Gömda (Buried Alive) is the 1995 literary debut of Swedish author Liza Marklund. It is the first novel in the Maria Eriksson series.

The novel is based on a true story and deals with a woman who is abused by her boyfriend and forced into hiding. It was re-worked and re-released in 2000, and the new edition became one of the best selling books of all times in Sweden.[1][2][3]

The pseudonym used for the main character in the series is "Maria (or Mia) Eriksson", who is also listed as a co-author of the first editions of the two books in the series.


Buried Alive tells the story of "Mia" and "the man with the black eyes", an immigrant from Lebanon, that soon turns into an abusive relationship. They have a child together and they break up, but the abuse continues and is intensified when "Mia" remarries. The welfare state is not able to protect the family, and they are forced into hiding.[4]


A second book in the Maria Eriksson series, Asylum Granted, was published in 2004. It describes how the woman is forced to flee abroad with her family. Finally, in February 2003, she is granted asylum in the United States, on grounds of domestic violence. The story received a lot of attention in Sweden, and was even discussed in the Swedish Parliament.[5]

"The man with the black eyes" is the antagonist also in Asyl Den Sanna Fortsättningen på Gömda (Asylum Granted - A True Story), the second book in the series, published 9 years later. The book tells the story of how the abuser forced the woman and her new family to flee abroad. They left Sweden for South America and then spent five years in the United States, attempting to establish asylum. "Maria Eriksson" submitted her application as a victim of domestic violence and gender-based abuse. "Maria Eriksson" was granted asylum on February 25, 2003.[6]


Swedish journalist Monica Antonsson released a book in 2008 criticising the factual background of Buried Alive.[7][8] Liza Marklund and her publisher argued that although some changes were made to make identification more difficult, the bulk of the story was factually correct.[9] They conceded, though, that the novel should have been labeled as "based on a true story", rather than as "a true story".[10][11][12]

Antonsson criticised that Maria Eriksson's grades and jobs were not factually correct, and that the ethnicity of a boyfriend and his criminal record was not reflected in the books. For example, the hospitalization of "the man with the black eyes" after aggravated assault by "Maria Eriksson's" Chilean husband, who was convicted and imprisoned for one year due to the assault, was not mentioned in the book.

In response to the criticism, Marklund has stated that she considers the bulk of the story to be factually correct and neither exaggerated nor deceptive.[10] She has noted that the story is supported by hundreds of official documents from the courts and the social services. She has also written that she did not know of the aggravated assault committed by "Mia Eriksson's" Chilean husband, and that she read about for it the first time in Monica Antonsson's book. However, she noted that if Antonsson's information about the records is correct, then the court's decision confirms that the family was being harassed by "Maria Eriksson's" ex-boyfriend.[13][14]

The controversy has been compared to the controversy surrounding Per Olov Enquist's Legionärerna and led to academic work studying the audience's relation to documentary novels. The genre is based on a mix of fact and fiction, where the author's own interpretation is part of the genre's conventions. The documentary novel often has a political objective, which in Buried Alive was to bring to the fore an abused woman's exposed situation.[15] The genre also, like many Hollywood movies, uses popular clichés to appeal to a broader audience.[16]

Gömda (Buried Alive) was initially released by Bonniers in 1995 and marketed under the category "autobiography/biography" in the publishing industry's catalogue.[17] It was re-worked and re-released by Piratförlaget in 2000 as Buried Alive - A True Story and marketed as a "documentary novel", a term used by Piratförlaget also for the edition published by Bonniers.[17]

In January 2009, the Swedish National Bibliography and the public libraries of Sweden reclassified all editions as fiction due to questions raised about the factual nature of the book.[18][19] The classification of Asylum - the True Continuation of Buried Alive was not altered as it had been classified as fiction from the very beginning.

A spokesperson and part-owner of the Piratförlaget, Jan Guillou, has told the press that the company regrets that the book was marketed as "a true story" and that "based on a true story" would have been better.[20][21] In Expressen, the evening tabloid where Marklund worked, another part-owner of the publishing company, Ann-Marie Skarp, has stated that readers could not have been fooled by the label "true story" because, she argued, intelligent readers understand that the book is a novel based on reality and that it is not meant to be a biography.[22]

Kerstin Angelin at the initial publisher, Bonnier Alba, has also commented in the press on the controversy by saying: "The storyline, the bulk of the story, must be correct for it to be called a true story. However, for various reasons one may not want to expose individuals with name and professions, out of concern for them. It is perfectly reasonable that not every detail is true."[23]

After the controversy regarding the truthfulness of the books, "Mia" revealed her identity in 2009 in order to confirm her story.[24] Today she lives with a new husband in Arizona. Since 2006 she has written three additional books about her life and about domestic violence, but without Liza Marklund being involved.[25]


  1. ^ Tveksam lansering av Mias hemlighet[permanent dead link] (Hesitant promotion of Mia's secret). Svensk Bokhandel, 19 October 2005. In Swedish.
  2. ^ Isobel Hadley-Kamptz: Sanningen om Marklunds bok Archived 2011-08-09 at the Wayback Machine (Isobel Hadley-Kamptz: The truth about Marklund's book). Expressen, 10 januari 2009. In Swedish.
  3. ^ Personligt. Frågor och svar: Hur många böcker har du sålt?. Piratförlaget. Retrieved 5 February 2009. In Swedish.
  4. ^ Bokrecension: Gömda Mimers Brunnn
  5. ^ Skriftlig fråga 2003/04:1366. The Riksdag website, 22 June 2004. In Swedish.
  6. ^ Fakta Maria Eriksson[permanent dead link] (Facts Maria Eriksson). Piratförlaget AB. In Swedish.
  7. ^ "Toppadvokat krävde att få förhandsgranska (Top lawyer demanded pre-publication examination)" (in Swedish). Realtid.se. 28 November 2008. Archived from the original on 20 July 2012. Retrieved 24 November 2012.
  8. ^ Svensk krimidronning beskyldes for at lyve (Swedish Crime novel queen accused of lying). Politiken, 15 December 2008. In Danish.
  9. ^ Marklund: "Gömda" är Mias sanning. Dagens Nyheter, 18 January 2009. In Swedish.
  10. ^ a b "Marklund om härvan: "Jag har aldrig ljugit" (Marklund about the affair: "I have never lied")" (in Swedish). Expressen. 12 December 2008. Archived from the original on 24 February 2009. Retrieved 24 November 2012.
  11. ^ Marklund: "Gömda" är Mias sanning. Dagens Nyheter, 18 January 2009. In Swedish: "Människor har misstolkat "Gömda" och trott att detta är en journalistisk, objektiv sanning som presenterats, men det är det inte [....] det är Maria Erikssons sanna historia, som hon upplevde den" (People have misinterpreted "Gömda" and believed it was a journalistic, objective truth presented, but that's not what it is [....] it is Maria Eriksson's true story, how she experienced it).
  12. ^ "Fakta och lögner om "Gömda" och "Asyl" (Facts and Lies about "Buried Alive" and "Asylum")" (in Swedish). Newsmill. 1 January 2009. Archived from the original on 30 July 2012. Retrieved 24 November 2012.
  13. ^ "Fakta och lögner om "Gömda" och "Asyl" (Facts and Lies about "Buried Alive" and "Asylum")" (in Swedish). Newsmill. 1 January 2009. Archived from the original on 30 July 2012. Retrieved 24 November 2012. Slutsats: familjen var utsatt för omfattande trakasserier innan Anders körde på Marias ex-fästman [...]tingsrättens dom (om nu Monica Antonssons uppgifter stämmer) bekräftar familjens utsatta position. (Conclusion: the family was the target of extensive harassment before Anders drive into Maria's ex-boyfriend [....] the district court's decision (if Monica Antonsson's information is correct) confirms the family's vulnerable position).
  14. ^ "Fakta och lögner om "Gömda" och "Asyl" (Facts and Lies about "Buried Alive" and "Asylum")" (in Swedish). Newsmill. 1 January 2009. Archived from the original on 30 July 2012. Retrieved 24 November 2012. Eftersom jag inte fått några uppgifter om detta eller har läst någon dom i frågan så måste jag luta mig mot Monica Antonssons uppgifter för att svara på detta." (Since I did not receive any information about this or have read any court decision in the question, I have to lean against Monica Antonsson's information in order to reply to this.)
  15. ^ Möller, Valdemar. Det brutna kontraktet: Om den missförstådda genren dokumentärroman och vad som sker när kontraktet mellan författare och läsare upphävs. Examensarbete, Karlstads Universitet, 2009.
  16. ^ Heith, Anne. Gömda. En sann historia – romantik, spänning, melodram och populärorientalism Archived 2011-10-06 at the Wayback Machine. Svenskläraren nr 4, 2006, s. 19-26.
  17. ^ a b Vad för slags bok är "Gömda"? (What kind of book is Buried Alive?). Sydsvenskan, 17 January 2009. In Swedish.
  18. ^ Omklassificering av Gömda Archived 2009-12-21 at the Wayback Machine (Reclassification of Buried Alive). Bibliotekstjänst, 19 January 2009. In Swedish: "Även förlag och en av författarna medger nu den fiktiva karaktären. När boken ursprungligen kom 1995 fanns inga sådana uppgifter. Den presenterades som en sann historia och såväl recensenter som BTJ:s lektörer hade ingen avvikande uppfattning. Följaktligen klassificerade BTJ och nationalbibliografin boken på fackavdelning [...] Eftersom vi bedömer ändringen som brådskande kommer vi i detta fall att frångå de normala rutinerna kring ändrat huvuduppslag (ÄHU) och med början måndag 19 januari starta rättningsarbetet". (Even the publishers and one of the authors now admit the fictitious character. When the book originally came in 1995, there were no such data. It was presented as a true story and neither the reviewers nor BTJ's assistants had a dissenting opinion. Consequently BTJ and National Bibliography classified the book as belonging to the non-fiction department [...] Since we consider the change to be urgent, we will in this case depart from normal routines regarding changes in the main entry and beginning Monday, January 19 we will start the correction work).
  19. ^ Kuprijanko, Alexander. Gömda klassas som roman (Buried Alive classified as novel). Sydsvenska Dagbladet, 19 januari 2009.
  20. ^ Guillou fortryder markedsføring af Marklund-bog (Guillou regrets marketing of Marklund-book). Politiken, 23 December 2008. In Danish.
  21. ^ Förlaget: Vi borde gjort som i Hollywood Archived 2011-08-29 at the Wayback Machine (The publishing company: We should have done as in Hollywood). Expressen, 20 December 2008. In Swedish.
  22. ^ Förlaget: Vi borde gjort som i Hollywood Archived 2011-08-29 at the Wayback Machine (The publishing company: We should have done as in Hollywood). Expressen, 20 December 2008. In Swedish: "Vad vill ni säga till dem som faktiskt känner sig lurade? - Jag utgår ifrån att de är intelligenta läsare som förstår att det är roman, som bygger på en verklighetsbakgrund, men att det faktiskt är en roman. Det är inte menat att vara en biografi, säger Ann-Marie Skarp."
  23. ^ Marklund backar om "sann historia" (Marklund reverses in regards to "true story"). Dagens Nyheter, 12 January 2009. In Swedish: "- Själva handlingen, grundhistorien, måste stämma i sak om man ska kalla det "en sann historia". Men däremot kan man av många olika skäl inte vilja lämna ut personer med namn eller exakta yrken, av hänsyn till de inblandade. Det är fullt rimligt att inte varje detalj är sann."
  24. ^ Edblom, Kristina. ”Skräcken finns fortfarande kvar”. Aftonbladet, 2009-02-13.
  25. ^ Emma, Mias dotter Archived 2011-10-06 at the Wayback Machine Adlibris