The Oblique Place
“Caterina Pascual Söderbaum has left a major European literary work of art as her legacy” STEVE SEM-SANDBERG, author of Emperor of Lies
The Oblique Place is a captivating journey of the imagination, a prize-winning novel that probes the ruinous legacies of Fascist Europe in the twentieth century.
The discovery of photographs in an album - of her Spanish grandfather who joined Hitler’s Wehrmacht and her father in the uniform of Franco’s army- leads Caterina Pascual Söderbaum to explore her family’s links to some of the most abhorrent passages of twentieth-century history. Her mother turns out to be related to Kristina Söderbaum, a celebrated Swedish film star of the Third Reich, adored by Goebbels.
She travels with husband and child to the shores of the idyllic Attersee in Austria, where the officers of the extermination camps spent their holidays. The journey continues from Schloss Hartheim, where the staff of the Nazi euthanasia programme forgot, with the help of alcohol and sex, the horrors that took place there, to the Villa Saint-Jean, where malnourished children from France’s internment camps were sent to recover.
This imaginative rediscovery of her own family’s disturbing history is fused with vividly captured episodes from other lives and times, and the threads of evil that she lays bare are described in language so beautiful, so subtle and painterly, that her odyssey is at once shattering and mesmerising.
Translated from the Swedish by Frank Perry
As I was being drawn into this shimmering, meandering, luminescent novel I felt impatience and reverence in equal measure . . . initially, I would read a few pages and put the book down, only then to be unable to tear myself away, unwilling to stop being inside it . . . every page, every person, a space - a place - to be in, the experience lives on outside the pages of the book . . . The whole world can be found in Caterina Pascual Söderbaum's An Oblique Place
A novel constructed on a grand scale, with rare architectonic ambition and finesse, a novel that inhabits its own world
Getting a glimpse of truly great writing is always earth shattering. It is both exhilarating and gruelling. Where should I start? With the images, with the thoughts, with the insights? With the language, that rises like the mountains around me. Majestic. Impregnable. And appealing. Caterina Pascual Söderbaum's novel communicates this feeling.
A truly singular book, enormous in scope, immensely personal at the same time that it is sweepingly historical in its concerns . . . This is a treasure of a book
Caterina Söderbaum writes here with a sensuous immediacy of detail. Superbly translated by Frank Perry, The Oblique Place meditates darkly on our moral and memorial obligations to the past.