Mare Kandre was one of the most notable authors of the late 1900s. Today (2017) her work is increasingly regarded as belonging to the classics of Swedish literature. She was also active as a musician and an artist.
Mare Kandre was born in Söderala in 1962. Her mother, Tiuu Hansson, was a biologist and had gained her doctorate. She had fled to Sweden from Estonia during the Second World War. The name Kandre was Tiuu Hansson’s maiden name and Mare Kandre chose to adopt it as her own surname. Mare Kandre’s father was a civil engineer and it was due to his job that the family moved to Canada. Mare Kandre’s Canadian experiences were influential for her writing and resulted in her first book, published in 1984 and entitled I ett annat land. Following two years’ living in Canada she and her family returned to Sweden. They settled in Nordostpassagen in central Gothenburg. Although Mare Kandre never attended high school she spent a year studying art at the Byam Shaw School of Art in London from 1979–1980.
Mare Kandre was just 22 years old when her first book, I ett annat land, was published. This account of her childhood was much acclaimed by reviewers and readers alike. In some ways Mare Kandre had already made a name for herself prior to this literary debut. She had already held her first solo exhibition at Galleri Vita Katten in Stockholm and she was a singer and a composer who performed in three separate punk bands, namely Kramp, Ruhr, and Global Infantilists. However, she more or less gave up her musical career following the publication of her first book.
Mare Kandre’s second book, published in 1986, was a poetry collection called Bebådelsen. This was followed by the lyrical prose of Bübins unge in 1987 and the novel Aliide, Aliide in 1991. These works, much like her first, revolve around her childhood and the transition to adulthood. After Aliide, Aliide Mare Kandre changed direction. Her 1992 collection of prose poetry called Deliria comprises social criticism prose poetry which also engages with the meaning of literature. In her 1993 work, Djävulen och Gud, she presents an alternative creation story. The next year she published a satire entitled Quinnan och Dr Dreuf, a novel which has been acclaimed as a feminist work as regards its depiction of women’s history and the misogyny women have faced. Mare Kandre’s allegorical tale from 1999 called Bestiarium has been likened to Gothic horror novels and is situated in England of the 1800s.
In 2001 Mare Kandre published a short-story collection called Hetta och vitt in which some of the stories deal with contemporary environments and issues, such as the 1998 fire at the Hisingen disco in Gothenburg and the Bosnian war. Mare Kandre’s final novel, Xavier, was published in 2002. It is Kafkaesque: the lead character Xavier seeks someone whose name he does not know in a building containing never-ending hallways.
Mare Kandre died in 2005, aged only 42. She is buried at the Norra cemetery in Solna. The cause of death was an overdose of prescription medication. According to her family it was accidental. She is survived by her son, who was then 11 years old. At the time of her death she was writing an autobiographical novel which remains unfinished. However, in 2016 her cartoons from the 1970s and 1980s were published as Punkserier.
The Stockholms Internationella Poesifestival awards the Mare Kandre prize. This prize was set up in her memory and is awarded annually to a young, promising author. Mare Kandre herself won many different prizes during her career as an author, including the Aftonbladet literary prize in 1991, the De Nios Vinter prize in 1996, and the Göteborgs-Posten literature prize in 2000.