Ellen Strömberg: The Itch

Forty sleepless nights. One woman, one life, one defence speech.

Author: Ellen Strömberg
Swedish original: Klåda
Publisher: Schildts & Söderströms, 2019
Genre: Literary fiction
Number of pages: 178 pp.
Reading material: Swedish original, Finnish translation, English sampl
e, English synopsis

The woman stays awake every night because her body won’t let her rest. Her body tingles all over, it itches. It disgusts her. She scratches, she itches; she scratches and tears at her skin while her thoughts go round in circles.

The man next to her is asleep while the woman processes her nocturnal monologue. She talks to herself about herself, about her relationship, her work in the old folk’s home, her friends, her aunt who sends strange emojis. And about Helena, to whom something happened that shouldn’t have happened. Something that can’t be named even in the stillness of the night.

The Itch doesn’t leave the reader alone either, not during reading or afterwards. Ellen Strömberg’s first novel Chasing Water (2018) won the prize of Finland’s Society of Swedish Authors. Her characters are idiosyncratic, impressive and charmingly eccentric.

“The novel is a real page-turner. You can’t put it down, as is the case with all classic mysteries. But this is no crime novel: it is a dive into the dark sides of the human mind. The text is at the same time unpleasant, beautiful and painful. […]
I was astonished by The Itch. And I believe to see in it the beginning of a great authorship.”
– Åbo Underrättelser newspaper

“The novel is built in a genius way so that the reader wants to get more and more. The feelings deepen, the thoughts develop. There is not a single boring passage in the book – everything has a meaning. It is difficult to write in a composed and powerful manner, but Strömberg succeeds to do so. The whole novel is like a sudden and well-targeted punch. Everything that needs to be there is there, and not a single line of unnecessary drivel.”
– Österbottens tidning newspaper

“Strömberg has an eye for making seemingly simple details symbols for a whole world.”
– Svenska Yle, the Finnish national broadcasting company

The Itch is a French kind of a novel. On the surface it is light, but underneath there are dark and serious issues. The subconscious streams flow to be a part of Rebecka’s everyday life, and things begin to appear in a strange and even chilling light. There is a balace between weird, strange and ordinary in the novel. Everything can be as it seems and feels – or something totally different.”
– Reader, why did I marry him blog

“The Itch lives and breathes from the raw tragicomics of human relationships. Not emphasizing them, but nuancefully. Strömberg plays also, gently, with genrer roles and sexuality.”
Parnasso literature magazine

“The reader can let herself be enchanted by genius passages that are filled with the presence of the moment. The short-worded, exact dialogues create authenticity and describe personalities and locations in a way that catches the essence of the small discussions and moments in our everyday lives. This is all very recognizable, and the characters can be easily compared to those one has met in her own life.”
– Ny tid newspaper

Also available:
We’ll Just Ride Past (2022)
Chasing Water (2018)

Maggan–All Year Round (2020)

About the author:
Ellen Strömberg