By Marie Hermanson

Employed by the hour as a hotel cleaner. Work until you drop and then be replaced when you are no longer needed. The only holiday option is a picnic in the park with the phone switched on, always on stand-by. A sublet apartment with an expiring contract. And the successful parents with their full-time jobs who travel to Paris and turn her old bedroom into an extension of the living room.

Twenty-two year-old Martina’s options are limited. So when she meets her old friend Tessan who offers her a room at a manor outside of town, she is in no position to say no. Tessan has been in the same situation but it turns out that she is now working as a housekeeper for an eccentric old lady. In the 1940’s. The old lady lives her life as if it was the WW2 era and invites affluent gentlemen to imaginary dinners. Martina and Tessan accept their roles in her fantasy world. They have a roof over their heads and don’t pay any rent.

But there will be more of them. First a lost teenage girl. Later two young men whom Tessan and Martina meet on a night out. None of them have found their place in life, but they all find security and purpose at the manor. They begin to fantasise about staying there forever. In the Twilight Country. They put a plan into action to ensure that they will eventually inherit the place. Until an unannounced and very unwelcome guest appears. A guest who interrupts their plans and puts a terrible chain of events into motion.

Skymningslandet (The Twilight Country) is a both satirical and enthralling story about how unemployment and housing shortage can push young people into a both alluring and dangerous collective fantasy.

First published by Albert Bonniers Förlag, 2014

255 pages

Finland, Like
France, Actes Sud
Germany, Suhrkamp
Sweden, Albert Bonniers förlag
Sweden, Bookmark
Sweden, Elib AB

Marie Hermanson usually offers a certain amount of evil in her novels (most recently in “Himmelsdalen”, 2011) but “Skymningslandet” lacks those kinds of intangible horror elements. Here, the atmosphere is characterized by vivid nature romanticism, the grounds surrounding the manor are described as stunningly lush. Girls in gorgeous vintage dresses roam the green meadows like decorative props. It is both a bygone paradise with ultimate complications – and a contrast that makes the hopelessness in modern society even more urgent /…/ Marie Hermanson bears witness of this loathsome labor market through her writing, which is as entertaining as usual, but it is also wistful and timeless, in the spirit of Maria Gripe. That feels revolutionary in its own way.
Bodil Juggas, Arbetarbladet

Fairy tales and nature are Hermanson’s most familiar trademarks; it is when she describes the magic course of the leafy summer in tandem with the events at the manor that she excels in style as well as imagination. It is impossible to resist the imagery: everything becomes as magical as it is portrayed /…/ It is not only standard youth angst that is the primal concern. Hermanson portrays a generation of young people in crisis, where society’s increasing individualistic demands is paired with the lack of compassion from parents (and society). An obliviousness that is based upon another type of unemployment – one that could always be overcome and that is a far cry from the inescapable hell of precarious work. It is a very timely novel, in other words.
Frida Samsonovits, Göteborgs-Tidningen/Expressen

Author Marie Hermanson certainly knows how to put a spin on everyday life.
Christina Busck, Hela Hälsingland

“Skymningslandet” becomes a mix between a psychological suspense drama and classic detective fiction. There is nothing wrong with that. Marie Hermanson always masters different genres especially well.
Björn Gunnarsson, Hallands Nyheter