Maria Ernestam had a successful debut with her book ‘Caipirinha with Death’, a novel that also touches upon violent and macabre aspects. As a writer she seems intensely driven, with a stylistic and compositional self-assurance honed to near perfection. Nothing happens unless it has been carefully prepared. Even her surprise elements arrive with explicatory relief… There’s a cruelty here, yet also something liberating in reading about a girl who focuses her actions outwards rather than directing her violence inwards. It is often also rather amusing. …it does not surprise me at all to hear that the film rights to both books have been sold.
It really is a drama about love… A marvellous relationship novel.
– Magnus Utvik, Swedish Television
This is a vertiginous story, a psychological novel with a hint of thriller about it.
…Maria Ernestam writes with a bizarre and macabre sense of humour that takes one’s breath away. This is a terrifying book about sorrow, anger and the road to death. At the same time it is terrifically funny! At nights I hear my manic chuckles echoing against the ceiling as I lie there reading. Ernestam’s language is like almost no other. It is poetical, brutal, dark and sparkling. Her stylistic components are woven together in an accomplished and unforced manner, without revealing the seams. Her psychological sharpness and ability to ‘read’ people is most likely very much like Eva’s: she sees, she understands – both tender and merciless.
If you buy any book this year, make sure it’s Maria Ernestam’s ‘Buster’s Ears’. That it didn’t win the August Prize and wasn’t even nominated is a scandal for the jury. An absolutely fantastic novel. If one describes its contents the whole thing sounds rather black. But it’s also full of warmth and charm. It’s about reconciliation and moving on and it’s written in a wonderful literary style. Highly recommended for all who love books.
A dark family drama about secrets and hatred, yet with a sense of love and hope, like a beautiful rose bush.
– Ingalill Mosander, Aftonbladet, Books of the Week
Maria Ernestam’s ‘Buster’s Ears’ is very skilfully crafted, and only at the end does the final piece of the puzzle fall into place. The tragic love story with John is also depicted with brilliance. A psychological suspense novel. One is happy to immerse oneself in it for a few days.
A book to devour.
In all honesty it is difficult to write about this novel in a way that does it justice. I liked it exceedingly… I almost do not want to exhort anyone to read ‘Buster’s Ears’ – I’d rather keep Eva for myself and pretend to sit among her roses, knowing what she knows without making myself too conspicuous.
– Gefle Dagblad
Is the day looking grey, is it raining? Wonderful! Then you can read Maria Ernestam’s second novel ‘Buster’s Ears’ (and then move on to her equally marvellous debut, ‘Caipirinha with Death’). It’s a smart weave of diary entries by 56 year-old Eva, who has been maltreated by her mother and men in general. If Maria Ernestam’s language could be bought, I would pay a million for it. Beautiful!
– Stockholm CITY
In the flood of bestselling novels that surge past and are instantly forgotten, Maria Ernestam’s debut ‘Caipirinha with Death’ stands out like a rock. This book about life and death, good and evil, time and eternity has been compared to the Russian classic ‘The Master and Margarita.’ I immersed myself in Ernestam’s new book ‘Buster’s Ears’ with great expectations. I was not disappointed. Ernestam’s depiction of the partition of a seven year-old girl’s psyche is coolly and tenderly executed.
Maria Ernestam deserves a standing ovation for this, her second book, and for the tight weave in which she envelopes me as her reader, pulling me in and hopelessly involving me in Eva and her reality. Certainly it is dark and unpleasant, but at the same time it is fantastic and captivating. What lingers after the last page is a feeling of the potency of love and the power of real hatred.
A skilful and beautiful depiction of how evil and darkness can grow even in what seem to be the most perfect and decorous of worlds.
This is a book with a dense and multi-faceted plot. One’s enjoyment is as intense as that conferred by dark chocolate. Just as last time, the result is fresh and unexpectedly logical. Ernestam really has an uncanny ability to weave the most unlikely of stories into everyday reality.
– Nerikes Allehanda
These are big questions. But Maria Ernestam writes with a light hand, almost nonchalantly. The reader slides through the story with ease, in spite of all the heavy, difficult aspects. It is quite remarkable, but it is difficult not to like it.
‘Buster’s Ears’ is a novel that slowly transforms itself from a feel-good story into a tense psychological thriller. This is a story about how words create lethal revenge, about a corrosive mother-daughter relationship, about jealousy, egoism and evil. It is a struggle for life or death.
What truly entices and lingers are the family secrets which at first are not apparent, although we sense them.
What makes ‘Buster’s Ears’ a fully-fledged thriller is Ernestam’s way of colliding the atrophying idyll of a small community with macabre actions. She shows how easy it is to break a human being with malicious gossip, and she demonstrates the nightmare of the Swedish eldercare system. The moral framework against which she supports all this is not conventional, although her tone throughout is solid and secure. In fact it is so secure that there is never the slightest question of judging those wielding the weapons. With ‘Buster’s Ears’, Maria Ernestam has written a novel that departs from the norm. Her sense of style has been honed by her experience both as a journalist and writer.
– FLT, published in Falu Kuriren, Borlänge Tidning, Blekinge Läns Tidning, Nya Ludvika Tidning, Sölvesborgstidningen, Karlshamns Allehanda etc.
Do not miss Maria Ernestam’s new novel ‘Buster’s Ears’ (Forum) which is a strong and gripping relationship drama about a childhood best forgotten.
The novel ‘Buster’ Ears’ captivated me from the first page. Two stories run in parallel. Diary entries from Eva’s childhood and adolescence are juxtaposed with the present. The story is both dark and hopeful, full of love and cruelty. It is a marvellous novel which I can wholeheartedly recommend.
This is no crime story, but it has elements of one. Nor is it a banal love story, but there are also aspects of this genre. First and foremost it is a story of mothers and daughters, about the mistakes that are repeated over generations and ultimately about the reconciliation which may be possible and is probably necessary. Finally it is a story packed with beautiful images and metaphors, written in an almost lyrical style.
Suggestively unpleasant and dark, yet filled with the hope of love. ‘Buster’s Ears’ is a reading experience that will stay with you for a long, long time. Absolutely fantastic!
– Camilla Läckberg, author of “Tyskungen” etc.
Maria Ernestam’s ‘Buster’s Ears’ is probably the best Swedish book I have read.
– Mats Strandberg, columnist and author of the successful Engelsfors-trilogy.
Buster’s Ears by Maria Ernestam (Forum 2006) is an absolutely outstanding novel which strikes directly at the heart. Maria Ernestam writes with an acute sense of observation and a high-octane language. She does not avoid difficult areas, her pen is used as a scalpel to create a fascinating story. If you are looking for something exciting, revolutionary and empowering to read in the autumnal gloom, you need to read this book!
– Sanna Ehdin, author of “Den självläkande människan” etc.
338 pages of psychological drama filled with power, relevance, and well written language properly composed and proportioned in its narrative development towards the beautiful and lethal climax! In this drama Ernestam has allied herself with some of the giants of Swedish letters. This is most clearly apparent in the mother-daughter theme, for which Bergman’s ‘Autumn Sonata’ is glimpsed as a literary model, while Strindberg makes an appearance in the depiction of Eva’s father, utterly at the mercy of his wife’s moody manipulations and incapable of protecting his daughter against the destructive mother. The question is whether there is not a debt owed to Selma Lagerlöf in Ernestam’s way of conveying her story in a relatively sober tone, stripped of all sentimental dross. The fact that these three giants hover over the text does not matter in the least, because Ernestam seasons everything with her own flavour and temperament.
– Politiken, Denmark
What at first seems to be a novel about the Swedish idyll, begins to develop an unexpected thriller tone. This woman’s novel about a ruined mother-daughter relationship is a gem. Above all the book punctures the well-known genre clichés.
– Die Welt, Germany
By switching from the past to the present the author adds life to the story, which shows a girl’s attempts to earn recognition and love from her mother, and at the same time the mother’s inability to create relationships based on empathy, a father who tries to mediate and the rivalry between a mother and daughter. There is no self-pitying whining about this story, which sparkles with refreshing, malicious exchanges. The girl develops into a vengeful person. And the moral of the story? That the most important thing is not to be caught red-handed.
– Der Standard, Austria