The Merman


AUTHOR: Carl-Johan Vallgren

ORIGINAL PUBLISHER: Albert Bonniers Förlag

GENRE: Fiction

The setting is the early 1980s, in a small town on the west coast of Sweden. Here Nella and her brother Robert live with their parents under harsh circumstances. Robert is being badly harassed at school, and Nella has to go into debt to save her younger brother from his tormentors.

In strong need of support Nella frantically looks to her friend Tommy for help. Nella is confounded at seeing him spending time with his older brothers, who are fishermen, in their boathouse. But when she discovers the reason for their coming and going, her life opens up to a mindboggling new dimension.
As in his acclaimed international hit novel The Horrific Sufferings Of the Mind-Reading Monster Hercules Barefoot, the author continues to explore the dark sides of human nature; as well as the purity of true love, kindness, respect and the miracles of communication.
Complete English translation available!


Sales sheet (PDF)



"At its heart, it is a wonderful character-driven story. As Nella is drawn deeper into the plot, the more the reader is drawn in along with her. The emotional immediacy of it all makes for an enveloping adventure on a very human scale.

A captivating, bleak tale about youth and friendship, The Merman honors the Scandinavian tradition when it comes to this kind of story: it is unassumingly simple, sweetly aching, heart-warming and absolutely beautiful."

Edinburgh Book Review

"..an intense little gem... when the Merman enters the scene, Vallgren succeeds – against all the odds – in shifting social realism towards the metaphysical. It takes a brave literary hand to do that sort of thing, and he’s still got it. And he succeeds. The Merman remains genuinely readable right up to the very end."

Arne Dahl/Jan Arnald, Dagens Nyheter

"How does one mix Swedish hyperrealism – the neglect and bullying of small children in the state – with a beast straight out of the fantasy genre? The answer is quite simply ‘art’, it cannot be explained in any other way. The writer manages here to do what only great writers can do... From here on I will be reading all of Vallgren’s books.."


Rights sold


Dutch Rights sold to De Geus

English UK Rights sold to Hesperus Press

English US Rights sold to Pegasus

French Rights sold to JC Lattès

Italian Rights sold to Longanesi

Korean Rights sold to Hyundaemunhak

Russian Rights sold to sold to Ripol

Turkish Rights sold to Metis