A Marian Legend

ORIGINAL TITLE: En Marialegand

AUTHOR: Niklas Rådström

GENRE: Fiction

A young woman is left to die after being subjected to a gang rape by a horde of child soldiers. A museum curator in New York shoulders the work of a deceased colleague and is gradually drawn into her life. German sixteenth-century artist Lucas Cranach tries to save a collection of art treasures from destruction during the Siege of Wittenberg.

In Niklas Rådström’s novel, these seemingly unrelated stories are woven together into a gripping and challenging story, at once timeless and intensely topical. A Marian Legend is a magnificently bold and rich novel about how we deal with the evil of the world, and what we really hold dear in our lives.

The first three chapters are available in English, translated by Neil Betteridge.



A Marian Legend is a fascinating and stylistically incredibly convincing story, where the crucial insight into life’s purpose and meaning is constantly thrown back to the reader. It is undoubtedly a high point in Rådström’s authorship. It’s such a beautiful, brave, ceaselessly fascinating novel. And yes, despite all the cruelty encountered by the reader, it paradoxically becomes a tribute to what it is to be human. We are cruel, horrendous but we can also love and strive towards what is good. And what a divinely gifted stylist Rådström is, so tonally accomplished that you just sit back in amazement while the novel slowly reveals its hidden wonders.”

A Marian Legend is a terrifying book, in the positive sense of the word. It knocks me off my feet. Through its sublime violence, it forces me to see the real violence. I am no longer completely sure where the boundary between them is.”
Dagens Nyheter

“Even when he writes prose, he is a poet. The language, crystal clear and beautiful, reveals the depth of existence. Rådström has written a rich novel, at the same time timeless and urgently topical.”
Svenska Dagbladet  

“Rådström has – once again! – written a beautiful book in which darkness illuminates the light.”
Kulturnyheterna, Swedish Public Broadcasting 

“Niklas Rådström is at the height of his career, and it is something of a relief to know that A Marian Legend could not have come from a debut writer, but is the result of an entire life of reading and writing. It is a novel to read and re-read, to remind you that the world as a whole is incomprehensible, but that in fragments can emit light and hope for the future.”

“With the novel A Marian Legend, Niklas Rådström consolidates – again, I must add – his position as one of the country’s leading and most urgent authors. He constantly challenges himself and chooses to write about the most difficult and important subjects. And through his writing, this beautiful and seductive, gripping and shattered language ... he is able to craft literary artistry that does not close itself off from the reader. On the contrary. His novel is accessible in the way that only great and significant literature can be. Without hesitation, I dare claim that this is one of the year’s truly important and intriguing novels.”

“restrained and subtle in its mastery”

“there is no [other] Swedish writer today who writes with such sophisticated beauty as Niklas Rådström ... A Marian Legend is an enjoyable and imaginative reading experience. Niklas Rådström has done it again.”

“With authority and intensity, he opens up the readers’ sensitivity with his seriousness. From history, he breaks away individual fates, fictional and real, and makes us see suffering, evil and grace. And how art can be a reflection of the divine. ... Niklas Rådström brings the characters to life – and straight into one’s heart. He simultaneously nails the universal and the miracle that marginalizes death.”
Östgöta Correspondenten 

“With dense colors, an almost biblical gravity, and great artistic power, Rådström succeeds in bringing all this into a credible narrative, a story about the most biblical of tasks: to survive life, to persevere when all arguments have been destroyed and humanity does not even appear as a possibility.”
Norrbottens Kuriren 

“With [Rådström], descriptions, gestures and phrases are produced with an intensity and precision that it is a pleasure to surrender to. His language possesses a unique sharpness and beauty.”
Norrländska Socialdemokraten

A Marian Legend is a wonderfully beautiful and bold novel. The language glows and the plot vibrates with the power of the depiction of humanity’s wrestling with and against itself, with and against the world.”
Södermanlands Nyheter

“a deeply moving novel, a work in which extremes touch one another.”

“In all of the loosely connected stories, Rådström offers a reminder of his perhaps most prominent characteristic as an author: the ability to, with compassionate respect for each of his characters, give language and image – and perhaps also meaning – to the absolute pain points of life.”
Ystads Allehanda

“extremely suspenseful and urgent. Read it!”

“The step from reality and truth to fantasy and dream is never far away in Rådström’s imaginative prose, which reveals the poet that he is.”
Skånska Dagbladet

“Here, Rådström succeeds, as the sharp stylist he is and with an absolute pitch, in balancing the archetypal and the personal, the eternal and the contemporary.”