Chair no. 5 – Ingrid Carlberg

Author and journalist
Inducted: 2021

Ingrid Carlberg was born in 1961 and grew up in Surahammar in south-central Sweden. She now lives in Österåker, outside Stockholm. She has studied political science, economics and literature. From 1990 to 2010 she worked on literary and investigative reportage at the Dagens Nyheter national daily, also contributing to editorials. Between 2012-2013 she was a visiting professor of journalism at the University of Gothenburg. 

Carlberg began with children’s books. Her first, the text-based Jag heter Rosalie (2001; “My name is Rosalie”), quickly became a series: Rosalie på djupt vatten (2003; “Rosalie ) and Rosalies hemliga kompis (2005; “Rosalie’s secret friend”). Her young adult novel, Min bror Benjamin (2004; “My brother Benjamin”) looks at the complicated psychological dynamics of bullying. 

Her reportage book, Pillret. En berättelse om depressioner och doktorer, forskare och Freud, människor och marknader (2008; “The Pill. A story of depressions and doctors, researchers and Freud, people and markets”) gave Carlberg thematic direction in her non-fiction. The book won Sweden’s Guldspaden award for investigative journalism and in 2010 she was conferred an honorary doctorate of medicine at the University of Uppsala. 

In the past decade Carlberg has produced two comprehensive biographies. The first, ”Det står ett rum här och väntar på dig …” Berättelsen om Raoul Wallenberg (2012; “‘There is a room waiting for you here…’ The story of Raoul Wallenberg), was the result of prodigious archival research shedding new light on Wallenberg’s life and his unknown fate in Soviet imprisonment. The book was awarded the August Prize 2012 for the best Swedish non-fiction work. The second biography was Nobel. Den gåtfulle Alfred, hans värld och hans pris (2019; “Nobel. The mysterious Alfred, his world and his prize”), portraying Alfred Nobel’s life as a scientist, his historical context, and his cosmopolitan life. Here too, the story builds on archival research in several countries and the scrutiny of thousands of letters. Carlberg exhaustively maps Nobel’s connections with contemporary intellectuals, among them the Austrian author and Peace Prize laureate Bertha von Suttner. The drama of wrenching family dissension over Nobel’s will is given new light in the book.

Carlberg describes her method as “creative non-fiction”, aiming for a narrative broader than biographical portraiture. Writing from a living historical context provides a slice of mindset history for the people and environments she depicts. The reader accompanies the writer through extended intervals of archival research, interviews and travel. Carlberg combines academic-level scientific precision with the curiosity of the investigative journalist in literarily imbued non-fiction.  

In 2020 Carlberg was awarded the King’s Medal for “significant contributions as an author”. Alongside writing, Carlberg has been a member of the board at Swedish PEN and the Swedish Publicists’ Association as well as other groups.

She succeeded Göran Malmqvist on Chair no. 5 in the Swedish Academy.