Passagen The Electric State

In late 1997, a runaway teenager and her yellow toy robot travel west through a strange USA, where the ruins of gigantic battle drones litter the countryside along with the discarded trash of a high tech consumerist society in decline. As their car nears the edge of the continent, the world outside the window seems to unravel at an ever faster pace, as if somewhere beyond the horizon, the hollow core of civilization has finally caved in.

Simon Stålenhag is the internationally lauded artist and author of Tales from the Loop and Things from the Flood. Now, Stålenhag turns his unique vision to America in a new narrative art book: The Electric State.


  • “His art deserves the entire world’s appreciation. /…/ The depictions of people’s utter need for artificial satisfaction recall the last days of the Roman empire as well as HuysmansÀ rebour.”

    Expressen, Sweden

  • “Simon Stålenhag tells a modern epos in images and words. /…/ With delicacy and empathy, he depicts a young person through her own words, thoughts and story. /…/ His hand and voice form a whole that is unique. /…/ Stålenhag’s three books take place before, during, and after a hinted-at catastrophe. Tales from the Loop brings to mind subsequent works such as Stranger Things, but The Electric State is more reminiscent of the mood in The Walking Dead. And the genre certainly evokes a creeping sense of horror: the text contains closely portrayed frightening depictions of physical and mental decay and suffering, and the images are dominated by threatening, monstrous constructions in the distance and over-dimensioned, dissonant robot creatures. A feeling of being watched and an ever-present uneasiness, a feeling of threat, infuse the images. But it is the story in pictures and words, the symbiotic relationship between the two, that captivates the reader from start till finish. Be sure not to miss the part of the plot that only plays out in the images, either, inserted into a narrative by a foreign voice recalling memories about the world and the war. /…/ Stålenhag is a master of the art of telling a story in fragments. Piece by piece, the world, the plot and the protagonist emerge from the short texts that accompany the artworks. A lonely girl who plays a bigger role than she knows, on her way through an unforgiving wasteland. In this manner, The Electric State becomes a classic epos, but at the same time also a bildungsroman told in retrospect.”


    LitteraturMagazinet, Sweden

  • “Simon Stålenhag’s The Electric State is an intimate dystopia where the most beautiful imagery is found in the prose. /…/ Simon Stålenhag knows the art of prolonging the suspense and building a solid story. On top of this he manages to stir the emotions of the reader in just a few sentences, scenes from Michelle’s childhood singe. /…/ It is so beautifully written, with such luster, that the past sometimes seems more real than the grim present. /…/ In the end, it is in the small things that Stålenhag impresses the most. In what affects rather than stirs philosophical thought. The majority of the imagery I take with me after reading the book isn’t drawn, but hidden in the prose.”

    Fria Tidningen, Sweden

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Photo: #{bookData.artist.imageByline}Simon Stålenhag
  • Art & literary
Reading material

English edition

Swedish edition

Rights sold

Brazil, Companhia das Letras

China, Guomai (Simplified Chinese)

Czech Republic, Argo

Finland, Johnny Kniga

Germany, Fischer

Italy, Mondadori

Korea, Minumsa

Russia, Eksmo

Slovakia, Albatros

Spain, Roca

Sweden, Fria Ligan

Taiwan, Chi Ming (Complex Chinese)

Turkey, Ithaki

UK, Simon & Schuster

US, Atria / Skybound Books

Film rights sold


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