Book details


A Novel

Author: Sven Holm; Translated from the Danish by Sylvia Clayton; Foreword by Jeff VanderMeer




About This Book

"Like the radioactivity of its world, Termush crackles with an invisible, deadly energy." —Ray Naylor, author of Mountain in the Sea

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Book Details

"Like the radioactivity of its world, Termush crackles with an invisible, deadly energy." —Ray Naylor, author of Mountain in the Sea

With an introduction by Jeff VanderMeer that makes an ardent case for its relevance to today’s world, this rediscovered classic of Scandinavian fiction is still shockingly relevant more than fifty years after it was first published. Sven Holm’s Termush is a searing and prophetic study of humanity forced into a moral bind through its own doing.

Termush caters to every need of its wealthy patrons—first among them, a coveted spot at this exclusive seaside getaway, a resort designed for the end of the world.

Everyone within its walls has been promised full protection from the aftereffects of “the disaster.” The staff work behind the scenes to create a calming and frictionless mood; they pipe soothing music into the halls and quickly remove the dead birds that fall out of the sky. But the specter of death remains. Recon teams come and go in protective gear. Fear of contamination spreads as the hotel cautiously welcomes survivors only to then censor news of their arrival. As the days pass, the veneer of control begins to crack, and it becomes clear that the residents of Termush can insulate themselves from neither the physical effects of the cataclysm nor the moral fallout of using their wealth to separate themselves from the fate of those trapped outside.

Imprint Publisher

FSG Originals



In The News

"In this eerie last-days-on-earth scenario, the ones that can pay for survival spend their days in a mirage of security that crashes slowly and silently. The distance that Holm puts between the narrator and the reality of the resort creates a well-mannered, minimal, and disquieting style." —Mariana Enríquez, author of Our Share of Night

“In the more than 50 years between its writing and its American publication, Termush has lost none of its power to disturb . . . In this short book, [Holm] created something timeless . . . The clarity of [the novel’s] prose and the intensity of its vision inspire.”
—Matthew Keeley, Washington Post

"Timeless . . . with something of the power of parable."
The Chicago Review of Books

"Excellent. . . This vision of apocalyptic horror and class critique contains multitudes."
Publishers Weekly (starred review)

Termush’s universal setting and farsighted themes combine with the author’s eerie minimalism to make it feel as modern as it is avant-garde . . . A prescient parable that finds the rich dismayed with what happens after the world ends.”

"A superb find . . . An addition to the post-apocalyptic canon that lingers disquietingly in the reader’s mind . . . [A] survivalist variation on the hotel in The White Lotus . . . A travel guide to the world in which we are learning to live."
—John Gray, The New Statesman

"A creepy and enigmatic masterpiece."
—Doug Johnstone, The Big Issue

"Termush is gripping and brilliantly spare, provocative and suspenseful. It was difficult to put this novel down, and its echoes stayed with me long after reading, haunting and lovely."
—Maaza Mengiste, author of The Shadow King

"Termush is a terrifying inquiry into the nature of survival and the fragile calm that comes after a disaster. Sylvia's Clayton's translation of Sven Holm's work is crisp and elegant; I couldn't put it down."
—Catherine Lacey, author of Biography of X

Termush offers a soul-chilling inquiry into human behavior—cruel acts and generous ones, arguably defensible and hauntingly indefensible ones—in a past that may just be approaching us again."
—Megha Majumdar, author of A Burning

"At Sven Holm’s exclusive hotel at the end of the world, the wine is chilled, management is on edge, and the Discreet Charm of the One Percent is on full display. To read Termush is to encounter an uncanny vision of the future delivered from the past crashing the perimeter of our catastrophic present. The collision is wicked and revealing."
—Lisa Hsiao Chen, author of Activities of Daily Living

"Sven Holm's reemergent masterpiece is a surreal exploration of human continuity at all costs in the aftermath of societal and natural collapse. Termush could be our last-chance glimpse of what the exceptionalizing aura of wealth might ultimately offer in an all but dead world."
—Pitchaya Sudbanthad, author of Bangkok Wakes to Rain

"A classic: stunning, dangerous, darkly beautiful."
—Jeff VanderMeer, author of Annihilation

"Termush is like the Hotel California after the end of the world. A chilling and prescient tale about alienation—you can dodge the apocalypse but you can't escape yourself."
—Andrew Hunter Murray, author of The Sanctuary

"A mesmerizing novel about community in the wake of a catastrophe. Both mischievously surreal and terrifyingly real, Termush is a great work on the psychology of fear."
—Sandra Newman, author of Julia

"Building with the nauseating, relentless compulsion of a tidal wave, Termush touches on something elemental and true."
—Kiran Millwood Hargrave, author of The Dance Tree

"A dark and prophetic noir, Termush feels like a haunting, like someone from the future screaming to us in the past—but these pages are timeless. It is a remarkable and astonishing read."
—Salena Godden, author of Mrs Death Misses Death

"The novella’s themes, which will be familiar to readers of J. G. Ballard and Cormac McCarthy, haven’t lost their urgency . . . Most importantly, Termush works as a parable of inequality, reminding us that, unless the world redistributes its resources more fairly, it will continue to be haunted by visions of dystopia—devastating to haves and have-nots alike."
—Anna Aslanyan, The Times Literary Supplement

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