Elisabeth Åsbrink, born 1965, is one of Sweden’s most prominent nonfiction writers. She has written several praised books on historic and current topics, and has reached a widespread audience, especially with 1947: When Now Begins and And in the Vienna Woods the Trees Remain.
Ms. Åsbrink has written in depth on different forms of persecution, not in the least in her own family. Her father is a Holocaust survivor from Hungary, and her maternal grandfather was an immigrant to the UK from Thessaloniki in Greece, (whose Jewish population was almost totally wiped out during WW2). The story of him and of family secrets passing though generations is told in the autobiographical novel Abandonment (2020) and translated into Italian (2022), German (2023), Danish, Norwegian and Polish, among other languages.
These family stories she’s covered with both stylistic skill, thorough research and sensitivity, which is true of everything she writes. As a writer she stands free and is extremely loyal to the ideals that guide her: seeking the truth, respecting the people she writes about as well as their stories and smoking out oppression and hypocracy.
Elisabeth Åsbrink was nominated for the August Prize for her first three books and won the August Prize for best non-fiction book 2011 for And in the Vienna wood the trees remain. The book is based on 524 letters written to a boy who was sent to Sweden in 1939 by his parents in Vienna, in order to escape the Nazi persecution. There Åsbrink reveals the Nazi past of the IKEA founder Ingvar Kamprad.
The book 1947: When Now Begins received an award from the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences in 2017 and has been translated into over 20 languages.
Made in Sweden (Scribe, London 2018) is a collection of essays where she thoroughly examines Swedish image and self-image and reveals some uncomfotable national truths and lies along the way.
In 2017/2018 Elisabeth Åsbrink was the chair of Swedish PEN.
Elisabeth Åsbrink made her debut as a playwright 2012 with the play Tracks, and has since written several plays.
Between 1998 – 2015 she worked in the Swedish Public Service television with news shows, cultural programs and investigative journalism.