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.”