Linda Boström Knausgård Interview: The Girl Who Stopped Speaking

In this openhearted video interview, the lauded Swedish writer Linda Boström Knausgård talks about her inspiration from theatre and Greek mythology, and about silence as a theme in her novels as well as in her own life: “What happens to a girl who stops speaking?”

“I was dead set on becoming an actor.” Boström Knausgård’s mother was an actress, and attending several plays and rehearsals as a child, she was quite certain that she too would become an actress. When she realised that this wasn’t for her, she focused on writing, which became a form of liberation for her: “I loved the theatre to bits like a child loves its mother. It was fantastic, but now I was going to do something that I wanted to do.”

The struggle between silence and love is a recurrent theme in Boström Knausgård’s novels, such as ‘Välkommen till America’ (Welcome to America), in which the main character Ellen stops speaking after the death of her depressed, violent father, and though her mother is pained by it, she lets her be: “So she gets a place that she didn’t have before. A place to be in her world.” When she is silent, things for Ellen somehow become clearer and easier, and her silence prevents her from getting herself into the trouble she sometimes got herself into at school: “It feels like a good place to be.” As a child, Boström Knausgård also stopped speaking, albeit only for a couple of days, and the writer – who considers herself “a very quiet person” – ponders why we have such a difficult time handling silence: “It provokes a lot of reactions. It turns into a space that others want to fill perhaps by speaking even more. It’s hard to cope with silence.”

Linda Boström Knausgård (b. 1972) is a Swedish author and poet, whose literary debut was the poetry collection ‘Gör mig behaglig för såret’ (1998). Her critical breakthrough came in 2011 with the short-story collection ‘Grand Mal’, which consists of twenty short, intense and tight prose texts. Her first novel ‘Helioskatastrofen’ (The Helios Disaster) was released in 2013, and in 2016 she published the praised novel ‘Välkommen till Amerika’ (Welcome to America). Boström Knausgård suffers from a bipolar disorder, which was the subject of the radio documentary ‘Jag skulle kunna vara USA:s president’ (I could have been the President of the USA), which she produced for Radio Sweden in 2005.

Linda Boström Knausgård was interviewed by Anette Dina Sørensen in connection with the Louisiana Literature festival at the Louisiana Museum of Modern Art in Humlebæk, Denmark in August 2017.

Camera: Henrik Kaarsholm and Rasmus Quistgaard
Edited by: Klaus Elmer
Produced by: Marc-Christoph Wagner
Copyright: Louisiana Channel, Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, 2018

Supported by Nordea-fonden


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