I now want to move back home and into my grandfather’s story

/ Sara Lidman, The Diary 1975

Sara Lidman frets over not having accomplished the big book about Vietnam, but states
“… I have a Vietnam here in Västerbotten as well”

The challenge that comes from the emptiness between people      the sparsely populated.
    To catch what’s there –   in the empty –
to achieve the language of the trees
           to everything that has been alive and is alive
                        to some sort of meaning in that

Sara returns to Missenträsk in 1975. During the first years she takes care of her parents and her uncle Arvid, until they pass away.
While in the process of mourning, she undertakes a fervent search for facts about and the documentation of old expressions and stories from the village. In eight years she writes five novels – the epic Jernbaneeposet (The Railway Epos). Sara is thrown between the joy of writing and writer’s cramp. But the goal remains clear:

I had no other real task in this world than to understand this house

          it’s pain

It’s now that her absolutely distinctive style takes form.

“… a union of spoken and written, of flesh and words, of snow and flames” writes Birgitta Holm in Sara – i liv och text. A decade later a new volume of The Railway Epos is published. Sara fights her way “to her mother” in Lifsens rot (The Root of Life). Followed three years later by Oskuldens minut (The Moment of Innocence), in which Sara herself (as Nanna) comes to the world. This book puts an end to the epos and at the same time takes us back to it’s beginning. The circle is closed with the last sentence spoken by dad Isak Mårten: “But listen now Nanna darling – come let me tell you a story”

Oskuldens minut is dedicated to Leif Sjöberg, Sara’s life-partner her last ten years. Leif dies shortly after the publication. Sara lives on another 4 years. 

Picture: Erik Lidman (Sara’s grandfather) with family. Sara’s father Andreas is driving the harrow.


I have a village on my mind…

…a westerbothnian village
that for a long time now is something else than what it was
when it’s faces animal sounds
march skies rowan flowers
sorrows joys working hands
gathered into such a vision
which I wanted to capture,
yes, just capture
without depriving it of its flight,
its secret.
But to be able to write true about such a village
you should know the history of the entire world.
Times, people, religions – notions of the taboo
– and their interrelations

I will therefore never be able to do justice to my red village
but it’s always with me
as the innermost driving force
in my attempts to learn something about the world 


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