Den amerikanska flickan

Den amerikanska flickan The American Girl

In 1969, a young girl makes the trip from Coney Island to the swampy coastland off of Helsinki, Finland. There, her death by water will immediately become part of local teenage mythology, feeding the endless dreams of boys and girls, urging their role play of life and death.

Crime mystery and gothic saga; social study and chronicle of the late sixties and early seventies; deeply probing psychological search into the sexual awakening of young girls: Monika Fagerholm’s new novel is a rich tapestry of motifs, themes and characters. Using the same kind of exotic scenery as in her previous novel – that of the Finnish coastland – Fagerholm this time paints a darker picture, inspired by film noir and the gothic novel. Most of all, The American Girl is an unforgettable picture of the young, female psyche.

“Murder mystery, fugue, 1970s culture bath, mythic experiment, chronicle of the feminine mystique, Monika Fagerholm’s spiraling tale of two terribly modern girls raising heaven and hell in a seaside town near Helsinki is devilishly daring and breathtakingly original.”
–Jenny McPhee, author of A Man of No Moon


The August Prize Sweden 2005
The Aniara Prize Sweden 2005
The Gothenburg Post Award Sweden 2005
The Swedish Literature Society Award Sweden 2005
Shortlisted for the Nordic Council Literature Prize The Nordic Countries 2005
Shortlisted for the Runeberg Award Finland 2004
Close award list


  • “Required reading.”

    New York Post, US

  • “[The American Girl] is a hypnotic coming-of-age story that hinges on a dark but powerful bond between two Finnish girls growing up in the swamplands of outer Helsinki. /…/ Fagerholm’s esoteric prose and her omnipotent narrator’s eye bring to life a world of ambient longings, cryptic memories, and ethereal figures.”

    Publishers Weekly, US

  • “A masterful, thoughtful thriller about a girl without a dragon tattoo. /…/ Nothing is obvious in The American Girl, a deliciously complex novel by award-winning Scandinavian writer Monika Fagerholm. Set in the 1970s, the book is part literary mystery, part sexual coming-of-age story about two lonely local girls”

    O Magazine, US

  • The American Girl is, at its core, not a mystery but a coming-of-age story, a kind of YA novel for grownups, combining the breathless immediacy of young adult literature with the darker knowledge of adulthood you find in, say, the best of Joyce Carol Oates' novels. To be sure, this book is decidedly not a young adult novel. Far from it. It is a sprawling, slowly unraveling narrative that would probably be a slog for young readers. For adults, however, there's much to appreciate. /…./ Monika Fagerholm's is a unique voice that deserves a wider readership. /…/ American readers who prize the pleasure in a good novel told slowly, who chew thoughtfully on the language and the structure of stories told unconventionally, may find in The American Girl a rare treat—to be continued next year in the sequel.”

    The Writer's Center, US

  • “Fagerholm´s prose is dazzling and dizzying, and the story strange and beautiful. She plays with many of the conventions of post-modernism (a disdain for traditional sentence structure, plot progression and reliable narration), but these are transformed here into something magical, frightening, lyrical and wholly compelling. /…/ A dark tale of murder, love, sexuality and friendship, The American Girl is the first part of a two-book series. Danger, attraction, belonging and repulsion all have their place in this deeply psychological and highly recommended, challenging and unforgettable mythic story.””

    The Book Reporter, US

  • “Fagerholm’s finely woven, suggestive prose evokes times long past, with a love of language and a willful chronology that resembles human memory, which the story seemingly associatively joins together.”

    Die Tageszeitung, Germany

  • “The way Monika Fagerholm delves into her characters' abyss and mixes statements with truths results in what one has to call a grand literary crime novel.”

    Brigitte, Germany

  • “How, writing about such dark adventures, has Monika Fagerholm managed to write such an enchanting novel, bathing in the last sunlight of the Finnish summer? It is the miracle of a prose that is light, playful and drowsy, remarkably highlighted by the gracefulness of the translation, signed Anna Gibson. With this novel, marked by an exceptional suggestive power, Monika Fagerholm cements her position as a great novelist writing about childhood, and enters into that very closed society of the essential literary voices of our time.”

    Le Nouvel Observateur, France

  • “About re-inventing reality in order to avoid dealing with one of the worst possible crimes, and told in an original and sometimes amusing manner, The American Girl by Finnish Monika Fagerholm signifies the re-birth of Stock’s La Cosmopolite series by force of its singular prose and gripping ambience. /…/ The characters grow older, the family histories are cleared up, the social divides are sketched out, but Monika Fagerholm keeps the subtle montage of beginning intact: dream, reality, real conflicts, spoken, unspoken, settling of the score, rediscoveries, disappearances. She juxtaposes the different levels, comes, goes, and returns in time with a grandeur that is at once lyrical and musical. /…/ Monika Fagerholm excels in describing 'the enchantment of death at a sensitive age'…”

    Les livres Hebdo, France

  • “[Monika Fagerholm] is a genius Finnish author writing in Swedish whom you should by no means miss. /…/ Monika Fagerholm is somehow reminiscent of a gentle Nordic sorcerer, a big sister to Icelandic Björk. /…/…makes you think of The Virgin Suicides by Jeffery Eugenides, adapted to the screen by Sofia Coppola.”

    Elle, France

  • “Monika Fagerholm´s new novel is a marvelous, weighty and delightful experience… She has written the novel of all novels, a consummate and inspiring, multi-faceted and fascinating narrative, and you eagerly await being able to partake of the next five hundred pages.”

    Västra Nyland, Sweden

  • “As a novel, The American Girl functions with long-term effects. It's like a medicinal ampule that goes to work under your skin.”

    Hufvudstadsbladet, Finland

  • “Most contemporary Swedish-language prose pales in intensity and problematization in comparison with Monika Fagerholm´s new novel The American Girl. These might seem like big words, but not when you are placed before Orpheic dreams and Eurydicistic projects of the caliber that are found in this novel, and when you encounter young boys who try to enter female universes or 'an unscrupulous Lolita' and a 'bloody superannuated erotomaniac,' to take a few small examples from the first of the mammoth two-part novel of almost Robert Musilian size which is The American Girl.”

    Vasabladet, Finland

  • “…Monika Fagerholm's new novel The American Girl, which is so good that I feel like fainting, with such an original linguistic world that for the first time in a very long time I am enjoying a novel that is 490 pages long…. The ‘glitter scene' is if anything a shimmering accumulation of fantasies that attract interpretations with magnetic force.””

    Dagens Nyheter, Sweden

  • “Monika Fagerholm's beautifully unfolded tale of destiny has everything that you can wish for in a great Nordic novel.”

    Politiken, Denmark

  • “When life is depicted as strongly allied with pleasure and the abyss you can't help but read Monika Fagerholm's new novel straight through…. I find after having read the book that I immediately miss it. It is extremely seldom that such a feeling appears.”

    Göteborgs-Posten, Sweden

  • “It's a joy to be allowed to sit rooted to the spot with such a dizzyingly rich narrative. Fagerholm's style is as usual consummate, the atmosphere drawn with a few strokes exactly to a T. The nets and loops of the narrative are twine in and out of one another with precision, but without losing their inner mystery.”

    Kiiltomato, Finland

  • “Fagerholm's new novel The American Girl is also a multi-faceted and fascinating narrative. Entertaining and disturbingly contemporary — and it moves forward with a richness of thematic and linguistic invention that feels liberating for all contemporary Nordic prose.”

    Kristianstadsbladet, Sweden

  • “Her complex narrative style results in great artistic integrity, and her nomination for the Nordic Council's Literary Prize is exceedingly well deserved.”

    Sundsvalls Tidning, Sweden

  • “There are Finnish authors, Swedish authors, Finland-Swedish authors And then there is Monika Fagerholm. It´s as if she came from a country all her own. The American Girl is Monika Fagerholm´s best book so far; well-composed but insanely muddled, verbose and teeming. The characters are romantic and crazy, or else they are down to earth and then they are still crazy in the end…. Monika Fagerholm is one of the authors who will be most remembered from the 1990s and 2000s. She writes well in a way that stands out, she writes classics.”

    Smålandsposten, Sweden

  • “Finland's answer to Sweden's Kerstin Ekman is Monika Fagerholm. Both write tenderly and heartrendingly about the characters with which they people their novels. Both show us how cruelty and beauty pervade everyday life and how love and loneliness make people vulnerable.”

    Norrköpings Tidningar, Sweden

  • “The novel The American Girl is about betrayal, ruptured hopes, dreams, imaginary games, chatter, silence, music, architecture, and mother-longing. It gives us several versions of a possible course of events. It is a marvelous, threatening, shimmering, careening, fascinating narrative that completely takes the reader's breath away. It is funny — yes, that too. It's a language celebration. It is w-o-n-d-e-r-f-u-l.”

    Västerbottens-Kuriren, Sweden

  • “Monika Fagerholm has skillfully composed her new novel, which is mostly about young people on their way into the adult world. Her language is masterful.”

    Borås Tidning, Sweden

  • “The result is a narrative hypnotic as a pistol without the safety on, multi-faceted, bewitching, breathlessly exciting, not to mention magical. And best of all: the final words read “to be continued.””

    Helsingborgs Dagblad, Sweden

  • “Fagerholm´s world is dark fantasy and pure joy of storytelling. The language is rebelliously magical. A fairy tale that is allowed to take place and a reality that nonetheless cannot be contained, ever. It is such a disagreeable pleasure to truly lose your grip within these rose-colored bookcovers, to fall. For this is namely not a book to gobble up; this is a book that swallows you.”

    Arbetarbladet, Sweden

  • “Along with Joyce Carol Oates and Toni Morrison, [Fagerholm] belongs to a group of writers who have spent the last few decades chopping up dense, emotionally-rich stories and slamming down the lid of the pressure cooker. /…/ a radioactive fairytale…a strange, tilting madness that seemingly only Northern European authors can produce.”

    California Literary Review, US

  • The American Girl is, at its core, not a mystery but a coming-of-age story, a kind of YA novel for grownups, combining the breathless immediacy of young adult literature with the darker knowledge of adulthood you find in, say, the best of Joyce Carol Oates' novels. To be sure, this book is decidedly not a young adult novel. Far from it. It is a sprawling, slowly unraveling narrative… Monika Fagerholm's is a unique voice that deserves a wider readership.”

    First Person Plural, US

Photo: Thron Ullberg Monika Fagerholm
  • Literary
Reading material

Swedish edition

English edition

German edition

French edition

Rights sold

Albania, Morava

Bulgaria, Perseus

Croatia, Hena com

Finland, Teos (Finnish)

Finland, Söderströms (Swedish)

France, Stock

Germany, Pendo

Hungary, Európa

Lithuania, Gimtasis Zodis

Netherlands, De Geus

Norway, Pax

Russia, Corpus

Sweden, Albert Bonniers

US, Other Press (World English)

Film rights sold

Finland, Paula Korva

Sweden, Kärnfilm

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