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The year is 1944 and the girl has seen her brothers perish in the Lapland War, the same war that her father has now set out for. She must flee on foot together with other youngsters from neighboring farms and join the great migration over the river to Sweden. They abandon their farms, their villages, their country. In their care are the livestock which must be brought along, cows with names and personalities as vivid as family members.

Through the unnamed girl’s eyes we see refugee camps, hunger, and the chaos of war. As she wanders through forests and fields, speaking with the cows and the birds and the flowers who are her trusted companions, for the natural world is as close to her as the people she mourns, the girl fights relentlessly to survive and to find her mother who has disappeared on the road among the steady stream of refugees.

The River is at once a timeless and timely novel about the inherent magic of human resilience. How dreams, longing, and love continue to burn among the flames of war. With her characteristic precise and brutal prose, Rosa Liksom has written a novel about loss – but also about life. Among the terror of war there is death and misery, but there is also a young girl coming into adulthood, experiencing her first sexual encounter, and discovering the world.

Written in the local dialect of Meänkieli Finnish about a rarely depicted historical event, The River at once became a milestone work of fiction upon its publication.

Extra Materials

CZ cover the river Czech Republic, Pistorius & Olsanská
Rosa-Liksom_Elven_salgsforside_300dpi-268x400 Denmark, Alpha
cover the river Estonia, Koolibri
978-951-1-39955-1 Finland, Like
20230223172447_Fiume_cover_alta.jpg.600x1800_q85_upscale Italy, Iperborea
9789146239642 Sweden, Wahlström & Widstrand


“The River fascinates. The story is beautiful and touching, even fun in some places.”
Helsingin sanomat (FI)

The River is the most rigorous realism in its style, reflecting a strong spark of hope.”
Satakunnan (FI)

“Liksom has written a captivating novel about people caught in the grip of war.”
Keskisuomalainen (FI)

“A northern masterpiece.”
Karjalainen (FI)

“Rosa Liksom has written one of her best novels to date.”
Lapin Kansa (FI)

“One of the most impressive parts of Liksom’s magnificent work is how it describes  animals and the relationship between them and humans.”
Turun Sanomat (FI)

The River is a great novel about humanity and especially the smallness of man.”
Me Nasiet (FI)

“Rosa Liksom’s new novel is incandescent with hope and life.”
Dagens Nyheter (SE)

“Sublimely written by Rosa Liksom about a girl, a herd of livestock, and The Lapland War. The River is painfully beautiful story about fleeing for your life.”
Västerviks Tidning (SE)

“While reading The River, you are asked the question: what is left when everything has been lost, when every single thing you hold dear has been taken from you? It’s impossible to answer, and at times the novel feels like slowly descending into the marsh, without having a single cloudberry to nibble on.”
Svenska Dagbladet (SE)

The River is a powerful and anguished story that also manages to be filled with hope whilst depicting migration and survival. Subjects that unfortunately are still very present in our own time.”
Barometern (SE)

The River is a documentary novel about the Lapland War. The novel transforms the filth and pain into potent poetry”
Sydsvenskan (SE)

“The depictions of nature are outstanding. You can feel the odor, the cold, the horror and the pain. The communion between humans and animals is told in the most beautiful way. […] Rosa Liksom has written a stunningly beautiful novel and I hope many people will read it and be just as moved as I was.”
Dast Magazine (SE)

“Rosa Liksom is one of the nordic authors that I always read with great joy.”
Vi Läser, Yukiko Duke (SE)

“With intimate knowledge, Rosa Liksom portrays the void that the final year of the [second] world war left in northern Finland. It is heartbreaking.”
Västerbottens-Kuriren (SE)

The River is a novel that allows us to understand our own time, and with whose help we may be able to approach the innermost essence of life. It is, to say the least, magnificent.”
Upsala Nya Tidning (SE)

“Necessary reading. … Rosa Liksom has always written brutal, confident and utterly unsentimental prose, but here, when depicting people and animals during a chaotic escape, there is also room for both love and compassion.”
Kulturnytt (SE)

“Read The Colonel’s Wife and The River together, it illustrates how wondrously strong the human essence is – the longing, the dreams and the anxiety – even in a war zone.”
Aftonbladet (SE)

The River is a powerful and painful – but also reassuring – story, about escape and survival. Topics that unfortunately posses a continued timeliness even today. In addition, Liksom sheds new light on important historical events that otherwise risk sliding into the darkness of oblivion.”
Norra Skåne (SE)

“The Finnish writer Rosa Liksom has an impeccable ability to merge sacred and profane, nature and culture, in her books.… Rosa Liksom has written a novel of equal significance to Swedish and Finnish historiography.”
Göteborgs Posten (SE)

“Liksom uses fiction to explore new life situations in a way that they become deeply embedded in your body. The result is a fierce and complex tale of futility.”
Jyllands-Posten (DK)

The River is an incredibly thrilling story of someone on refuge, seen from a child’s point of view. The language is exuberantly poetic and intimate, the atrocities are described in a straight forward way and without sugarcoating. […] Finally, one of the most magical things about the book is that you get close to the very human mind of the cow, and I now understand how a cow can bring warmth and love to the abandoned.”
Litteratursiden (DK)

“A Finnish girl escapes from the Nazis in Rosa Liksom’s moving and painfully topical novel The River. […] Liksom writes in a raw, emotional and physical prose, without sentimentality.”
Kristeligt Dagblad (DK)

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