By Elin Persson

Rebecka is new at work at the residential care home for children and young persons, she has taken the introduction course and follows all the rules in the folder. She is advised to leave the work at work, to not let herself be affected. But sometimes when things are too much she flees down to the basement corridor near the garbage room and sits there for a while and pokes on the rough concrete wall until a small pile of greyish crumbs appears on the floor.  

Every day she meets Ahmed who moves his hips rapidly, Hamid who has the letter from The Swedish Migration Agency on his bedside table and Zaher, the latest person at the care home who moves quietly through the corridors  in his glittery sandals. They are the sons of Afghanistan and Rebecka at the asylum accommodation is their relative.

First published by Bonnier Carlsen, Sweden 2020

Dari, Café 60 Media
Denmark, Gutkind
Hungary, Metropolis Media
Japan, Shogakkan
Lithuania, Alma Littera
Norway, Gyldendal

“Persson writes concentrated, only what’s needed, and with an alert eye for the telling details. For being a debutant, she has an unusually developed stylistic capacity, something that’s very promising for the future.”
Svenska Dagbladet

“Sharp debut”/…/”The Afghan Sons” is Persson’s debut, and it’s an impressive one”.
Dagens Nyheter

“I’m struck. This novel for youths and young adults is written with sincerity, care, and compassion.”
Lena Kjersen Edman, Svensklärarföreningen

“Elin Persson’s debut novel is a stylistically blistering commentary on the Swedish bureaucratic exercise of public authority when it comes to integration. It’s also a fictional memoir about the people who were saved from death,, but still weren’t allowed to live. As such, it’s as effective as it’s moving, with a lingering linguistic brilliance. ”

“Without any digression, the sequence of events is described in a minimalistic style.  It’s an outstanding depiction, utterly moving and the reader should be prepared for a very painful read. ” /…/ “It’s said that no one who’s threatened to death will be expelled, but it’s not a consolation. These boys’ souls have been broken. In many ways, they are still children and are now once again thrown out in the cold. This is why this book is so important! It’s an eye-opener that helps us to see and understand.”
Lise-Lotte Arnäs, children’s librarian, Strömstads tidning, Norra Bohuslän

“One of the winter’s cultural debates, initiated by Margit Richert in Svenska Dagbladet, has been about Swedish authors having a generic background, which narrows the perspective. In this novel, Elin Persson contributes with such a sought-after new perspective. Rebecka is one of many people who have gained a foothold in the labor market with the refugee reception, people who weren’t always equipped to handle the difficult task. The subject has shed light on Elin Persson’s debut, but she has a voice that promises an authorship worth following even when she leaves the HVB home”
Kristian Ekenberg, Gefle Dagblad,, Sundsvalls tidning, Nerikes Allehanda

“As far as I know, this is also the first fictional depiction of the work at an HVB home. But what makes ‘The Afghan Sons’ worth reading isn’t its place in contemporary literary history. It has completely different qualities. This is definitely a profoundly moving book, even if I never stretch read – on the contrary, I have to take a few pages at a time not to drown in the deceptively easy-to-read but emotionally heavy text. Persson writes concentratedly, just precisely what is needed, and with an alert eye for the telling details, something that’s very promising for the future. Above all, Persson manages to write out an immense complexity, which gives depth to the thin book. There are often no right answers here – at least none that are simple or possible to realize. Persson portrays a set of people who all have shortcomings and prejudices, better and worse sides. “/…/” They all become multifaceted human beings, in a way that not only makes the book better but also feels liberating – and that’s really needed in a cold social climate.
Svenska Dagbladet

“Sharp debut”/…/”The Afghan Sons” is Person’s debut, and it’s an impressive one. It’s clear that the writer has a background within social work and has spent a couple of summers at a similar HVB home. The novel is published for youths but can be read and appreciated by adults as well. ” /…/ However, Persson has written an original book for young adults. Unlike much else on the market, “The Afghan Sons” is not primarily about growing up. Theme-wise and stylistically, it has more in common with novels by contemporary working-class authors such as Kristian Lundberg and Jenny Wrangborg. The depiction of Rebecca’s workplace and relationship with the three boys raises burning questions about power, powerlessness, and the right to a dignified life. It’s difficult to answer whether you become more or less human by working at an institution. I just know that Persson’s novel pinpoints what it means to be a fellow human being. ”
Dagens Nyheter

“The Afghan Sons is an enthralling debut. It’s a story I haven’t read before, and it becomes rarer to find new stories. The book brings an understanding for the people who live at a HVB home and the people who work there. I like it!

“Through this book, it’s clear that Sweden’s refugee reception is inhuman. I can only wish that not only young people, but also adults,  and especially our politicians read” The Afghan Sons. This cannot continue.”
Maria Nyström Krantz, Östgötakorrespondenten

“We’ve heard it many times before, but Elin Persson still manages to make it emotive. The tone, the subject, and the characters are set from the first page. /…/ Elin Persson simply trusts that greatness lies in simplicity,  and she’s right about that. “The Afghan Sons” both feels and touches even though it uses the indoor voice. It shows everything I didn’t know about a story I thought I already knew. Not just a successful debut, but a really successful novel. Irresistible.”
Johanna Lindbäck, Expressen

“Strong debut” /…/ Some books are harder to write about than others. I must say that it’s a text that touched me deeply, and that the worrying that came from reading it delayed the writing. ”
Smålandsposten, Barometern

“Persson has succeeded particularly well with the portrayal of the unaccompanied boys as children. /…/ There are several episodes in The Afghan Sons that cause a sharp pain in the heart. When someone gives love, why can’t we receive it? ”
Anna Tagaro Andersson, Folkbladet

“Beautiful story about everyday life, routines, complications, the loneliness in a new country and new friendships.”
Dagens Nyheter

“There are a lot of feelings, intensity, and it’s all really good. A skillfully executed debut.”
Vi läser

“The character portrayals are vivid and multidimensional, and everything takes place in well-drawn settings, somewhere in Sweden, and the debutant Elin Persson doesn’t steer away from the difficulties that occur when cultures clash. But she also lets the reader understand that there’s a lot of emotion behind the prose, that is forced to hold back the confined emotional commitment that’s about to explode. In summary: The Afghan Sons is a tight, strong novel that skilfully portrays complicated societal issues.”
Staffan Wennerlund, Bibliotekstjänst, häfte 1: 2020

“A humanitarian-psychological portrait in novel form … Elin Persson hits hard with this fine novel.”

Winner of the 2021 Nordic Council Children and Young People’s Literature Prize


Children’s & YA