Eva Adolfsson was a literary critic, an essayist, and a novelist.
Eva Adolfsson was born in Malmö but grew up in Gothenburg where she also attended high school. Her father, Gunnar Adolfsson, was a working-class writer, a newspaper editor, and a politician. He was editor-in-chief of the Gothenburg-based communist newspaper, Arbetartidningen.
Eva Adolfsson read literature at Gothenburg university and then studied Russian at Stockholm university. During the 1960s she also spent a year in Moscow developing her Russian-language skills. She was politically active within left-wing circles and, from 1967–1970, was a member of the editorial board of the independent socialist journal Zenit. She edited the journal Ord & Bild from 1976–1982. At this time she was worked as a literary critic, mainly for the Dagens Nyheter newspaper. She played an important role as a vehicle of feminist and women’s movement-related issues.
From 1968–1982 she lived with Ulf I Eriksson, and they had two sons together, named Måns and Linus. Subsequently, from 1984–2000, Eva Adolfsson lived with the literary expert Ulf Olsson, and the couple married in 1987. They too had a child together, a son called Bruno. Eva Adolfsson was a long-term resident of Knivsta in Uppland. However, following her divorce from her second partner she moved to Stockholm. She spent her summers at her father’s childhood home in the Småland town of Ryd.
Eva Adolfsson became a literary critic at an early stage and made her own written debut as an essayist. Her literary profile placed her amongst the radicals and feminists. Indeed, during her time as the editor of Ord & Bild the publication took on a radical left-wing tone. In 1980 she published a collection of her essays which was entitled Livstycken. This collection, like her later collections entitled I gränsland and Hör, jag talar!, contains essays on working-class writers and female authors, including her own literary acquaintances Stina Aronson, Birgitta Trotzig, and Sara Lidman.
Eva Adolfsson made her debut as a writer of fiction in 1989 upon the release of her book called I hennes frånvaro. The central focus of the novel was the search for one’s past. The lead character in the book, Gertrud, finds herself in some kind of no man’s land lying between myth and reality, between a world without speaking and a world of the spoken word. She had previously been a mermaid and whilst in the shimmering depths of the sea she had been able to sing her own song in a strong, beautiful, and sonorous manner. However, in the present time of the novel she – despite being a teacher – finds it hard to express herself and she is torn between the desire to return to the deep seas and her longing to join the brilliant world above water which renders her unable to speak.
Eva Adolfsson’s next novel, called Till Moskva, was published in 1995 and is situated in the Russian capital of the title. This book is clearly autobiographical in nature. It tells of 19 year-old Agnes who travels to Moscow in the late summer of 1962 in order to spend a year there studying Russian language and literature. The novel portrays a young woman’s search in a very sensitive and almost physically tangible manner all the while simultaneously depicting a grey and cold post-war city.
Eva Adolfsson’s 1998 collection of essays entitled Till skilda orter also bears autobiographical elements. For example, it includes the story about the author as a little girl travelling to Romania in the early 1950s. The collection of short stories comprises eight linked tales, each of which focuses on a female writer who travels to different places. However, it is not the geographical locations which are important, rather it is their significance at a given point in time or within a historical context.
Eva Adolfsson’s novel Förvandling, published in 2005, which won the Sveriges Radio prize for novels, is a smart and entertaining, but also very serious work produced in response to Knut Hamsun’s late nineteenth-century novel Sult. Her book tells of a young woman’s almost insatiable hunger for the future, which just keeps growing whilst she wanders through the Sundbyberg suburb of Stockholm, carrying a growing foetus inside her. Eva Adolfsson’s fourth, and final, novel called En liten historia, published in 2009, was one of the nominees for the August prize. It is a lingering and feather-light story about a romantic meeting which never takes place. In this work Eva Adolfsson’s lightly distancing and slightly ironic style reaches its peak.
Eva Adolfsson died in 2010. She is buried in The Woodland Cemetery in Stockholm.