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Skärmavbild 2024-04-02 kl. 15.19.49

In the ten short stories that comprise Still Life, a police officer fresh out of the academy becomes acutely aware of the deadly consequences of prejudice and how biases color our actions, leading us to justify faulty choices. A teenager has lost her voice and is forced to resort to violence to get heard, even against those whom she loves, and a young girl finds herself lying to the police, because if she reveals the raw truth of what happened that night she would be entangled in the claws of the people who are supposed to love her the most, but who ultimately are the ones she needs protection from.

We also witness a university student engage in an unlawful act on a night of youthful revelry, which soon has fatal consequences plunging those involved into an abyss of remorse, a woman desperate to get her mother to listen when words are insufficient, showing us the harsh reality of children becoming their neglective parents’ caregivers. In Still Life we also see a mother driven to commit the very same crime her son is being prosecuted for, in order to protect him, and another mother whose only way of shielding her son from himself is by restricting his freedom – because there isn’t anything a mother wouldn’t do to keep her child safe.

We meet a young man who has manipulated the system for personal gain, yet beneath his actions lies a profound yearning for his father’s love and approval, a lonely woman willing to risk losing everything to help her friend, who she trusts blindly, to keep her son out of trouble, and a man extending a warm hand in defiance of state restrictions, keeping a refugee woman safe from the harsh Swedish winter and deportation.

With her unique, and prominent voice in Swedish literature, Malin Persson Giolito sheds light on the lives of people at all levels of the society through her ten compelling and emotionally charged stories. Here, she skillfully shifts our focus to what emotions transpire when boundaries are crossed and highlights how easily it might happen, especially in the pursuit of self-preservation or in order to protect our loved ones.

In her fierce – and at times political – prose, Giolito delivers a poignant portrayal of societal failure, vividly illustrating that actions driven by good intentions may still be considered criminal in the eyes of the law, underscoring that the legal system doesn’t always shield those who need protection the most. Still Life transcends beyond being a mere collection of intricately woven crime stories: it is at once heart-wrenching and thought-provoking, showing us that sometimes fiction is needed to understand the complexities of the reality we live in.


“Malin Persson Giolito’s Still Life is a menu of hors d’oevres: short stories and tableaus about several crimes committed in Sweden today. The explicit ambition is realistic. [The subheading] invites empathy for the small human, combined with a deep knowledge of the legal procedures in our society. […] These stories are way above this genre’s average, both linguistically and psychologically.”
Dagens Nyheter (SE)

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