XXIV edition
9/14 December 2014


Swedish relations

When he started writing
The Swimmer, Swedish novelist Joakim Zander knew exactly what he was after: "From the beginning I knew I wanted to address three main themes: Brussels, the relationship between the West and the Middle East, and the ties between a father and his daughter. As far as the first was concerned, I wanted to reveal the workings of the European Parliament, where I worked myself for several years, in an intriguing way, going behind the scenes of all those decisions we hear about on the evening news. The headquarters has all the ingredients you need to write a thriller: money, power and ambition. I’d just had my first child when I started the book, a daughter; I was carried away by the idea of fatherhood and wanted to convey this in the book, in pages that practically wrote themselves."

There’s a "dual nature" to
The Swimmer, which "follows in the familiar footsteps of the thriller," on the one hand, while also concentrating on the relationship between the two main characters, "a little girl and a man who’s trying to hide from his past." About the plot, Zander observes, "I like fast-moving stories, but usually when I read a book I want to get something more out of it, something that makes me think. That’s why I tried to give readers an experience that goes behind the conventional genre novel."

This "emotional core," as the author calls it, will be found in his next novel as well, currently in progress, which hinges on a brother-sister relationship instead of father-daughter. "If it hadn’t been for other writers like Stieg Larsson," Zander admits, referring to the newfound popularity of Scandinavian novels in Italy and around the world, "I think it would have been very difficult for
The Swimmer to win the acclaim and the wide readership that it is enjoying now."