One of our recommended books for 2019 is Welcome to America by Linda Bostrom Knausgaard

WELCOME TO AMERICA


Ellen has stopped talking. She thinks she may have killed her dad. Her brother’s barricaded himself in his room. Their mother, a successful actress, carries on as normal. “We’re a family of light!” she insists. But darkness seeps in everywhere and in their separate worlds each of them longs for togetherness. Welcome to America is a dark portrait of a sensitive, strong-willed child in the throes of trauma, and a family on the brink of disaster.

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Ellen has stopped talking. She thinks she may have killed her dad. Her brother’s barricaded himself in his room. Their mother, a successful actress, carries on as normal. “We’re a family of light!” she insists. But darkness seeps in everywhere and in their separate worlds each of them longs for togetherness. Welcome to America is a dark portrait of a sensitive, strong-willed child in the throes of trauma, and a family on the brink of disaster.

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  • World Editions
  • Paperback
  • September 2019
  • 160 Pages
  • 9781642860412

Buy the Book

$15.99

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About Linda Bostrom Knausgaard

Linda Boström Knausgård (Sweden) is an author and poet, as well as a producer of documentaries for Swedish radio. Her first novel, The Helios Disaster, was awarded the Mare Kandre Prize and shortlisted for the Swedish Radio Novel Award 2014. Welcome to America, her second novel, has been awarded the prestigious Swedish August Prize and nominated for the Svenska Dagbladet Literary Prize.

Praise

“Knausgård’s story of a family in crisis is shocking and imaginative. Everything is written in beautiful and sparse prose which suggests that, after all, from darkness comes light.” —Jury, August Prize

“Welcome to America presents itself as an étude in the musical sense of the term: a basic theme that varies to infinity, acquiring with each new variation a new unprecedented facet. A triumph.” —Le Monde

“A tender novel about a mute girl: gentle, sensitive, minimal, concise, subtle, and brutal. This is writing as self-defense and liberation.”Spiegel

“A daring and disturbing novel. One will not soon forget the eleven-year-old narrator and her silence.”MDR Kultur

“In her slim book, Boström Knausgård conjures a constellation reminiscent of a psychological thriller. Welcome to America is a book that masterfully describes the many nuances of inner darkness.” —Austria Presse Agentur

“Linda Boström Knausgård erases herself from her own writing. What remains is the girl who communicates directly with the reader in a remarkably strong voice, despite her being so quiet.” —Svenska Dagbladet

Discussion Questions

1. The author Linda Bostrom Knausgaard says about her recurring theme of silence: “It provokes a lot of reactions. It turns into a space that others want to fill perhaps by speaking even more. It’s hard to cope with silence.”  Discuss the theme of silence, and the ways in which silence can be used as a weapon.

2. Why does Ellen decide to stop speaking, and what do you think she hopes to achieve?

3. Can you describe the relationship between Ellen and her mother?

4. Ellen’s brother features somewhat less in the story. Can you describe a little how you imagine his experience of coping with his grief to be?

5. Do you think Ellen’s mother and the school are dealing with Ellen in the right way? Why, why not?

6. What would help Ellen?

7. When, if at all, is Ellen happy?

8. What do you imagine for Ellen in the future; will she speak again?

9. Are there moments in the novel where you can see that Ellen wants to speak? What happens in these moments?

10. Did Ellen have a good relationship with her father? Does she miss him?

11. What is the significance of the book’s title?

12. Boström writes in a very poetic and hypnotic style; how do you think this adds to the experience of the novel?

13. Have you read any similar books before (for example, first-person monologues)? If so, how do they compare? If not, would you consider it now?