One day, as Isabella Nilsson is listening to the radio, she hears a famous actor say:
It’s not a dream! I fear it’s not even madness! Far too much has already...
And there, mid-sentence, the signal drops. Thunder rumbles outside. When the signal returns, the actor is no longer there. Now there’s a woman talking about redcurrant jam.
This is what it’s like to read Isabella’s book. Published in 2022, En bok för ingen (“A book for no one”, not published in English) is inviting, despite the interruptions and broken trains of thought, and bubbling with new ideas. Though we find ourselves in all weathers, it’s a quite wonderful convergence.
Nilsson uses Friedrich Nietzsche’s collection of aphorisms The Gay Science (1882) to establish both connection and disconnection. As you read, you feel knowledgeable, but you also question what you thought you knew. She goes head-to-head with the essay’s many tests and is not afraid to push its limits.
But what does it mean? It means that Nilsson has taken a different approach, adopting only the headings and the bold attitude, of course. Though everything can be subject to sharp analysis, it is all authored with a gentle hand. Nilsson’s ear for language is striking, and she takes every opportunity to find new meanings in words. She writes about Christianity, egoism, childhood friends, conscience, the origin of logic, the desire to suffer, hunger problems and appetites – and surprises the reader by embracing the subjects that try to slip away unaddressed.
Isabella Nilsson, born in Skövde in 1989, debuted in 2011 with the young people’s novel Verklighetsprojektet, followed by Nonsensprinsessans dagbok in 2018, which was nominated for the 2019 Nordic Council Literature Prize. In this, her latest book, which is at ease and ill at ease in equal measure, Nilsson takes us on new adventures, such as when she relays stepping off a train in Paris three times but never coming across anything she hasn’t already read about the city. She writes and demonstrates elegantly that being at odds with oneself is more interesting than duplicating oneself. En bok för ingen marks Isabella Nilsson as one of Sweden’s younger author talents. She has created a sharply chiselled work where every sentence has seemingly been weighed on a scale for gold.