At the beginning of the 20th century, Spain is shaken by war and a national depression. But the country is also experiencing an exceptional cultural awakening. It is at this time that a newly engaged artist couple, Sigge Jernmark and Ninni Billing, arrive in the legendary city of Granada. They enjoy time together and their love for each other, capturing the moment with their brushes. What they ignore is the imminent death of one of them.
The discovery of a mysterious tomb many years later, in the cemetery near the Alhambra Palace, becomes the beginning of the captivating tale of the destiny of Sigge and Ninni. A series of amazing coincidences involves several people in the story, including the author himself.
Five Weeks in Granada is a dramatization, based on a large number of true events and supported by several years of research on the protagonists Sigge Jernmark and Ninni Billing. One of the most important sources for the novel is a manuscript written and richly illustrated in 1922 by Sigge Jernmark, but the author has also collected information from the daily press of the time, local archives, and historical facts.
“This is the story of five weeks in southern Spain, at the beginning of the last century. It includes a fate that affected people who were born much later. I am one of them”, writes the author in the preface.
The story started with an article in the local Swedish newspaper in Spain, Sydkusten, of which Mats Björkman is the director. "After that, it lay fallow for nearly 20 years, before it rose to prominence again and a series of events prompted me to write this novel. The fact that amazing things happened during my research has only strengthened my belief that The story wanted to make itself known.”
"In retrospect I have realized that the knowledge and skills that I have acquired throughout my life have been necessary for this novel to come to life,” says Mats Björkman. "Only someone who is bilingual in Swedish and Spanish, who knows how to write, who has journalistic training to be able to investigate and interview, and who possesses a thorough knowledge of both Spain and Sweden could have assembled the material for the novel. Furthermore, as can be read In the book, I was involved in events myself, so I decided to tell the story partly in first person, as one of the characters.”
Five weeks in Granada is the debut of Mats Andrés Björkman as a novelist and the first version to be published was the Swedish one, in May 2022.
(Translated from swedish)
Björkman's deep familiarity with Andalusian cultural history creates a context and the author paints scenes both from the forgotten lives of the two artist lovers and from the history of Granada. The result is that the reader embarks on an expedition both to the past and to the present that stimulates all the senses and creates direct links with a not too distant past. Well worth a read, especially if you're traveling to Spain this spring!
– Katarina Tavakol (The Swedish Library Magazine BTJ, No. 8, 2022)
In the book, which tells the story of the fascinating fate of the Swedish couple, Mats Andrés Björkman allows the plot to alternate between the past and the present and combines fiction with documentary prose, thus creating an understanding of what Spain was like a hundred years ago. The result is a captivating story set in a historic Andalusian setting, making it a worthwhile read especially for Swedes interested in Spain.
– Thomas Gustafsson, Spanienportalen.se
...The author manages through skilful representation and impressive research to captivate the reader and you can't help but love the main characters of the novel, as well as the literally pictorial description of Andalusia. A beautiful, exciting and engaging novel that I wholeheartedly recommend.
– Jens Vincent (Boktipset)
Note: 5 (out of 5)
An absolutely fantastic book; it is emotional and well-crafted at the same time..! Mats Andrés Björkman has managed to perfectly mix reality with fiction and it is clear that most of the information presented in this book is based on real events. It is a beautiful book that conveys both the setting and the story. It is complemented by drawings from Sigge Jernmark's manuscript from 1922, when Sigge and Ninni were in Granada, which makes the story touch even more to the heart.
– _enbokiveckan_ (Instagram)
Reader Comments (translated from Swedish)
You can't stop biting your nails! History, art and culture, traditions, medicine, research and no less emotion! The readers gets it all!
– Torbjörn Asplunder
The novel is exciting and descriptive, the narrative flows, and the book is hard to put down. For a former Swedish resident like me, it also sparks memories of people and places. Keep writing Mats!
– Cristina Malmros
It is interesting, amazing, beautiful, romantic, sad, exciting and most of all educational. It's easy to read in an intelligent way, just as a journalist should write, with descriptions vivid enough to transport you between 1922, 1996, and the present. Read it!
– Carin Osvaldsson
Congratulations on a very interesting and exciting story. Also, it is very well written. I am especially impressed by the great work you have done to document yourself in every detail. Granada 100 years ago, newspapers of the time, painting, bullfighting, genealogy, etc. It´s a fantastic description!
– Ingemar Naeve (Former President of Ericsson Spain)