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The Winners  By  cover art

The Winners

By: Fredrik Backman
Narrated by: Marin Ireland
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Publisher's Summary

A breathtaking new novel from the #1 New York Times bestselling author of Anxious People and A Man Called Ove, The Winners returns to the close-knit, resilient community of Beartown for a story about first loves, second chances, and last goodbyes.

Over the course of two weeks, everything in Beartown will change. 

Maya Andersson and Benji Ovich, two young people who left in search of a life far from the forest town, come home and joyfully reunite with their closest childhood friends. There is a new sense of optimism and purpose in the town, embodied in the impressive new ice rink that has been built down by the lake.

Two years have passed since the events that no one wants to think about. Everyone has tried to move on, but there’s something about this place that prevents it. The destruction caused by a ferocious late-summer storm reignites the old rivalry between Beartown and the neighboring town of Hed, a rivalry which has always been fought through their ice hockey teams. 

Maya’s parents, Peter and Kira, are caught up in an investigation of the hockey club’s murky finances, and Amat—once the star of the Beartown team—has lost his way after an injury and a failed attempt to get drafted into the NHL. Simmering tensions between the two towns turn into acts of intimidation and then violence. All the while, a fourteen-year-old boy grows increasingly alienated from this hockey-obsessed community and is determined to take revenge on the people he holds responsible for his beloved sister’s death. He has a pistol and a plan that will leave Beartown with a loss that is almost more that it can stand.

As it beautifully captures all the complexities of daily life and explores questions of friendship, loyalty, loss, and identity, this emotion-packed novel asks us to reconsider what it means to win, what it means to lose, and what it means to forgive. 

©2021 Fredrik Backman. English language translation ©2022 Neil Smith. Originally published in Sweden in 2021 by Forum as Vinnarna. Published by agreement with Salomonsson Agency. (P)2022 Simon & Schuster, Inc. All rights reserved.

Interview: Fredrik Backman Dedicates The Winners to Those Who Love Something Too Much

'Decent people are capable of really bad things if they think that they're protecting something that they love.'
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  • The Winners
  • 'Decent people are capable of really bad things if they think that they're protecting something that they love.'

Featured Article: Best of the Year—The 15 Best Fiction Listens of 2022


To say it’s a challenge to select the top fiction listens of the year (and this year especially!) is an understatement. But as hard as it is, it’s an even greater honor for our team to be able to listen deeply to so many amazing stories and then highlight the best of the best to you. Fiction is a big category—one that includes everything from epic family sagas to clever short stories, from historical fiction to near-future speculative works.

What listeners say about The Winners

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Fredrik Backman knows how to tell a story.

He starts with these vignettes with characters who seem separate and distinct and through revealed details of situations you begin to connect the dots. At the end of the book you understand that what seemed disconnected is really part of this incredible tapestry and the complex big picture stays with you for a long time. Somewhere in the story you begin to care deeply for the people whose lives are illuminated by the tale and you are filled with hope and fear and foreboding. He captures the female mindset so well that I looked him up to see if he was a woman writing under a male pen name! (He’s a guy!)
My first experience with this author was “A Man Called Ove” and I’ve acquired everything else he’s published. Not that I want him to have a poor quality of life, but could we just chain him to a desk to get even more superb books from him?

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Ugh

Spare yourself and read or reread Backman's other gems. Another reviewer put it best saying "...I wish I never read The Winners". I imagine the publishers pushed this through. Just a mess. Contrived in so many ways. Aside from a good bad joke and an accurate view of wind farms it's very disappointing. Made me recall the era when writers were paid by the word and would go on and on and on and... Can't wait for his next book.

4 people found this helpful

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Wonderful Writing With Brilliant Translation

I have nearly 700 audiobooks, yet this is only my third or fourth book review. That's how good this book is.

Translating Swedish to English is about as hard as it gets, yet the brilliance of this author shines brightly. Kudos to the translator.

The narration throughout this series was excellent. People were upset when "Hed" began to be pronounced differently starting in book 2. Don't blame the narrator, the author, or the translator. Blame the system in place for the making of audiobooks, whereby the audiobooks are often COMPLETED before the author ever gets to hear even a sampling of it. The author and his team likely asked for the pronunciation to be corrected.

As for the book itself, it is incredible. Arguably the best in the series. For those of you that abandoned the series after the first book, or after the mediocre second book, I highly recommend returning to this book.

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Regrettable

I don’t think this book should have been written. It makes the town of Beartown a place no one would want to visit, which erases my fondness for the first book in the series. I am a huge fan of Fredrik Backman’s novels, especially A Man Called Ove, but this book was really hard to get through. There is a dictum in writing that says ‘show don’t tell’. In Winners, Backman does tho opposite on overdrive. He tells and tells and tells. It’s repetitive and worse, pedantic.

3 people found this helpful

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Wonderful finale

Great way to end a beloved series. I never thought I would fall in love with a hockey book… but I did!

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Couldn’t stop listening

Winners is a beautiful finish to a heart wrenching trilogy. The story is narrated by one of my favorite narrators, discovered while listening to the first of the series, Beartown. Her voice is a part of Beartown and weaves through the lives of the characters. What a beautiful story.

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Final Beartown

The perfect ending to an emotional rollercoaster of a series. Wish it could have gone on forever! Thank you, Mr. Backman.

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Another gem

3 for 3! The series was a great example of storytelling that has a profound power to look inward. RIP Benji

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There isn’t enough stars

This has been such an emotional rollercoaster from beginning to end. What an absolutely incredible story from beginning to end.

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It didn’t feel like it was all about Alicia.

Well-written, it’s by Fredrik Backman after all. But, it didn’t feel like it was “all about Alicia.”