Life in Every Breath

by Fatima Bremmer

Born in 1891, Ester Blenda Nordström was around 20 when she made history for the first time. Growing up she was an unruly tomboy sent from home to learn how to become a good little girl. But this rich industry magnate’s daughter would never let herself be tamed.

As Sweden’s first ever investigative journalist, Ester Blenda Nordström did what no one else dared to do. Under an assumed identity she toiled as a maid on a farm, lived for six months with the Sami in Lapland, and travelled as a third class passenger together with poor emigrants to try the American dream. She saved entire villages from starvation during the Finnish civil war and partook in a several year long expedition to dangerous volcanic territories in Siberia. The groundbreaking reports that she brought home from her journeys would change Swedish journalism forever.

Praised, admired and friends with Sweden’s cultural elite, she rode her motorbike to work, wore trousers and smoked a pipe. Ester Blenda Nordström defied every norm that constricted women’s lives in the early 20th century. Then suddenly, her powerful voice was silenced. Her spectacular adventures and the struggle for a life on her own terms proved too costly.

In this first ever biography about Ester Blenda Nordström, journalist and author Fatima Bremmer tells the story of what finally caused Sweden’s bravest journalist to lose her nerve. Using previously unknown correspondence and journals, she portrays one of the most fascinating women of the 20th century.

First published by Forum/Ester Bonnier Publishing

US, Amazon Crossing

Journalist Bremmer debuts with a tantalizing biography of Sweden’s first investigative reporter, Ester Blenda Nordström […]. Richly textured and vividly told, this is an intriguing portrait of a pioneering woman and her era.

– Publishers Weekly (US)

… the strongest biography I have read in a long time, not only because I also fell for Ester Blenda’s highly dangerous charm on an early stage, but rather because Bremmer handles a delicate material in the best way… a book for which she will be, if there’s any justice in the literary world, highly rewarded for.
– SvD

… a generous portrait about the author, the person and the bewildering time she lived in […] Rich, funny and instructive. And with the best title of the year.
– DN

…a brilliant example of how to write a literary portrait. A page-turner, but solidly founded in the research material. Fatima Bremmer has not only gotten to know Ester Blenda Nordström, but also her closest friends, and makes their understatements and overstatements nuanced, putting question marks where there’s incertitude.
– Expressen

A Damn Sunshine (Ett jävla solsken) is such a wonderful straightforward portrayal… Fatima Bremmer’s biography is a page turner, very much so since Blenda Nordström’s life is like a fantastic melodrama.
– Aftonbladet

It’s a bewildering fate that takes shape in Fatima Bremmer’s initiated and captivating description … Fatima Bremmer’s book brings Ester Blenda Nordström to life again, which is a cultural achievement to be grateful for.
– GP

… a cultural achievement of big proportions.

Fatima Bremmer has made a great work worthy of prizes against the forgetfulness with her thought-provoking biography worth reading about this colorful and courageous journalist. The nomination couldn’t be more well-deserved.
– Folkbladet

I’m reading Bremmer’s book at a stretch. Not only is it well-written, but also manages to bring Ester Blenda to life, as a professional, the skilled journalist and author, the adventurer and as a person …

It’s a fantastic story that describes Ester Blenda as a person and her deeds. But the biography is also an interesting portrayal of that period of time, the first half of the 20th century, a historiography from a partly new perspective, not only the big events but also a reminder of the social and political moves that took place that time.
– Nerikes Allehanda

Dazzling good.
– Norrländska Socialdemokraten

It’s a biography with action, entertaining – and impressive. A fate of a person who breaks free, delightful to read about. Fatima Bremmer has dived deep into the Nordström family’s left letters and papers. The result? A solid portrayal of a fate that – incomprehensible indeed – has been far too forgotten.
– Borås Tidning

Fatima Bremmer’s prose has a great literary quality and despite all the sorrows and complications it’s a pleasure to accompany Ester Blenda on her path through life. When you are done reading Ett jävla solsken you have gotten to know both Ester Blenda and her time. A necessary lesson in modern Swedish women’s history and a human fate that touches and fascinates.
– Opulens

Fatima Bremmer treats Ester with the respect she deserves, and bring us with her on the trip from Svenska Dagbladet to the farm, from the sunshine to the darkness – and the long relation with Carin, in a time where homosexuality still was considered to be a disease … Fatima Bremmer cements Ester Blenda Nordström’s place in the history of Sweden.
– Damernas värld

Fatima Bremmer’s thorough and excellent biography worth reading is full of compassion and wise human knowledge.
– Tidningen Kulturen

With help from previously unknown collections of letters and journals one of the most fascinating Swedish women is portrayed.
– Nättidningen Svensk historia

Bremmer has done an impressive work with her funny and moving story about this adventurous woman. She has managed to make her main character so alive that the reader seems to know Ester Nordström personally after reading. A completely brilliant biography about a female pioneer who really deserves to be remembered!

A thrilling, well-written and skillfully composed book about an in every way touching fate. Almost impossible to put down, but once you have to it finds its evident placing in the bookshelf next to Ester Blenda’s own books.
– Litterära händelser

The August Prize, winner 2017 in the non-fiction category

The Great Non-fiction Award, 2017, shortlisted

The Skara Citizen of the Year 2018

Tôrpar Award  2019