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Ellen Mattson: To say no had been verging on livsfegt

It was on Monday that Ellen Mattson was asked to become a new member of the Swedish Academy – and she reacted with mixed feelings. It is this mixture of that

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Ellen Mattson: To say no had been verging on livsfegt

It was on Monday that Ellen Mattson was asked to become a new member of the Swedish Academy – and she reacted with mixed feelings.

It is this mixture of that you will be very happy and proud, but also feel easily panic in the face of what it will mean, " says Ellen Mattson when DN reaches her shortly after the Swedish Academy announced its two new election.

the Panic was centred on the practical, " she says. Travel, distance. Mattson lives and works in Ljungskile, Bohuslän, sweden.

– To read and write, it is fun, and I can. But just what with travelling, and many, I think this is a hassle in life. It was there I thought of a few days before I decided.

" I had really no thought about to say no, haha! To get such a unique offering, it is incredibly sad to say no. It was actually so I felt, it would be verging on the livsfegt. I am a person who really just wants to be at home and write, so it is very close to me to say no to things to get to live my ordinary life, but just that here I felt that I would have to say yes to.

" It has been absolutely horrible and bedrövande. Everyone I know who has any connection to the culture have been sad over what has happened, and cursed also. I have followed this very carefully. But my grundkänsla is also that the Academy is an important institution that must be preserved, albeit in a slightly different way, of course. I know nothing concrete about the change, I'm outside – but it is important that all agree that things need to change. It has begun, but needs to last for a long time.

" I don't know what is the problem with the Academy, I have not been inside. I know just as much or little as anyone else, so to speak on what needs to change, feels a bit presumptuous. I can only quote it as coming from the Academy: we need more openness and transparency. And, this must be said: it is important that women can sit in the Academy. It needs to get more women, and it seems that it keeps on happening.

Ellen Mattson romandebuterade 1992 with ”the night patrols”. She has since published a further nine novels, most recently ”the Tower and the birds” by 2017. She is also active as a literary critic. With its 56 years lowers she the average age of the Swedish Academy – which, prior to the new invalen at over 70 years.

"It's pretty obvious when you make a new election, to choose people who can sit for a while," says Ellen Mattson. But she also believes that age can be an advantage.

– You need to have a little feel when you get there. I was 30 when I gave out my first book, I was not ready until then. Now I'm 56, and find myself somewhere in the middle of my writing. There are certainly very young people who can contribute a lot also – but a young age is not a value in itself.

" I don't know, but what I am, is a novelist. I have been in 30 years here in the country, and has written novels, I am a romanmänniska. My interest in the art of the novel, to read and to write prose, to evaluate the texts of others, and articulate to me about it. I'm not a researcher, not a theoretician, but a novelist, and it is what I can contribute. Something else I have not.

" I think probably did not prepare me. I'm working on a book that I hope to find time to write finished before then, and I may well during the year to inform me a little bit about what that is expected and demanded of me.

" No, haha! I have only been at it for a couple of weeks. I hardly know myself what I am dealing with.

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