The Eavesdropper

Maria Ernestam


Rights sold

Sweden: LB Förlag


I'm not an eavesdropper. I don't really want to know what other people are up to. What you don't get into, you don't have to get out of, it's really not more difficult than that.

Karl-Gunnar Hammarkvist is 64, an accountant and single. It would probably have remained that way if he hadn't been forced to leave the apartment he had lived in all his life. Due to a pipe replacement, he has to spend a few weeks in a makeshift apartment. Here he makes himself at home and sees the whole thing as a rather pleasant break in everyday life until one evening he happens to hear a conversation going on on the other side of the wall.

What he perceives cuts right through the armor he has built up around himself for decades, and he becomes obsessed with finding the woman who said what she said at the neighbor's in a therapy session. In the hunt for the unknown, Karl-Gunnar is forced to reconsider everything – his work, his relationships with other people, his morals. Above all, he is confronted with what he has repressed for so long. The terrible mistake that led to a disaster and to love disappearing from his life forever.

But is it possible to reconcile even with the worst? Is it possible to start over?
The Eavesdropper is the story of a life that turned out the way it did because of circumstances, and that nothing can be done about it. Until the day it does.




"I love such concentrated books where you have really worked with the text. It (The Eavesdropper) is a feverish, exciting story, it's cinematic, a little Kaurismäki, a little Modiano, he who won the Nobel Prize a few years ago. It's a bit mysterious, it's memories, it's moods, it's incredibly dramatic and at the same time very low-key. And drastic humor. I love The Eavesdropper!” - Johan Anderblad, TV4 News Morning Sofa


”This is such an amazing book. It has such twists and turns that it is almost like a detective story. I read it in one stretch! Fantastic …” - SVT Go’kväll, Johan Malm


The Eavesdropper by Maria Ernestam is 140 pages of pure and absolute reading joy! I enjoy the language and the setup of the novel … the intrigue is both personal and unique … a capturing and fascinating read … this is exactly what the author so skillfully masters – the balance between the beautiful, fragile and the threatening and dangerous … a great reading experience with rich content that I will carry with me for a long time.” - Agneta Norrgård, book blog


"On only 140 pages she succeeds to depict a whole life and how things done from the past are given unexpected consequences many years later. An older man, working as an auditor, lives by himself. His neighbor is a psychologist and has her reception at home. One evening he hears a conversation from the other side of the wall, a conversation that shakes his whole existence. Fascinating and utterly well written, it is impossible to not get moved." - Ingalill Mosander. Aftonbladet

”Maria Ernestam is an author who gives a voice to the quiet and the forgotten. She does this with a sharp, psychological eye while at the same time showing tender compassion with her literary characters. She never exaggerates in order to make everyday life more eventful than it is. That is how her story remains trustworthy. That is when everyday life turns into a gripping story, capturing the reader … Maria Ernestam is a brilliant storyteller who masters her subject and the art of spinning a yarn and in the nuances of her language there is a proselyrical tone, recognized by literary pillars of support Håkan Nesser and Johan Theorin. We thank them for that. This is fiction very much worth reading.” - Ölandsbladet Magazine,  Ragnhild Oxhagen


 "Ernestam has an original tone and The Eavesdropper demands the reader's presence even though it is neither difficult to read nor complicated, rather treacherously easy to read and positively peculiar." - BTJ Library Services


”This painting is for you, Karl-Gunnar Hammarkvist … at the same time, I could ponder over you and your life a little bit more … I devoured the book about your life, Karl-Gunnar, it was just impossible to stop reading … what an emotional explosion you have shared with me … this is an absolutely wonderful, unique novel that covers almost all life’s range of emotions – friendship, love, alienation, revenge …" Helena, Kustboktanten, book blog


”This is a story that extends far beyond any literary boundaries. As a kaleidoscope, it constantly presents new pictures, or as with a polygon; new sides. It is a tender tale about a human being who is unknown, also to himself. A person that nobody sees, hardly even the mirror, until he takes a step aside and suddenly becomes visible.” - Susanne, Boksann, book blog



”Like pulling the curtain a little bit aside, stand there in the dark and slowly behold a person’s life; the beautiful, the repressed, the genuine … an emotional gripping explosion … I will read this book again.” - Victoria Hellberg, Kafferatur, book blog


“A reading that turns into something other than expected … something fascinating and capturing … It is a finely tuned story about how circumstances both shape a person and make things that could have been one way become something completely different … Maria Ernestam has written a book that shows the breadth of her writing.” - Eva Boktokig,book blog


”I am very much impressed by the breadth of Maria Ernestam’s authorship … incredibly skilled in describing people’s alienation and loneliness … Do read The Eavesdropper … " - Agneta Krohn Strömshed, bibbloagneta,book blog



The Eavesdropper by Maria Ernestam is a novel about life choices and loneliness … this is a low key and quite sad story about how human beings are formed by circumstances. How the years just pass by and everything that could have been different just stays the same. A touching story about those slightly grey people spending their lives at the outskirts of existence. Maria Ernestam has a unique style which I like, and this book is no exception.”
- Maud Lindholm, tantmaud, book blog


”This is a real gem … a beautiful story of self-examination, courage, sorrow and how life can suddenly take completely different paths.” @alex_bergdahl, book blog


”… sensitive, complex and multi-faceted … a joy to read right to the very end.” @carolinesbokhylla, book blog


”Such knowledge of human character, storytelling ability and wealth of ideas – and then this wonderfully beautiful language!” - bariprovence, Malin Westfelt, translator