There rests Nilas, hidden under the moss with frosted flowers on his cheeks. Lying next to treacherous moorland and rapid forest streams, the same spot where Hebbe once died. Everyone believes that Nilas has drowned, that he has been swallowed by the Vindel River. Several decades will pass before the spring flood reveals what really happened.
This is the story about a handful of people whose destinies are inexorably tied together by Nilas’ disappearance in the mid-1960s, about before and after. It is the story of Assar’s forbidden desire for Margareta, about Håkan who longs for a father but gains a little brother, about Håkan’s girlfriend Petra who, many years later, decides to dig out the truth nestling beneath layers of age-old secrets and distres- sing memories. Troubled Water is a novel about loneliness, longing, village gossip and how far the conscience can reach.
From the catalogue New Swedish Books 2020:
Troubled Water is an evocative and psychologically charged novel that revolves around an unexplained disappearance. Itportrays an isolated rural community through the small-scale agriculture of the 1940s andthe emerging welfare state of the 1960s into the post-industrial shadow of today. But more than anything it is a story about a boywho longs for a father, about a young manwho falls in love with someone he cannot have and about a woman who does not knowhow to be a mother. With a masterful hand, revealing the poignant details little by little, Maria Broberg shows how secrets, shame, guilt, misunderstandings and prejudice can alter the course of a man’s life – with fateful consequences.
…a magnificent story about a northern Swedish village /… / Broberg’s writing is sinuously beautiful, vibrant and with a foreboding tone that provides a stark contrast to the taciturn dialogue. In addition, she mercilessly penetrates the psychological aspects, allowing yearning and agony to appear completely undisguised with both despair and crudity. At the same time, there are examples of difficult choices made in order to soothe loneliness and to survive /… / I read Troubled Water without stopping and am impressed by the smooth shifts in the complex structure and how certain details echo throug- hout the whole story. It is a very powerful debut, which makes me curious about Broberg’s next move. Svenska Dagbladet
The agonizing family saga itself is engaging enough, and Assar and Margareta’s infatuation is captured with reticent but acute sensitivity, but the novel’s forte can mainly be found in the pro- se. Everyone knows about classic Västerbotten authors such as Lidman, Enquist and Lindgren, and a more recent, distinct voice like Stina Stoor has also added remarkable linguistic flavour to this barren part of the world. Maria Broberg is yet another compelling voice to emerge out of here. Her prose is deeply connected to the area and has a natural vigor and expression, that should make most southern writers turn green with envy / During these Corona times many of us have more time to read. Go ahead and please do start with Troubled Water! Aftonbladet
At first glance it is hard to believe that Maria Broberg, born 1977, is a debutant. In Troubled Water it is not only an accomplished, but also a linguistically full-fledged author, dynamic in every single detail, that addresses the disappearance of little boy Nilas in the 1960s /… / This portrayal of the enduring consequences of year- ning, of loss, silence and incessant desire – close- ly guarded by two fictive characters, is mightier than most of what modern Swedish auto-fiction can offer in terms of love /… / It is rare that a debutant makes such a significantly epic entrance. Broberg has hereby established herself. It certainly bodes well.
Nilas’ death in the mid-1960s is the catalyst for Maria Broberg’s debut novel Troubled Water, its dark heart, but it is the time before and after his short life that the story portrays: the mother’s secret love affair, the brother’s lifelong guilt /… / Broberg writes with a subtle poise that feels unusual for a debutant; she is unconcerned with gestures, confident that the story is strong enough. It is tempting to say that Västerbotten literature has gained yet another tremendous storyteller, but it may be slightly premature. There is, however, no doubt that the region has gained yet another tremendous story.
… a convincing and resonant debut novel about loneliness, heritage and secrets. The prose is carefully composed, the pace smooth /… / The Västerbotten inland, the way it is depicted by Maria Broberg, is so powerfully present that it feels like you’re there, breathing the same air /… / At the same time you don’t need to be there, of all places. The village could be located anywhere in Sweden, or probably in other countries for that matter. Troubled Water is in other words also a universal portrayal of a rural life that many of us laptop-working, latte-drinking urba- nites are rooted in only a few generations back, during a time when the secrets were enormous and the options small.