The New Press Remembers Sven Lindqvist

Friday, May 31, 2019

March 28, 1932May 14, 2019

The New Press was saddened to learn that Swedish author and public intellectual Sven Lindqvist has died in Stockholm at age eighty-seven. Lindqvist, whose books focused on colonialism, genocide, racism, European imperialism, war, and the environment, was a brilliant and mesmerizing writer; he is frequently cited by our staff and friends as the New Press author who most influenced their understanding of the world. Lindqvist’s best-known books were “Exterminate All the Brutes,” A History of Bombing, Terra Nullius, and The Skull Measurer’s Mistake, all of which The New Press was privileged to publish for an American audience.

In his introduction to The New Press’s 2014 Lindqvist collection The Dead Do Not Die, which brought “Exterminate All the Brutes” and Terra Nullius together in a single volume, the writer Adam Hochschild wrote, “Like many of the most original writers, Sven Lindqvist is hard to pigeonhole. He is not exactly a historian, for his graduate degree is in literature. He is not exactly a travel writer, for he has little interest in the colorful details that make a place seem exotic; he always wants to direct our attention back to our own culture. He is not exactly a journalist, for when he travels to far points on the globe, he is less likely to interview anyone than to tell us about his own dreams.” Hochschild continues, “Lindqvist’s work leaves you changed . . . [he] opens a world to us, a world with its comforting myths stripped away. You read him at your own risk.”

The world is a poorer place without Lindqvist’s probing intellect and lively mind, but he will live on through his magnificent books.   

Read Lindqvist's obituary in The Guardian.