Has a degree in Political Science, writes a regular column for a Swedish daily (Svenska Dagbladet) and teaches creative writing.
During the cold war she worked as a tour guide behind the iron curtain. She has been tending a bar in Key Largo and in Limerick and was the chairwoman of the Womens Crises Centre in Uppsala.
Foreign language translations and releases
The Hour Zero
Timme Noll (2014)
What is the Hour Zero?
Stunde Null, hour zero, is what the Germans called the period after the second world war, when Europe was laid in ruins, and the world had to be built anew, on top of those ruins, by people who were, if not perpetrators, then carrying heavy loads of guilt. How do you start over? On the back of everything that’s happened? How much of your own complicity do you acknowledge, and how much do you try to hide, in order to keep living? In this novel Lotta Lundberg spins a world around the image of a woman standing in her own ruin, her own hour zero – where does she go from there?
Berlin 1945. The author Hedwig Lohmann is on traveling from the ruined city to a convent. About a year earlier her daguhter has made her way through hell. Where is she now – the girl she left behind? Is she even alive?
2005. Ingrid has quit her practice to move to the archipelago and be a priest’s wife. Her husband is ill and demands her care. But on the island lives also Hanna, the author that Karl-Erik seems to become closer and closer with.
1983. Isa cuts up her doll and as a teenager she ends up at a psychologist. One day she decides to create The Great Therapy-game – with balls, hearts and crosses. If you land on the wrong box on the board you will have to go straight to Chaos – but there are ways tom end the world.
With great skill Lotta Lundberg braids three voices together in a manner that brings The Hours to mind. The Hour Zero marks the end of the war, but also the human experience of standing in your own ruin. What is a woman allowed to do? What is most forbidden? Can you as a human get a new chance when the very worst has already happened?
Roll Up! Roll Up!
Skynda, kom och se (2006)
It is 1932 and an educated dwarf named Glauer is part of the “Lilliput” freak show on Coney Island, but dreams of becoming a playwright. His colleague Ka, a midget hermaphrodite, is to be exhibited outside the famous “incubator show” of deformed unborn babies. But she persuades Glauer to escape with her by boat to Europe, in search of their dreams and of redress.
In Berlin, Hitler has just come to power and is developing his euthanasia programme. There, the two others meet Nelly – a mulatto dwarf from Berlin – and Verner, the world’s smallest man. The four of them are the main protagonists, around whom the story revolves. They encounter a second group of circus midgets, shabby and terrified. Together they stand on the sidelines of the escalating violence, the blossoming cabaret culture, and the great longing for a sense of community without guilt offered by Nazism, with a corresponding longing of their own. But ultimately they are forced to flee to Sweden and its biggest amusement park, Gröna Lund in Stockholm.
Set against norm-obsessed Swedish social democracy and the theories of eugenics prevalent at the time, this sanctuary proves a chimera. Gröna Lund is a grease-painted hell; Lilliput is reborn. Injustice and hardship do not ennoble the dwarfs, their troupe and their dream crumbling in the face of ill-will from those around them, differences of opinion within the group, Glauer’s leadership and the dynamics of victimhood. The group scatters and the tale ends in a minor key.
This is the story of a dream of achieving remarkable things. Of daring to believe in your dream and to seek restitution. It explores human worth and Sweden’s wartime stance, and asks who we feel obliged to exclude when we try to construct utopias.
Based on a true event which took place on the island of Pitcairn in the Pacific Ocean, home of the Bounty mutineers and one of the last remaining colonies of the British Empire. In 2004, following reports made by tourists of underage sexual abuse on the island, charges were brought against most of the adult male population of Pitcairn, and three British social workers were sent to investigate. The islanders, a population of 47, were themselves divided, some of them blaming the British for encouraging the women to press charges. Most believed underage sex was normal and a Polynesian tradition. But did this tradition mask a tolerance of sexual promiscuity and tacit acceptance of child sexual abuse? Seven men went on trial and all but one were found guilty.
The Island tells the story of Olivia, drawn to Pitcairn by her love of adventure, the calm tempo and the relaxed attitude to love and sex. For twenty years she has worked as a doctor in the island’s clinic and become part of its culture. She has fallen in love not only with the island but with Taip, its local leader.
Then suddenly there is the British Visit, and everything changes. The English social services administrators sent to the island to handle the case find that for a couple of sweltering months their preconceptions of freedom, sexuality and guilt are turned upside down. At first Olivia resents the presence of the British social workers but she is subsequently forced to question values she has always taken for granted. What is right and what is wrong? Is it simply a question of two different outlooks, a collision of cultures?
I base my writing around an ethical conflict
”A novel takes many years to write, to keep myself intrigued for such a long time, I need to whirl around a problem, a moral dilemma, an existential question, I enjoy dwelling on it, delving into it. Seeing all the films about it, spending hours in libraries immersing myself and ultimately visiting the places I will be writing about. To shape my characters I pretend to be an actress. As someone once said: I have tasted from all the bottles in the bar but haven’t yet experienced that particular cocktail.
If I cant feel what my protagonists feel it wont come across as authentic. Therefore I can truly say that writing is my passion. It is as painful as it is wonderful.
Conventional jobs are fairly straightforward – a doctor heals, a lawyer strives for justice, a teacher educates and nurtures. Only writers and artists are free to ask questions without the responsibility of having to deliver answers. I am not looking for answers, I am fascinated by human ambivalence. I want to explore prejudices and taboos. It is seldom uncontroversial.
For instance one of the questions I pose in my novel All I Want, which is set in Ireland, is ’What do we need fathers for?’ In my novel The Island, set on the pacific island of Pitcairn, I ask, ’Whom does paradise belong to? Who is entitled to impose their values on others?’ In Roll Up! Roll Up! which revolves around the freak shows of the 1930s, I ask ’who do we feel obliged to exclude when we try to construct utopias?’
I currently live in Berlin. A city full of moral dilemmas. The recent past is still very present. Questions of guilt and shame, responsibility and the avoidance thereof and other related universal themes are never far below the surface. It is a most inspiring stop along my journey.
We look for quick fixes to eliminate pain, I believe life has to contain pain. The arts are a way of discovering our destructive potential as well as a cry for beauty and love. Some say that literature is an escape, a seduction or a place of comfort. For me it is a greenhouse in which I am growing.
Maybe fantasy is the key to empathy. Or is empathy the key to fantasy?
This is what the humanities are all about. To briefly experience the life of somebody else. This is what I try to provide through my writing.”
Lotta Lundberg, Berlin 2014