Sara Mannheimer grew up in Gothenburg, Sweden, and was educated in the United States, the Netherlands, and the Czech Republic. She now lives in Stockholm. In addition to writing, she runs the glassworks Stockholm Heta Glas (Stockholm Hot Glass). In 2011 and 2012, the critically-acclaimed Come Rushing, a dance-theatre work she collaborated on with the choreographer Birgitta Egerbladh, ran at Stockholms Stadsteater (Stockholm City Theatre). Reglerna (The Rules), her novel from 2008, was nominated for the August Prize and won the prize for debut writers from the newspaper Borås Tidning. Handlingen (The Action) was nominated for Swedish Radio's prize for novels.
Handlingen (The Action), is Sara Mannheimer's second novel, after the critically acclaimed Reglerna (The Rules). Here, the author continues to explore the development of different vulnerable mental states. The protagonist is a woman who is driven by a desire to conquer The Library, containing the educated world and the entire global collection of literature. Underlying this neurotic need to control the world around her, and to master the theoretical complexity of Roland Barthes and Julia Kristeva, is her overwhelming grief over a failed pregnancy. Magic and realism are intertwined in Mannheimer's poetic writing, and she succeeds once more in depicting the often well-concealed fragility of everyday life, erasing the fine line between reality and imagination. Stylized and weighted with symbolism, Handlingen is a portrayal of a human being's obsession with spiritual purity, and with replacing the weakness of the body with an unassailable intellectual identity.
What I want to say is: if only this had been a proper Home, a proper homecoming, a proper arrival, a place that could seriously support and curtail my wandering vanity, my vacillation in the face of where things begin and end, I would not have jumped as in a farce at the sight of Máram.
I would have grabbed hold of Máram's marvelous head, kissed my beloved, seized the day. For it's true that it's scarcely every day that we meet in private at Home like this on the spur of the moment.
I try to shake off my rapid pulse, turn my back on my nerves, but they persist in persecuting me.
--Take a breath, says Máram, who has patience, flesh, feelings, blood and hands, everything lifelike, yes, all of Máram is completely credible.
Most of all I don't want Máram to leave me in the lurch for a second.
Alone, thus absolutely abandoned, in the distinction between living, true REALITY, and repetition, plagiarism, copy, imitation, mimicry, parasitism, influence, paraphrase, interpretation, translation, replacement, and theft.
I don't want to be alone with LIVING absence and the eternal onrushing question.
And on no account do I want to be alone with my tempestuous electrocardiogram.
I must set about taking myself in hand.
In the quiet corners of Home, I'll finally find the peace to work, through style, form, content, urgency, musicality, pleasure, appetite, finally engrossing myself in knowledge, not just flying like a baby unicorn after fairy-tale jewels, but seriously taking up the art of alchemy, the alchemy of words.
At Home I'll become wise.
At home I won't just begin things but I'll see them through.
I will begin from the beginning and not run away, run out into what's greener, into what may come. I will finally have the chance to investigate what others have written to the living, the dead, and the as yet unborn. I will accept what I did not know I could receive.
At Home I will make my own fat, my own flesh, my own wobbly butt.
My soul will move into my meat.
I will sit in an armchair with my nose in a book, one after the other.
I will penetrate the mystery of scripture and the science thereof.
I will be initiated and utter the tacit hemming and hawing in the right way, at the right intervals.
At Home I will grow fat, become more of everything, more human, more body, more memory.
I will learn foreign languages, Indo-European, Semitic, and Slavic.
I will swim in the Sea of Etymology and wander in the Mountains of Theology.
I will become wise and my body will take the shape of a hut.