s portrayal of the unfamiliar time and place is laid-back, almost carefree. Hence why it works so well. There are no unnecessary time markers. The reader is not constantly reminded about where and when the story takes place. Everything is commonplace and normal. But surely it can’t be a coincidence that Iris and Rupert’s band Soul Telegraph shares so many traits with Belle & Sebastian? The boys meet through a municipal music project for jobseekers, Iris plays the cello, Rupert is raised a Christian and according to a student magazine, their music is comprised of: “the same amount of gentle folk music, low-key 1960s psychedelia, catchy pop and lyrics reflecting a self-referential, sometimes acerbic, but always remarkable lyrical humour.” Occasionally I spot what may be a translated sentence from the band in the text. Iris’ dark and peculiar fate feels like it came straight out of one of their songs. Perhaps the entire Anglo-Saxon literary tradition that Amanda Svensson belongs to, can be compared with Belle & Sebastian. Much like their music, it often balances between intelligent shrewdness and cheerful commercialism.  With The Telegraph of the Soul, Svensson takes a large and wonderful step away from the latter. I personally hope it will be permanent (Göteborgs-Posten)

Ever since her debut with Hey Dolly (2008), Amanda Svensson has possessed a rare dynamic energy that incites happiness. She writes with effervescence, in a candid and commanding manner, with a sense of style that rapidly shifts between bold humour and colossal urgency /… / With the monumental family epic A System So Magnificent it is Blinding, Svensson saw her big breakthrough four years ago. It’s a matter of taste of course, but I was more impressed with the craftsmanship than I was moved. The Telegraph of the Soul is smaller in scope, but closer to the heart (Dagens Nyheter)

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