The Girlfriend

Karin never asks John about his work, or his money. His disappearances have become routine, but Karin can’t get used to them. John is a gangster and Karin can’t quite come to terms with having become a gangster’s trophy girlfriend. But though many men have told Karin they would do anything for her, John was the first to really show it. He gave her a glamorous lifestyle, status, and love. And he bought her a house. Karin is mesmerized by the way the light falls on her built-in closets, the custom made kitchen and the designer furniture. On the other side of the bulletproof windows, the glittering water in the bay stretches far into the distance.

Having alienated her real family by choosing John, the girlfriends of his mobster cohorts have replaced them. But through her designer sunglasses, Karin secretly looks down on her newfound family and their craze for the lifestyle they’ve all chosen.

Over the course of a few, tense days while John and his men are gone on a dangerous mission, the women gather to face their dread together. They shut out the world, afraid of what news the headlines may bring. Karin registers every sound in the eerie house, tormented by not knowing when – or if – John will come back. Karin would never leave him. Would she? And she would certainly never bring a child into this dangerous world. Or would she?

The Girlfriend is a naked portrait of a woman whose desire for financial and emotional security has made her a hostage of a love and a life that she can’t stop questioning. Told in a clean and striking prose, The Girlfriend is at once a tensely suspenseful look into the life of a mobster’s girlfriend and an unnervingly universal take on what it means to doubt the life you find yourself living.

The Girlfriend was awarded Tidningen VI:s Literary Prize in 2009, and was nominated for Swedish Radio’s Literary Award the same year. In 2015, The Girlfriend is being dramatized for the stage.

“A forceful and urgent book about a woman held hostage in her own life.”
Gomorron Sverige, SVT (SE)

“Ramqvist herself takes a step back, lets Karin stand there naked with her desire for a love and affirmation beyond the bounds of morality, in the middle of the filfth and ugliness. It’s bravely done, and her worrying book deserves what the mythical gangster bosses never stop demanding: Respect.”
Sydsvenskan (SE)

“As a portrayal of our time, it’s both credible and problematic, since it so elegantly and anxiously floats around on the surface.”
Göteborgs-Posten (SE)

“This is a book that raises the question of the untold side of the mafia-story, and thereby has the potential to shatter the romance surrounding the genre. […] Ramqvist portrays repetitive, everyday events in a way that gives them a strangely suggestive power.”
Aftonbladet (SE)

“I read The Girlfriend from cover to cover in one sitting, and put it down with a feeling of emptiness.”
Dagens Nyheter (SE)

“In a chillingly realistic style, Karolina Ramqvist portrays both a feminist dilemma and a gangster wife’s everyday life. I know from experience that her account is dead on.”
Jens Lapidus, bestselling author of Easy Money (Snabba cash)

Karolina Ramqvist is one of the most influential writers and feminists of her generation in Sweden. She had her breakthrough in 2009 with the critically acclaimed book The Girlfriend and in 2015 she was awarded the prestigious P.O. Enquist Literary Prize for her latest novel The White City.

Learn more about Karolina Ramqvist