Chair No. 13 − Anne Swärd
Author Anne Swärd was born in 1969 in Troedsberga, in southern Skåne province. After graduating from grammar school in Klippan, where she followed the humanities path, she moved to Stockholm in 1988. Then, after university studies in social anthropology and other subjects, she attended the University of Arts, Crafts and Design, majoring in art education and specializing in photography and painting. While there, she spent a lengthy period as an exchange student at the Limerick School of Art and Design in Ireland. In the late 1990s, she undertook a year-long remote course in writing at Nordiska Folkhögskolan. Subsequently, in 1999-2001, a basic course then additional courses at the writers’ college at Nordens Folkhögskola Biskops-Arnö. Anne Swärd has also taught art and worked in journalism, writing on cultural issues.
Since 1993, with a few short breaks in Stockholm, she has lived at various sites in Österlen, a coastal region in the south. She has also had lengthy stays and writing sessions abroad, in New York, Athens, Rome, Paris, Berlin and other places. In 2017 Anne Swärd moved to an old farmhouse at Fyledalen outside Ystad.
She made her debut as a novelist in 2003 with the publication of Polarsommar (“Arctic Summer”), nominated for the August Prize. From that start – a family drama kaleidoscopically skewed with the perspective of six family members – Swärd attained an international readership base, and her novels have to date been translated into about twenty languages.
That debut was followed in 2006 by Kvicksand (“Quicksand”), a multi-layered, socially critical, future dystopia based in Copenhagen, centred on intimate lives. It won her the inaugural Mare Kandre Prize.
In 2010 came Breathless. It has been said of this third novel that it sensitively and powerfully swings between strong polarities such as harshness and beauty, ice and fire, north and south, at the same time not omitting what takes place in the tabooed territory between the story’s two young protagonists, whose deep and secret bond is subjected to scrutiny and challenge from others.
Akta dig för kärleken (“Watch Out for Love”) is the title of an omnibus published in 2015 to present all her novels in a single volume with a new foreword by the author. A year later, Anne Swärd was awarded the first Helga Prize in accordance with the spirit of Hjalmar Söderberg.
In 2017 came her novel Vera, set in France, Poland and Sweden, before, during and after the second world war. The novel won critical acclaim and was translated into several languages. It treated escape and survival, guilt and opposition, and was a further breakthrough into a large and wide readership.
In early 2020, her fifth novel, Jackie, will be published by Albert Bonniers Förlag.
Alongside novels, Anne Swärd has published short stories in newspapers, literary journals and anthologies, and written for media on literary subjects, often with an international outlook.
The international perspective is of marked interest for her. The translations of her books have brought many opportunities for cultural exchange and the chance to spread Swedish literature abroad. She has participated in translation seminars, literature festivals, book fairs, panel debates on literary and contemporary issues, and other international cultural events and university functions in Europe, the USA, China, North Africa and Latin America, at the initiative of the Swedish Arts Council, the Swedish Institute, the Nordic Council of Ministers, the EU, and Swedish embassies in relevant countries as well as a number of international literary organisations. The global aspect is especially important to Anne Swärd - to participate in and contribute to various international and multi-cultural fora. Upcoming is her attendance at one of Latin America’s biggest book fair, FILBo 2020, i Bogotá, Colombia.
In 2019 she succeeded author Sara Stridsberg on Chair No. 13 in the Swedish Academy.