Skip to content

Malin Persson Giolito (1969) was born in Stockholm and grew up in Djursholm. She has worked as a lawyer for the biggest law firm in the Nordic region and as an official for the European Commission in Brussels, Belgium.

Persson Giolito has published four bestselling suspense novels, including three featuring her beloved heroine Sophia Weber. Her break-out stand-alone novel Quicksand was published by Wahlström & Widstrand in June 2016 and has become one of the most bestselling contemporary suspense novels of all time in Sweden. It has also been published in 32 countries and was awarded the Best Crime Novel of the Year Award 2016, Sweden’s official suspense literature award, which is given by the Swedish Crime Writers’ Academy.

In August 2017, Quicksand was also awarded the prestigious Glass Key Award and thus named Best Nordic Crime Novel. Quicksand has been adapted into a critically-acclaimed Netflix Original Series that took home several awards, including Best Drama Series, at Kristallen, Sweden’s official television award ceremony.

In 2018, Malin Persson Giolito awarded the Petrona Award for Best Nordic Crime Novel and Prix Le Point du Polar Européen for Best European crime novel.

Her long-awaited next novel will be published in the spring of 2022.

Photo of Malin Persson Giolito by Viktor Fremling

Reviews

“Let me say this from the start: this is an extraordinarily good book, and it’s not just a question of plot and not even about what Malin Persson Giolito wants to say. It’s simply incredibly skillfully told, every sentence filled with fury and a written colloquial language so razor-sharp, forceful, and well put that few authors come close to it. This is what a good book should be – everything is secondary to the pure pleasure of reading it.”
Lotta Olsson, Dagens Nyheter (SE)

“A remarkable new novel from Sweden […] Giolito, who practiced law before she turned to fiction, writes with exceptional skill. […] Giolito keeps us guessing a long time and the outcome, when it arrives, is just as it should be.”
The Washington Post (US)

Quicksand is a novel that beings like a parlor game gone awry: On its first page, a little cross section of contemporary Swedish society – a right-on homeroom reacher, a Ugandan foster child, a cashmere-clad blonde, a son of Middle Eastern immigrants – lies on the floor, splattered with blood, as if darkly satirizing the country’s self-image of civilized multiculturalism. […] What we’re reading here is not so much Maria’s unfiltered thoughts as her speech to an imaginary audience: Mostly we listen in as she tries to make sense of what happened, but she occasionally addresses us directly, speculating as to what assumptions we might make about her and what comfy delusions we may be harboring about ourselves. The voice is uneven, unpredictable in a way that feels characteristic of a teenager. […] the novel is structured as a courtroom procedural, yet ot clearly has ambitions beyond that, addressing Sweden’s underlying economic and racial tensions.”
The New York Times Book Review (US)

“Compelling and brutally candid, especially about modern adolescence, this is not a comfortable book, but the story is so superbly told that it lingers in the mind long after the jury’s verdict.”
The Daily Mail (UK)

“The book provides a razor-sharp view of modern Sweden and its criminal justice system.”
NPR (US)

“The reader gets sucked into the story from the very first page… The protagonist in Quicksand makes observations about her surroundings: they are sharp, relentless, and at times truly witty – brilliantly portrayed by the author. […] Much is at stake for the protagonist, Maja, where she stands as the accused. Malin Persson Giolito handels this excellently. She writes in an unvarnished, ‘no-nonsense’ and direct style, where everything is played out through the eyes and mind of Maja. Never for a moment does it fall flat, but it is rather to the point and elegant. And well-balanced, because it never tips over in cynicism. […] Quicksand was named Best Crime Novel of the Year by the Swedish Crime Writers’ Academy in 2016. Incredibly well-deserved.”
BOK 365 (NO)

“After the first page, I was hooked. I kept reading as if I were hypnotized. This is an extraordinary novel, one that rises above most of what has been published in the suspense genre. […] A courtroom drama about love and class, life and death. And an unforgettable portrayal of a young girl.”
Ingalill Mossander, Aftonbladet (SE)

“Sensitive, moving and absorbing.”
The Times (UK)

“A remarkably constructed thriller. […] With formidable skill, Malin Persson Giolito alternates her story between the trial and flashbacks of a love that has shattered.”
Le Temps (SWI)

“Malin Persson Giolito’s writing is beautiful. […] A terrific novel that ought to lead young people (and others) to reflect upon tolerance.”
La Libre (BE)

“Giolito’s astonishing English-language debut is a dark exploration of the crumbling European social order and the psyche of rich Swedish teens. […] In crafting a first-person narrative told by a school shooter, many authors would go too far, creating and overly likable character; Giolito masterfully walks this fine line, developing a protagonist whom readers will remain intrigued by and ambivalent about, but who they won’t necessarily like. Giolito’s past as a lawyer and as a European Union official poke through the pages as she exposes the curing racism that refugees in Europe endure, even in supposed left-wing-idyll Sweden. Praise must also go to translator Willson-Broyles, as the incisive language that’s on display here surely involves translation precision that’s second to none.”
Booklist, Starred Review (US)

Quicksand is a novel focused on a school shooting, but in no way feels hackneyed or dependent on its timeliness. In fact, it’s not really about a school shooting at all. It’s about larger abstractions, like loyalty an codependence, love and guilt, the incredibly complicated business of being a teenager, criminal justice systems (Sweden’s in particular, and as a concept), the role of the media and what a parent’s job entails. Expert dialogue and irresistible momentum make an all-too-realistic story come breathing off the page. It’s a novel that demands compassion, and an appreciation for the fine gradations of situations that tend to be treated as black and white. Part courtroom thriller, part introspection, Quicksand is pulled tight throughout by the suspense, not only of Maja’s verdict, but of the elusive ‘truth’ of what really happened in the classroom that day.”
Shelf Awareness (US)

“Sharp social commentary through the tragic story of a young woman’s trial for mass murder. Swedish novelist Giolito begins her English-language debut with a powerful view of a crime scene. To the narrator, 18-year-old Maja, her fellow classmates are still in the present tense, the horror not yet real. […] The literary anticipation here is in the telling of the tale, the facts that turn the story to something else, and yes, the verdict. The rhythm, tone, and language are just right, due in great part to the fine translation by Willson-Broyles. Giolito gives us the unsettling monologue of a teenage girl as she works her way through her role in murder. It is a splendid work of fiction.”
Kirkus (US)

“The storytelling flies with a furious pace […] Malin Persson Giolito writes as though this story is the most important of all, and she succeeds in making it feel that way.”
Sydsvenskan (SE)

“[S]he has, in short time, stepped forward as one of the country’s most interesting contemporary writers. […] The cover of Quicksand calls it a procedural thriller. Sure, this is at times a breathlessly suspenseful novel. But there is still a risk in categorizing the book in the thriller genre – that may risk reducing the gravity with which it is written. Few recent novels have gripped me as forcefully as the final pages of Malin Persson Giolito’s Quicksand.”
Stig Larsson, Expressen (SE)

“It’s difficult to resist Malin Persson Giolito’s courtroom thriller Quicksand. […] It is a frightening portrayal of our time, where the distance between the adult and teenage world is a broad gulf. It is almost impossible for the two worlds to approach one another, just as it is for those who have versus those who have not. Because class divides are central in Persson Giolito’s portrayal of how this school shooting was made possible in a world where prejudice has not one, but many, faces.”
Norrbottens-Kuriren (SE)

“Truth be told, Malin Persson Giolito’s fourth novel, Quicksand, is an indictment of the zeitgeist. Victor Hugo called quicksand ’a pit of mire in a cavern of night’ in Les Misérables. Appearing safe, a bog pulls you down – deeper if you struggle, as the protagonist does figuratively in this English-language debut. […] Quicksand is a whydunit, not a whodunnit. What exactly did Maja do – or not do? Seeking that answer, Persson Giolito employs the young woman in broader queries. What is ’truth’ Or ’justice’? How unequal can a society become while remaining stable? […] Quicksand will pull you in, to wonder at the end if it’s over.”
World Literature Today (US)

“President Donald Trump once referenced a great tragedy that occurred in Sweden. Though he recently admitted the mistake, he could have been referring to the Djursholm Massacre. […] The Djursholm Massacre never actually made it onto the bottom scroll of Fox News or onto a Twitter feed, because it never happened. It’s the subject of Malin Persson Giolito’s first English language novel, Quicksand, and the book is riveting. It was selected as the Best Swedish Crime Novel of 2016, but that category seems too restrictive and should be broadened to Best Crime Novel of 2016. […] These underpinnings within the novel touch upon some very existential dilemmas that we all must face in life. Maja, with hours and hours alone in her cell, reflect and ponders her role in the tragedy as well as her role in the world. This would be heady stuff for a person well-traveled and decades into a lifetime; for a teenage girl just beginning life’s journey with every opportunity seemingly before her, the situation is nearly crippling. Like slowly drowning in quicksand. Giolito has written a revelatory novel that’s worth reading and referencing as a fine work of fiction.”
The Free Lance-Star (US)

“Malin Persson Giolito has written a perceptive portrayal of a young woman and a blistering indictment of a society that is coming apart. A work of great literary sensibility, Quicksand touches on class, money, migration, and the games one plays with oneself when parents are no longer attuned to the struggles of their children.”
Bookreporter (US)

“It has been a very long time since I read such a beautiful portrayal of what it’s like to be young and struggling with the demands of both society, school, your parents and yourself. […] This is – without compare – the best book I’ve read so far this year.”
Dast Magazine (SE)

“This is, without exaggeration, one of the best Swedish books I have ever read. Malin Persson Giolito takes me into a courtroom drama I’ll probably never forget.”
Skaraborgs Allehanda (SE)

“It’s been a long time since I read such a well-structured and well-informed story.”
Skånska Dagbladet (SE)

“Author of the 2017 prizewinning Quicksand, Giolito has come up with another knockout legal thriller. Here Sweden looks less like a socialist paradise and more like a society as screwed up as anyplace else. Bumbling cops and prosecutors convict a medical researcher for the grisly murder of a 15-year-old girl he had seduced. In the public’s opinion, Stig Ahlin is ‘Professor Death.’ So when lawyer Sophia Weber looks at the paltry evidence and agrees — 13 years after the crime was committed — to help the imprisoned professor petition for a new trial, the reaction, online and among friends, is ferociously negative. Weber is a wonderfully textured creation, a poignant mix of determined braininess and nagging doubts. Giolito’s finale is a smidgen more ambiguous than some readers will want, but maybe this means Sophia Weber will be back again — a very good thing.”
The Washington Post (US)

“Persson Giolito maximises suspense by toggling between the original investigation and Sophia’s ever more ambivalent follow-up.”
BBC (UK)

”With a messy personal life and a sharp legal mind, Weber is the moral center of Malin Persson Giolito’s Swedish thriller Beyond All Reasonable Doubt. The novel tracks a mission to right a wrong and plunges into the egos, deceptions, lies, vendettas, presumptions and questionable police work that pervade a legal system and society’s need for retribution. […] Ahlin’s case is a criminal and moral puzzle about guilt and shades of innocence. A man is many things, but if he is arrested for a heinous act, the world reduces him to caricature. He faces swift assumptions and fabulist headlines, and even the legal system designed to protect his rights succumbs to its own imperfections and inconsistencies. Agendas flash here and there like a circus tilted from is bearings.”
Los Angeles Times (US)

“She’s tougher than she first appears, as is Sophia Weber, the lawyer at the center of Beyond All Reasonable Doubt, a somewhat arid, if absorbing, legal thriller from the Swedish writer Malin Persson Giolito that’s translated by Rachel Willson-Broyles. It pivots on the question: If a bad person is accused of a crime he did not commit, is justice for the accused the same thing as justice for society? […] It is both a strength and a frustration of Beyond All Reasonable Doubt that the author does not feel the imperative to explain too much or to tie her ending up in a neat bow. Instead, while by the end of the book the central question has been answered, even more have been posed — and not in the way that sets up a sequel (though that could happen), but in the way that imitates life, in all its messiness and obfuscation. […] you want to meet Sophia Weber again.”
The New York Times (US)

“In this searing legal thriller from Giolito, law professor Hans Segerstad persuades Stockholm defense attorney Sophia Weber, a former student, to try to prove the innocence of Stig Ahlin […] This meticulously crafted novel proves Segerstad’s bitterly ironic claim made at the time he asks Sophia to take on the case: ‘How could Stig Ahlin be innocent? Our police always tell the truth, our prosecutors are never careless, and the opinions of our judges never fail. Everything is perfect in our country.’ Fans of Nordic noir won’t want to miss this one.”
Publishers Weekly, Starred Review (US)

“A lawyer scrutinizes the investigation and trial that imprisoned a scientist for murdering a teen in this intriguing legal thriller. […] The author shows unusual restraint in keeping violence offstage while keeping the reader guessing right up to the two very different twists that make for a gut-punching finale. […] An ongoing series would be welcome given the author’s legal savvy, well-drawn characters, and insightful look at the subtle variations of guilt. No courtroom fireworks but smart, well-written legal and procedural drama.”
Kirkus Reviews, Starred Review (US)

Books

Adaptation

Netflix trailer still

Quicksand by Malin Persson Giolito

The bestselling novel Quicksand by Malin Persson Giolito is the first ever Swedish Netflix Original Series.

Read More

Press Images

vijo_1603_5270_WEBB Photo by Viktor Fremling
vijo_1603_5355_WEBB Photo by Viktor Fremling
vijo_1603_5772_WEBB Photo by Viktor Fremling
vijo_1603_5893_A_WEBB Photo by Viktor Fremling

Awards

2018 – Best European crime novel, Prix Le Point du Polar Européen for Quicksand
2018 – The Petrona Award for Best Scandinavian Crime Novel for Quicksand
2019 – Prix des lecteurs 2019 du Livre de Poche for After She’s Gone
2017 – Shortlisted for the Book of the Year Award for Quicksand
2017 – The Glass Key Award for Best Nordic Crime Novel for Quicksand
2016 – Best Swedish Crime Novel of the Year for Quicksand

Ahlander Agency is a leading literary agency that represents Scandinavian writers at home and in the world.

Contact Us
Skip to navigation