It all starts with a painting in Fredrik Sjöberg’s art collection, picturing two depressed teenagers one summer day in Menton, France, 1921:
They are cousins, 15 years olds Hanna Gottowt (1906–1987) and Lillan Arosenius (1906–2004). The stage is theirs, even though the real hero of the book is the painter himself, Anton Dich (1889–1935). He was Danish, married to Lillan’s mother Eva Arosenius, and is completely forgotten in Denmark and everywhere else, even in Bordighera, Italy, where he lived his final years and was buried.
Mom is crazy and dad is drunk is an essay, in style related to Sjöberg’s earlier books, about the art of failure due to bad luck, bad timing, bad drinking habits, exile and lack of self-confidence. But it’s also a story of a few extraordinary personalities, among them the four parents of the girls, drifting around in Europe during the first decades of the last century. Anton Dich’s close friend Amadeo Modigliani will show up, and even Adolf Hitler, once a classmate of Hanna’s mother at an art school in Vienna.
Rights sold to: Germany (Hanser Verlag), Italy (Iperborea), Norway (Cappelen Damm)
originally published by Albert Bonniers förlag (Sweden) 2018
Rights available for: Worldwide
Fredrik Sjöberg would certainly describe himself as a solitary person. He is one of the friendliest wolves in sheep's clothing, a biologist, an honorary professor at several universities, author of a now long series of books, which he dedicated to the theme of passion in many different ways. His books have been published in seventeen languages.
Fredrik’s books have been nominated for the August Prize and for the Yasnja Polyana Award 2016 (Russia) as well as winning the Ig-Nobel prize 2016 in the category literature
“No one but Fredrik Sjöberg could write a story that so easily and naturally associates from one thing to the other. (…) There is a gloomy and tenacious undertone, a story of transience, death, fear of failure and disappearing without leaving the slightest trace of oneself. (…) Sjöberg has released Anton Dich out of his cocoon, folded out his wings and gave his painting of Lillan and her cousin Hanna a new life.”
“Mamma är galen och pappa är full can be described as an unsuccessful attempt to master coincidence. Deliberately unsuccessful, should be added, because by definition coincidence cannot be mastered. But the trials can be both beautiful and elegant, as this example shows.”