Welcome to America


Longlisted for ALTA’s National Translation Award 2020

Finalist for the Best Translated Book Award 2020

A family on the brink of silence

Ellen has stopped talking. She thinks she may have killed her dad. Her brother’s barricaded himself in his room. Their mother, a successful actress, carries on as normal. We’re a family of light! she insists. But darkness seeps in everywhere and in their separate worlds each of them longs for togetherness. Welcome to America is an exquisite portrait of a sensitive, strong-willed child in the throes of trauma, a family on the brink of implosion, and the love that threatens to tear them apart.

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Publication date

3 October, 2019




Linda Boström Knausgård

Linda Boström Knausgård (Sweden) is an author and poet, as well as a producer of documentaries for Swedish radio. Her first novel, The Helios Disaster, was awarded… Read more

Book Club Questions

  1. Why does Ellen decide to stop speaking, and what do you think she hopes to achieve?
  2. Can you describe the relationship between Ellen and her mother?
  3. Ellen’s brother features somewhat less in the story. Can you describe a little how you imagine his experience of coping with his grief to be?
  4. Do you think Ellen’s mother and the school are dealing with Ellen in the right way? Why, why not?
  5. What would help Ellen?
  6. When, if at all, is Ellen happy?
  7. What do you imagine for Ellen in the future; will she speak again?
  8. Are there moments in the novel where you can see that Ellen wants to speak? What happens in these moments?
  9. Did Ellen have a good relationship with her father? Does she miss him?
  10. What is the significance of the book’s title?
  11. Boström writes in a very poetic and hypnotic style; how do you think this adds to the experience of the novel?
  12. Have you read any similar books before (for example, first-person monologues)? If so, how do they compare? If not, would you consider it now?


“Here, restraint and ambiguity prevail, whether it’s about the intensity of the abuse Ellen sustained or the veracity of her assertions. Regardless, it’s a taut portrait of how difficult it can be to reconcile ideals about faith and family with their messier realities. An intense, recursive book that evokes the chill despair of a Bergman film.” —Kirkus Reviews

“Knausgärd is an impressive writer, and she has created a unique, powerful lead in a world all her own.” —Publishers Weekly

“A piercing story of a girl who responds to trauma by mustering the most powerful weapon available to her: silence. (…) melodic, mythological, transformative, a testament to literature’s powers… ” —Vanity Fair

“Knausgård’s story of a family in crisis is shocking and imaginative. Everything is written in beautiful and sparse prose which suggests that, after all, from darkness comes light.” —JURY, AUGUST PRIZE

“Knausgård’s artistry is masterful.” —Bookslut

“A singular and thought-provoking story with a child narrator you won’t soon forget.” —Book Riot

“Welcome to America presents itself as an étude in the musical sense of the term: a basic theme that varies to infinity, acquiring with each new variation a new unprecedented facet. A triumph.” —Le Monde

“With each sentence of her novella, Knausgaard gives a spare and poetic accounting of her narrator’s silent days…Together, they mark something quite lovely.” —CATHERINE HOLMES, The Charleston Post and Courier

“Every word is there for a reason.” —Minn Post

“A tender novel about a mute girl: gentle, sensitive, minimal, concise, subtle, and brutal. This is writing as self-defense and liberation.” —VOLKER WEIDERMANN, Spiegel

“Outstanding psychological chamber play. Linda Boström Knausgård has an incredible ability to give voice to the young narrator’s haunting thoughts and she does it through such dense prose that is both simple and powerful, both tangible and poetic.” —Politiken

“Boström Knausgård has her own poetic language. The imagery is just as natural and brilliant as it is mad and askew.” —Dagbladet