Madelein Hessérus – one of the most compelling voices in contemporary Swedish literature

“’The Elephant’s Foot is a beautiful, lingering novel: the plot is simple but the prose is intense and full of images.”
Josefin Holmström, Svenska Dagbladet

Hessérus, a graduate in Medicine from Uppsala University and a trained dancer from the Swedish Royal Ballet School, started out as a dramatist and wrote several plays for radio, television and the stage. However, it was her two collections of short stories, Not as Beautiful as in Valparaíso and The Dead Queen that introduced her original and graceful style of writing to a wider audience. Since then her novels To Isola and The City Without Women has enthralled readers with their visionary and multi-faceted stories, poetic narratives and  sharp criticism of modern urban life.

Her third novel, The Elephant’s Foot, was published in March 2016 marking the 25th anniversary of the disaster in Chernobyl. In it, we follow young, Swedish, biologist Katarina as she faces the perilous nature of the forbidden zone while navigating the politics of a small international team of scientists.

Scientific accuracy is pitted against irrationality, sense against sensibility. Madeleine Hessérus writes about love and human kind’s complex relationship with civilisation and nature in a lucid, eloquent prose.

”I read the book slowly to prolong the pleasure of the novel’s suggestive description of the scientists’ surprisingly passionate existences. Patiently gathering data, aloofness and envy, the irrational disgruntlement /… / Hessérus’ portrayal of the scientists’ expeditions into the zone is a literary achievement. The prose wriggles and almost spills out of the pages in the same way that the trees pierce through abandoned buildings in the real-life town of Pripyat / … / ‘The Elephant’s Foot’ is an oil painting disguised as a novel.”
Inga-Lina Lindqvist, Aftonbladet

”The writing in Madeleine Hessérus’ ‘The Elephant’s Foot’ is startlingly beautiful when she describes how nature is reclaiming the zone, the sealed off area around Chernobyl’s quarantined nuclear power plant.”Milena Bergquist, Femina