Chair no. 16 - Anna-Karin Palm
Anna-Karin Palm was born in 1961 and grew up in Stockholm. In the late 1980s, she embarked on a doctoral program in literary studies, but ultimately came to prioritise her fiction writing. She debuted in 1991 with her novel Faunen (The Faun), which consists of three separate stories from different eras that together form a whole. Myths, fairy tales and ekphrases (literary descriptions of art works) form the basis both of this work and of her later collection of short stories Utanför bilden (Outside the Picture; 1992). Palm made her major breakthrough with the novel Målarens döttrar (The Painter’s Daughters; 1997), which would later be translated into many different languages. Here, too, Palm works with parallel narrative structures, while art and creation once again return as a dominant theme. In this work, along with several of her others, Palm can be said to ally herself with a British tradition of storytelling, in kinship with writers such as Virginia Woolf.
Om Vänskap (On Friendship), published in 2007, consists of a number of dialogic essays written together with the author and philosopher Kate Larson. Later acclaimed works include the novel Snöängel (Snow Angel: 2011), in which a present-day Tintomara character appears and connects the Swedish eighteenth and twentieth centuries. The 2014 short story collection Jaktlycka (The Thrill of the Hunt) features protagonists who differ widely in both age and their life situations, although there are recurring themes such as femininity, sexuality, independence and the subjective experience of objectification.
Palm’s major biography of Selma Lagerlöf, Jag vill sätta världen i rörelse (I Want to Set the World in Motion), was published in 2019 and later nominated for the August Prize. The book is a broad presentation of Lagerlöf’s life and work but with a particular focus on her creative processes, world view and personal attitude to writing.
Jag skriver över ditt ansikte (Writing Over Your Face; 2021) concerns the suffering and death of the author’s mother from Alzheimer’s disease, and is centred upon the dynamic intersection between confusion and the pursuit of clarity. Alternating between shorter and longer sections, as well as between the present and the past, her portrayal of the mother’s life journey allows family relationships and history to emerge in a new and clearer light.
Palm has also been active as an author of children’s books. Notable among these are Vildvinter (Wild Winter, 1999) with illustrations by Anna Bengtsson, and the Vilma stories, illustrated by Magda Korotynska. In addition, she has worked as a freelance publishing editor, a reader and a columnist for Dagens Nyheter. She has also been a member of the editorial team for the literary journal 80TAL/90TAL.
Anna-Karin Palm was elected to chair number 16 at the Swedish Academy on 27 April 2023. She assumed her post at the Annual Grand Ceremony on 20 December of the same year, succeeding the author and literary historian Kjell Espmark.