The Winners, by Fredrik Backman

Book blurb:

This is a small story about big questions.
It’s a story about family, community, life. 
It starts with a storm – and a death. 
But how does it end? 

Two years have passed since the events that no one wants to think about. Everyone has tried to move on, but there’s something about this place that prevents it. The residents continue to grapple with life’s big questions: What is a family? What is a community? And what, if anything, are we willing to sacrifice in order to protect them?

As the locals of Beartown struggle to overcome the past, great change is on the horizon. Someone is coming home after a long time away. Someone will be laid to rest. Someone will fall in love, someone will try to fix their marriage, and someone will do anything to save their children. Someone will submit to hate, someone will fight, and someone will grab a gun and walk towards the ice rink.

So what are the residents of Beartown willing to sacrifice for their home?


My review:

The Winners is the perfect final book in a searingly brilliant trilogy. Fredrik Backman is again flawless  as he describes ordinary people’s foibles, passions and behaviour. He made me cry, high-five and laugh out loud. Rarely have I enjoyed a book (and the previous two in the Beartown trilogy) at such a gut level. I fiercely loved so many of the characters (oh, Benji!) and they will all live with me forever.

Although ostensibly a book about ice hockey, in a town obsessed with the sport, it’s about so, so much more. If you’re totally uninterested in the sport, please don’t make the mistake of letting that put you off. Hockey is merely an analogy for life and business and community, so this is not a story about the sport, but about the very essence of being human.

The Winners continues the story of a small Swedish community, surrounded by forest, and the lengths they will go to to protect their town, lifestyle and families. It’s partly an indictment of society and partly a celebration of family and community.

The writing is poetic, poignant, insightful, sometimes funny and always authentic. Backman tackles serious themes, but ever so gently. His writing is understated, but powerful and profound. He uses so many brilliant devices, like having the Beartown community narrate events for us, or working the epilogue into the story to introduce a feeling of dread, or let us know how things are going to turn out way into the future.

Brilliantly translated by Neil Smith, this is a highly recommended five star read.

To see my review of the first in the series, Beartown, click here, and to view my review of the second, Us Against You, click here

About the author:

Fredrik Backman is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of A Man Called OveMy Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She’s SorryBritt-Marie Was HereBeartownUs Against You, and Anxious People, as well as two novellas and one work of nonfiction. His books are published in more than forty countries. He lives in Stockholm, Sweden, with his wife and two children.

Read the New York Times profile of Fredrik Backman.


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