ORIGINAL TITLE: Övergivenheten


AUTHOR: Elisabeth Åsbrink

ORIGINAL PUBLISHER: Bokförlaget Polaris

GENRE: Fiction

Abandonment is an autobiographical novel about a family, about three women and three cities. The narrator is a writer determined to define, once and for all, the desolate shadow that has followed her throughout her life, and which she mistook for normality. In the portrayal of Rita, Sally and Katherine, she traces how secrets, lies and taboos pass from one generation to the next. It is a captivating story of love, emigration and humanity in the shadow of hatred. And, as the narrator points out: “This is fiction and therefore all that is told is true.”



"This captivating and important debut novel reveals the hurting points in a family history (...) A sharp gaze for all the sediments accumulated in language, as well as for the small steps and  the larger changes."

Benedicte Gui De Thurah Huang, Weekendavisen

"Very well told...The depiction of the mother as the threatening and always unpredictable 'mother-cloud', seen from little Kathrine's perspective, is delivered with great sensitivity. It is also horrendous."

Thomas Thurah, Information

”In this deep and powerful novel, Elisabeth Åsbrink writes beautifully and poetically about the lonesome history of her family.”

Anne Grete Jacobsen, Litteratursiden

A powerful and well written novel about a family that tells the story of three women in the 20th century. A compelling story about how these women – and we all – are affected by our upbringing and the conditions we are given.

Pernille Lisborg, Kulturen.nu

"Elisabeth Åsbrink is one of the rare authors who reaches such literary heights that they immediately feel too big for their market. Her new novel Abandonment emphatically possesses this quality: here we are dealing with a book that immediately joins the great literary tradition that hosts such diverse predecessors as Primo Levi and Isaac Bashevis Singer. […] I am happy to admit that I am completely enamored with this brilliant novel. Abandonment is a great novel, a work with lasting luminosity. To have read it is to feel enriched and elated."



“..a very rich, erudite and moving book. Elisabeth Åsbrink’s strength has always been to find the particular in the whole. The little detail that makes us really perceive history as it was.”

Dagens Nyheter

"The story follows "K" as she gathers the memories of her Jewish family into a powerful and enlightening narrative of love and hate, pride and humiliation as well as homecoming and constant flight. […] There is a strong author presence in the depiction. A presence that can only be achieved by a person who has contemplated something very seriously for a very long time something, a person for whom the words uttered are a matter of life and death."


"Abandonment is a novel that captivates and lingers. In part because when Åsbrink strikes the right note, she does it all but virtuosically, in part because there is a force in this book that seems unstoppable […] She searches for memories, for traces of her history, while the grief and anger over the buried, demolished and destroyed throbs in her. Here, the novel is permeated by frenzy, by equal parts breathtaking beauty and unyielding irreconcilability."


"Through the veins of the author and her poetic prose flows a violent story about people who have been categorized and ranked based on blood relations. She connects her own sense of abandonment to ancestors who were expelled and hunted since before the Spanish Inquisition."


"Abandonment is a rich novel, educational and with a strong political pathos. And despite its heavy subject matter, at times surprisingly funny. […] Abandonment does its part to combat historical ignorance. As an eager combatant, it places itself at the center of public debate as new anti-Semitic winds gather across Europe."


“Elisabeth Åsbrink has written an intense family story about the necessity to hide ones Jewish origins (…) To acknowledge what the book’s title most deeply entails, she reminds us that abandonment has a synonym – Jew. The word that has branded her family.”

Dagbladet (5 starred review)

“We cannot allow the memory of the fate of the Jews in Europe to be erased from our common recollection. Abandonment succeeds in being a cure for any form of history revisionism.”
Vårt land

Åsbrink makes a solid debut as a novelist with Abandonment.”

Stavanger Aftenblad (5 starred review)



"As always, reading Åsbrink is enchanting, edifying and devastating. Now more than ever. Abandonment is ruthless. "

Ann Sofi Lindholm

"I was completely immersed in the text. […] This is a novel that winds its way forward and urges the reader to ruminate, to reflect. What has migration, diaspora and loneliness done to these people? "

Anna, Och dagarna går



“An exceptionally bold text and a unique depiction of an unwritten chapter in the history of Europe.”

Björn Wiman
Cultural director
Dagens Nyheter

"Elisabeth Åsbrink started writing The Abandonment to find out if there is ”anyone out there”, as she puts it. She has lived large parts of her life with a sense of being on a deserted island, cut off from all context, family threads ending in nothing. From this experience has now emerged a painful yet reconciling story about three women and three cities: grandmother, mother and daughter in Thessaloniki, London and Stockholm. It is a story about emigration and flight readiness, about Jewish life and Jewish self-denial, about taboos and secrets rooted in thirteenth-century Spain and the expulsion of the Sephardic Jews. This autobiographical novel is a great leap in Elisabeth Åsbrink’s craftsmanship."

Stephen Farran Lee
Bokförlaget Polaris

“Since I first read the book it has stayed with me in a forceful way - it is such an impressive novel, written in a distinctive literary language, by an author who has something important at heart. It is because of books like this that I again and again say to myself, and others, that fiction has the power to expand people's understanding of who we are, and that we never cease to be characterized by the conditions we live in. It's amazing how Åsbrink manages to achieve the tremble of individual existences at the same time as she draws up a violent historical canvas. “

Hilde Rød-Larsen
Acquiring Editor
Aschehoug Fiction

“This is a surprisingly strong and concentrated reading experience. I read the novel over one night - it is excellent.

I was overwhelmed by Åsbrink's novel for several reasons: in part, because it is fundamentally well written and achieves great emotional power with supremely mastered literary means. The narrative is deeply personal, but at the same time it depicts objective historical facts in a vivid and relevant way. The motifs and fates have a constant undertow of darkness, literally speaking of an abyss. But Abandonment is neither aloof nor depressing. Like all good literature, it lifts the mind even when portraying personal grief and historical horror, because the written words are strong and true.”

Jacob Søndergaard
Publishing Director
Gutkind Forlag A/S

Rights sold


Danish Rights sold to Gutkind

German Rights sold to BTB

Italian Rights sold to Iperborea

Lithuanian Rights sold to Balto

Norwegian Rights sold to Aschehoug

Polish Rights sold to Wielka Litera Sp.z o,o.

Russian Rights sold to Phantom Press

Swedish Rights sold to Bokförlaget Polaris