Man is the Most Beautiful City
San Francisco is a self-proclaimed adventurer from the Horn of Africa currently stuck in Northern Europe. His bag of money is empty. The borders are closed. Life at this new place is all about figuring out a way to leave. Leave for the shimmer, for America. There’s more to the journey than getting there, like the people you meet and find solace in. Manni, who is looking online for women to marry for a chance of getting papers. Richard, who used to be Hussein, and who believes that men in suits are out to get him. Isol, with a gun in her purse. Madam on The Island who is looking after the park after her husband passed away. And Yei, beloved, crazy Yei, who is lost along the way but later found again.
Everything is in motion, everyone is on the fence. Everyone is being hunted. But by what? Loan sharks? Secret service? Border control? Masked Black Roosters looking to reclaim the island? Or are they hunted by their own story?
So what, says Yei. Let the demons come.
There has to be something out there for us, says San Francisco, there just has to.
Människan är den vackraste staden
Natur & Kultur
Swedish manuscript (final)
Nominated for the 2019 Nordic Council Literature Prize
Shortlisted for the 2018 August Prize
France/Editions du Seuil
The Netherlands/De Geus
”The gallery of characters is swarming with originals […] The novel is funny, deeply thoughtful, relevant, and disquieting. Stylistically, it rises like a tower out of contemporary Swedish literature. The lines are filled with poetic wit and wild associations.”
“Man is the Most Beautiful City is Swedish-Eritrean author Sami Said’s third, scintillating novel. It's a tragicomic picaresque with a heart that beats for our time, and a stylistic adventure in which every sentence is a poetic bullseye. A future winner of the August prize? I’m shooting for the stars and keeping my fingers crossed for San Francisco.”
“Sami Said […] charges at us with bold metaphors and absurd plot twists. Where Said’s debut had a certain steadiness of composition, in this book, he lets loose completely. So much and yet so little happens in this novel – one could almost call it ‘life’.
This kind of wobbly picaresque novel is always at risk of talking over itself and disintegrating into an aggressive din. When a story becomes an uninterrupted string of feelings and kicks, it is, paradoxically, also at risk of becoming a bit boring. Sami Said escapes this thanks to his distinctive imagery, his motley crew of characters, and his immaculate timing.”
In order to finish his novel, the main character in Monomania, Sami, had to disappear. He broke free and isolated himself in a world where no one had access. Not even Sarah, the person that was closer to him than anyone had ever been before.
Monomania is the letter Sami wrote to Sarah when he finally finished. It is one long apology and a touching declaration of love. But it is also the story of what really happened and why he had to leave everything behind.
Monomania is about writing conditions: the discipline and self-imposed punishment, loneliness, doubt, and the passion that makes the writer Sami continue, even though everything around him collapses.
Monomania has the same linguistic brilliance and drastic humor as Sami Said’s debut Hardly Ever Nice, but also displays a deeper sincerity. Writing is a matter of life and death. But what if the stakes for love are just as high—is it too late?
“Said now proves that he is not a one-book-phenomenon, but one of the most talented among his contemporaries.”
“Creative anxiety, alienation and a quiet intense passion, rendered with humour, darkness, and linguistic virtuosity.”
Hardly Ever Nice
When Noha leaves the family home in Gothenburg to go to university, his head is crammed with warnings and threats. His grandfather’s words, about what living among the godless could do to a pious young man, ring loud and clear in his ears.
At first, things seem to be going rather well. He keeps to himself and reads obsessively about his would be homeland, Eritrea. On the walls in his room, he has pinned notes with “Eat!” written on them. But the quiet, orderly life he has carefully protected is starting to come apart. His isolation is punctured, first by a coarse friend, then by the stirrings of love. The constant presence of these others is threatening to turn his life upside down, and when he receives news of his grandfather’s death in Eritrea, the dam he has spent so long building bursts altogether.
Together with his father, Noha returns to the country from which he once came. During a couple of sweltering weeks, the novel reaches its climax as it builds to a confrontation of the myths about the family, the war and the flight, as well as the truths and lies about questions of origin, identity and belonging. Who is he? And who could he be now?
“It’s one of the best Swedish debuts I’ve read. Said is not an entertainer, nor is he an aesthete; rather he is uncompromising, not in the least ingratiating and quite consciously stripped of charm […] I devoured this book. I’m grateful that a first time Swedish writer can be so full of narrative zest and take his reader so seriously.”
“This is a brilliant debut. Sami Said’s writing flows along perfectly; it wraps me in its funniness with more than a few black strokes in its undertow. The publishing year is not over yet. But if Hardly Ever Nice is not at least shortlisted for every single literary prize, you all just have wretchedly bad taste.”
“Hardly Ever Nice is an outstanding debut by a hyper talented author. A distinct narrative voice darts quickly between exaggerations and understatements, creating a dramaturgy built on a vibrating solemnity.”
“Genuinely talented and funny debut […] with a sharp eye and a rich style.”