Caterina Pascual Söderbaum - The Oblique Place - Quercus

The Oblique Place

By Caterina Pascual Söderbaum

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A family chronicle with roots in the dark history of the twentieth century.

A family chronicle with roots in the dark history of the twentieth century.

"Caterina Pascual Söderbaum has left a major European literary work of art as her legacy, a work of art that all of us who had the privilege of getting to know her have now been able to behold in its final form" STEVE SEM-SANDBERG, author of Emperor of Lies

From idyllic Lake Attersee in Austria, where the employees at Nazi Germany's euthanasia clinics and extermination camps are sent for a well-deserved rest. To Hartheim Castle, where the staff of the regime's euthanasia programme forget the horrors taking place within the castle walls with the help of alcohol and sex. To the summer residence Villa Saint-Jean, where malnourished children from France's internment camps are sent to recover.

In Uppsala, the novel's narrator scours her mother's albums for photographs from her childhood. They are from her christening, taken in the family's flat on Calle Balmes in Spanish Lérida; she is resting in her father's arms. In the next picture he toasts the camera, dressed in the uniform of Franco fascism and with his right arm extended. A whole family history in just a few photographs: a grandfather who joined Hitler's army; a father who dreamed of war and ended up in the Spanish Sahara; a mother who shares her surname with Kristina Söderbaum, a celebrated film star of the Third Reich. And the child in a white christening gown, who will become a mother herself and one day travel along the shores of Lake Attersee.

An Oblique Place is an exceptional literary journey, a multifaceted, achingly beautiful narrative unlike any other, that in evocative, flowing prose examines whether guilt can be passed down through generations. In a fusion of memories and history, the late Caterina Pascual Söderbaum explores how Europe lost itself in a period of darkness.

Translated from the Swedish by Frank Perry

Biographical Notes

Caterina Pascual Söderbaum, 1962-2015, lived between Sweden and Spain and worked as a translator of Swedish literature into Spanish. Her first book, a collection of short stories entitled Sonetten om andningen (The Sonett on Breathing) (Lejd förlag, 2002), won Sweden's Catapult Prize for best first work of fiction. An Oblique Place was to be her last novel, and was awarded the prestigious Sveriges Radios Novel Prize posthumously.

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  • ISBN: 9780857057259
  • Publication date: 22 Mar 2018
  • Page count:
  • Imprint: MacLehose Press
As I was being drawn into this shimmering, meandering, luminescent novel I felt impatience and reverence in equal measure . . . initially, I would read a few pages and put the book down, only then to be unable to tear myself away, unwilling to stop being inside it . . . every page, every person, a space - a place - to be in, the experience lives on outside the pages of the book . . . The whole world can be found in Caterina Pascual Söderbaum's An Oblique Place — Anna Jörgensdotter, Arbetarbladet
A novel constructed on a grand scale, with rare architectonic ambition and finesse, a novel that inhabits its own world — Kristoffer Leandoer, Svenska Dagbladet
Getting a glimpse of truly great writing is always earth shattering. It is both exhilarating and gruelling. Where should I start? With the images, with the thoughts, with the insights? With the language, that rises like the mountains around me. Majestic. Impregnable. And appealing. Caterina Pascual Söderbaum's novel communicates this feeling. — Maria Schottenius, Dagens Nyheter
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