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In The Colonel’s Wife, a story takes shape through an elderly woman’s monolog on her death bed. She came of age in a time of hatred and revenge. Finland was a nation gearing up for war, wedged between two grisly neighbors: the Third Reich and the Soviet Union. Ever since she was very young, she learned and understood what the Nazis were prepared to do – and what they were capable of. The fact that she had Sami heritage was not something that she thought twice about when she became enamored with the discipline of fascism. And then she married the infamous Colonel, a brutal ally with the Germans who sent Sami people to their deaths.

The Colonel’s Wife is the story of a young woman whose fate was first signed by her Finnish nationalist father and then sealed by her Nazi husband. About a young woman passionately in love with a sadistic and misogynistic older man, and the destructive marriage that followed. But it is also a story of a nation in crises. Our narrator describes a time in history when a people turned on each other and a country rife with hate, trauma, and fresh wounds.

Rosa Liksom’s expressive, unsentimental and at times absurd prose shapes a story about both the emergence of Fascism in Finland in the 1930’s and one woman’s search for answers to the age-old questions of how to live and how to love. The question at the core of this short punch of a novel, however, is firmly contemporary: why are people once again drawn to repressive authoritarian ideologies?

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337544802_1009259283385787_1680708562612053817_n Albania, Dituria
Pani-plukovnikova-CZE Czech Republic, Kniha Zlin
Oberstinden-DAN GRIF Denmark, GRIF
cover the colonel's wife Estonia, Koolibri
Rosa-Liksom-Everstinna Finland, Like
G02125 France, Gallimard
Överstinnan tyskt omslag Germany, Penguin Verlag
Az-Ezredesne-HUN Hungary, Szephalom
Ofurstynjan-FRAMAN Iceland, Skrudda
20200424193317_cover_mogliedelcolonnello.jpg.600x1800_q85_upscale Italy, Iperborea
Pułkownikowa_2023 Poland, Wydawnictwo Marpress
9788413620435-la-mujer-del-coronel Spain, Alianza
9789146235057 Sweden, Wahlström & Widstrand
Colonels-Wife-USA, Graywolf Press US, Graywolf Press


“Ms. Liksom is fearlessly good at portraying wicked men in all their moods and disguises. Her fantastic novel Compartment No. 6 features a similar, and similarly compelling, figure. […] the novel is strongest when it’s most direct about why people engage in evil: Because they enjoy it.”
The Wall Street Journal (US)

“An intimate investigation of authoritarianism.”
Kirkus Reviews (US)

“Liksom’s brief, haunting novel finds an elderly Finnish woman in her final days, reflecting on a lifetime as both a victim and perpetrator of cruelty… her descriptions of the torture she witnesses by the Nazis, and of that she endures by her husband, are made more chilling by their lack of sentimentality.”
Publishers Weekly (US)

“The Colonel’s Wife is a novel that is all the more thought-provoking and heart-rending in our current strained sociopolitical moment.”
Salon (US)

“The novel moves with a sprightly pace, and the rough Northern landscape is beautifully depicted. […] Liksom’s tale is a brilliantly drawn metaphor.”
PopMatters (US)

“A bold and violent history based on true events. […] it’s ballsy of Rosa to take on such a heavy story, filled to the brim with cruelty, violence amongst peers and fellow country men. She does so with wicked skills and humor, but she still manages to convey the gravity. Or more like the madness. There is no end to the cruelty. The language is edgy and brutal, and like always with Rosa, raw and filled with humor.”
Dagens Nyheter (SE)

“A frightening but important and compact novel about love and humiliation, exploitation, violence and powerlessness.”
Svenska Dagbladet (SE)

“Her boisterous and often ruthless characters are most often both themselves – real people – and symbols for something else, a spirit of the age, a country, a societal system. […] At the same time you can’t avoid being pulled in to Liksom’s evil fairytale world, thanks to her charming and quirky language that is brilliantly translated by Janina Orlov.”
Expressen (SE)

“The Colonel’s Wife points straight at our own contemporary moment. […] Rosa Liksom lets her Colonel’s wife tell her life story in a straight forward and direct way, filled with indulgences of different types: skinny-dipping in a forest mere, and making love in sphagnum moss; here speaks a human who has lived close to nature and feels just as much at home there as in her own body.”

“You cannot talk about Rosa Liksom’s books without mentioning the language. The reason not only being the direct and colorful prose, which is one of the leading qualities, but also what the language entails – an attitude toward life, a strategy for survival in an otherwise cruel and brutal reality. […] Like the raft that carries the main character across the dark water, Rosa Liksom’s perspicacious way of writing carries the reader over the abyss of mankind.”
Borås Tidning (SE)

“The history of Finland through the eyes of an ex-nazi, now elderly woman’s eyes. Painful, thought provoking and brutal in its language.”

“No one has ever told the 1900’s in Finland the way Rosa Liksom does it. Disrespectful, impudently and with an absurdly macabre humor.”
Länstidningen Östersund (SE)

“The idea for the book was birthed when she considered the fact that nazis and alt-right activists once again march the streets all over the world. What might still be alluring in those hostile ideologies? Rosa Liksom is known for her drastic humor and language, and that shines through in this novel as well, alongside the depictions of wrongdoings. But there is also a protruding poetic touch, especially apparent in the loving depictions of the nature in the Finnish Laplands.”
Internationalen (SE)

“What is this? A love story? An absurdism, a picaresque with such a foul mouth that anyone who is somewhat of a prude should chose other means of entertainment rather than this short novel of 175 pages. But still – so full of wordings that draws blood from the reader in-between caressing them as tender as only honeymooners can! The sun, the heat, the mosquitos, the birds return lawfully to the deserted land despite the ever present violence, and historically important people and events fall into the novel as easy as sprinkles on a cake.
The text does not seek the truth about time and space, but perhaps a possible truth about the vulnerability of the individual in what we call life.”
Tranås-Posten (SE)

“Through the old colonel’s wife’s last monologue or inner stream-of-conscience, Rosa Liksom portrays the history of war, the allies of Germany, the fear of the communists, the antisemitism, the fawners, the adjustments after the war. ‘That’s how I’ve always said it’, says the colonel’s wife in the end. ‘The joy of the past life is that it never comes back again.’ [Liksom] has written this novel in meänkieli, and with a prose as sweaty and dirty as war itself. It is horrifying from time to time, but you have no choice but to stick it through and read. And sometimes cool down in the marches of the wasteland.”
Sveriges Radio P1 (SE)

The Colonel’s Wife is a story about incomprehensible love and submission. About fascistic instincts that reach full bloom, and about a frightening ability for adaption, both politically and privately. It is also a glimpse into a delight in wilderness, which transforms the moors and tundra of northern Finland into a realm of sensual adventure. Spun into a tight story about Finland’s catch 22 between Bolsheviks and Nazis in the first half of the 20th century, the result is a formidable literary feat. […] Conveyed in Rosa Liksom’s at once atmospheric and razor-sharp language, it is an alarmingly good read.”
Weekendavisen (DK)

“The novel centers its marital drama in an exploration of Finland’s violent early 20th century history. These two narrative devices work excellently, and create an outstanding, short and concentrated novel.”
Politiken (DK)

“A Five-star novel. […] Stories of relationship hell are nothing new, but The Colonel’s Wife isn’t just about marriage. It’s an attempt to understand the historic period from whence the colonel’s wife’s blind love, and the colonel’s sick love, draws its strength and destructiveness. In The Colonel’s Wife, Liksom examines the rise of fascism in Finland and Europe in the early 20th century, the coming of war, and the Finnish Whites’ fierce belief in Nazi Germany and its alliance with Finland, at an individual level.”
Aamulehti (FI)

“As a contrast to the horrors, Liksom’s language blooms more beautiful than ever.”
Helsingin Sanomat (FI)

“Liksom pulls in the reader with her unique style. There is no other like her. She answers well to her own statement, that literature is not only supposed to entertain but to deal with the basic questions of humanity.”
Uusi Suomi (FI)

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