A Metro book of the year.
As the clock strikes the end of the war, the time begins to turn towards a new age — the one we call now.
This shift does not happen overnight, from one day to the next; instead, the world vibrates for a number of years. People try to find their way back to homes that are no longer there, or on to an uncertain future across the sea. Some run from their deeds, and most get away. Among the millions in flight across Europe looking for a new home in 1947 is Elisabeth Åsbrink’s father.
In 1947, production begins of the Kalashnikov, Christian Dior creates the New Look, Simone de Beauvoir writes The Second Sex, the first actual computer bug is discovered, the CIA is set up, a clockmaker’s son draws up the plan that remains the goal of jihadists to this day, and a UN Committee is given four months to find a solution to the problem of Palestine.
In 1947, Elisabeth Åsbrink chronicles the creation of the modern world, as the forces that will go on to govern all our lives during the next 70 years first make themselves known.
‘Åsbrink’s elegant prose (translated by Fiona Graham) offers a lyrical history of a year that seems both recent and ancient.’
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‘Elisabeth Åsbrink’s lucid and vivid narrative exposes the reader to the anxious dilemmas of refugees, the calculations of lawyers in tribunals, the ennui at cocktail parties, the cynical strategies in negotiating halls, the devastating impacts on people's lives, and reveals how our modern era was shaped … An outstanding work, history as it should be told.’
Salil Tripathi, Chair of the PEN International Writers in Prison Committee, and author of The Colonel Who Would Not Repent
‘This is history as a series of eclectic snapshots of events and episodes and people, from the Nuremberg Trials to the partition of India, during a year in which the world tried to redefine its hopes and come to terms with its failures: and it makes for fascinating, disquieting, lively, and often surprising reading.’
Caroline Moorehead, author of Village of Secrets
‘An intriguing account of a number of significant events which occurred in a year when the world was beginning to come to terms with the fallout from the Second World War … Åsbrink deftly brings together the tangle, the mess, the aspirations, and the disappointments which characterised the period and which for her resonate personally through her family history.’
Rosemary Ashton, author of One Hot Summer: Dickens, Darwin, Disraeli, and the Great Stink of 1858
‘Like an image created from a thousand juxtaposed pixels, Åsbrink builds a cumulative picture of 1947 … Less a work of history, her book is more like an ingeniously constructed novel.’
The Jewish Chronicle
‘Gripping, overwhelming, and completed with such stylistic and factual consistency that you almost lose your breath. It does not happen often, but occasionally: good journalistic craftsmanship rises and becomes great literature.’
‘Elisabeth Åsbrink has written a book about history that distinguishes itself from many other history books by its poetic beauty … 1947 is as much an adept history book as it is a beautiful and well-written piece of fiction. Read it!’
‘If you don't get your hands on this book you will miss out not only on a historically meaningful year, but also on a strong reading experience.’
‘You get a piece of a life in your hands. There is something here that you seldom find in young Swedish prose … It is beautifully told. Dark, but beautiful.’
‘A skillful and illuminating way of presenting, to wonderful effect, the cultural, political, and personal history of a year that changed the world.’
‘Åsbrink works with great subtlety, allowing us to make our own judgments and trace any parallels or echoes with the present. Fiona Graham deserves credit for her remarkable translation.’
‘[A]n extraordinary achievement.’
The New York Times
‘[Åsbrink’s] careful juxtaposition of disparate events highlights an underlying interconnectedness and suggests a new way of thinking about the postwar era.’
The New Yorker