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Cover for The Colonel's Wife

The Colonel's Wife

A Novel

Rosa Liksom, Lola Rogers (Translated by)


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A bold, dark-hued novel by a writer who “conjures beauty from the ugliest of things” (The Wall Street Journal)

In the final twilit moments of her life, an elderly woman looks back on her years in the thrall of fascism and Nazism. Both her authoritarian tendencies and her ecstatic engagement with the natural world are vividly and terrifyingly evoked in The Colonel’s Wife, an astonishing and brave novel that resonates painfully with our own strained political moment.

At once complex and hideous, sexually liberated and sympathetic to the darkest of political movements, the narrator describes her childhood as the daughter of a member of the right-wing Finnish Whites before World War II, and the way she became involved with and eventually married the Colonel, who was thirty years her senior. During the war, he came and went as they fraternized with the Nazi elite and retreated together into the deepest northern wilds. As both the marriage and the war turn increasingly dark and destructive, Rosa Liksom renders a complex and unsavory character in a prose style that is striking in its paradoxical beauty. Based on a true story, The Colonel’s Wife is both a brilliant portrayal of an individual psychology and a stark warning about the perils of nationalism.

Praise For The Colonel's Wife: A Novel

“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.”Wall Street Journal

“All the more thought-provoking and heart-rending in our current strained sociopolitical moment. . . . The Colonel’s Wife is equal parts horrifying and fascinating.”Salon

“A chilling yet necessary book.”Star Tribune (Minneapolis)

“Liksom's tale is a brilliantly drawn metaphor.”PopMatters

“Amazing, powerful, and remarkable.”Historical Novel Society

“Liksom’s novel memorably combines transportive prose and her narrator’s stark perspective.”Publishers Weekly

“An intimate investigation of authoritarianism.”Kirkus Reviews

“An astonishingly fearless, bold, and visceral exploration of the heart and life of a woman on the wrong side of history. . . . A tour de force.”—Stacey D’Erasmo

Graywolf Press, 9781644450086, 160pp.

Publication Date: November 5, 2019

About the Author

Rosa Liksom was born in a village of eight houses in Lapland, Finland, where her parents were reindeer breeders and farmers. She spent her youth traveling Europe, living as a squatter and in communes. She paints, makes films, and writes in Helsinki.