Djävulsgreppet The Devil’s Grip

“At what time does everything derail? A few weeks later, she will try to map the course of events, try to understand at what moment the compass loses its northern position.”

A woman arrives in Florence where everything seems strange and overwhelming to her. The tile roofs, the church towers, all the loving couples. The man she has met. She thinks that she herself comes from a very barren area, has a lot to learn, and that he may be the one who thaws the solid-frozen soil within her. This is the story of the two, of their bodies and minds. About her grip on him, and his increasingly tight grip on her. The devil’s grip.


Shortlisted for Dagens Nyheter's Culture Award (Literary Category) Sweden 2023
Shortlisted for The August Prize (Best fiction of the year) Sweden 2022
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  • “In this realistic literary novel mixed with poetry, the fight between the two protagonists becomes a kind of tango jalousie and tango noir. Images of demons and other more mythical metaphors both lift us out of the darkness of realism and reinforce it. /…/ Throughout the story humor and irony disarms the reader, even in its hardest and most horrendous times. With sharp psychological insight /…/ the depiction of suppression sends a clear message.”

    Adresseavisen, Norway

  • “Nobody is left untouched. /…/ Rather, [Lina Wolff] finds herself in an ancient tradition: the long struggle of the sexes in a patriarchal order, the battle between the flesh and the intellect, the conflicts between the passions and the law, the longing for grace. /…/ There is a lustful confrontational feature in her writing which is pursued in The Devil’s Grip. She makes a liberating noise in the otherwise fine-tuned modesty of the library.”

    Expressen, Sweden

  • “It is gruesome reading throughout the novel and the portrayal balances masterfully between literary and report./…/ The Devil’s Grip is a persuasive text that will surely stir up debate. Not least because it so consistently shows the misogyny that is, in our modern times, taking place on the internet and beyond.

    Aftonbladet, Sweden

  • “The allure into the novel’s demonic universe captures you right from the start. It does not matter how many depictions of dark passion you have read, or how disinterested you are in the destructive power play of heterosexuality; Lina Wolff’s prose has an appeal that tears the reader away from objections of that kind. It is prose that you recognize immediately, with a tone that is Wolff’s very own. /…/ That is, it is not only Lina Wolff’s unmistakable prose that makes her novels so enchanting. Equally important is the stubbornness with which she pushes the boundaries in her works; when you think a turn of events can’t get any more bizarre, she unleashes something even more monstrous, as if the text sprung straight out of the subconscious. “The Devil’s“ is perhaps an exaggeration, but Lina Wolff truly has the reader in a firm grip.”

    Vi, Sweden

  • “It is with anticipated reluctance I open the book. Because when you start reading a new novel by Lina Wolff, it is like opening a door that can lead you anywhere. You can imagine that it will be horrible, breathtaking, and violent. But also, that it will be wayward and written in an exact and skillful way, and provide intensely clear images, smells and sounds of Southern Europe. It applies this time too.”

    Sveriges Radio, Sweden

  • Ever since the August prize-winning novel The Polyglot Lovers, Lina Wolff has been one of favorite authors. She is funny, smart and writes as violently compelling as complex, generally about love and loneliness, all the while with a cynically sharp eye on our time. /…/ The prose is beautiful in it’s simplicity, and just as captivating as the gaze is pessimistic. /…/ I like the merciless and the tender, realistic nature of The Devil’s Grip. Rarely does Wolff need more than a sentence or two to make the world feel real, true, vibrant. It is life, it is the true art of writing.

    Sydsvenskan, Sweden

  • “Rarely does Wolff need more than a sentence or two to make the universe feel real, true, vibrant. It’s life, it’s prose art.”

    Helsingborgs Dagblad, Sweden

  • “Just as in her previous novels, Lina Wolff kicks her characters out of the predictable life pattern. /…/ [H]ere the unpredictable story is what gives the right dimensions to the story of the total vulnerability that comes from loving the one who wants to destroy you. /…/ It is gasping, disgusting and impossible to stop reading, and it stays with you, long after you have finished the last page.”

    Dagens ETC, Sweden

  • The Devil’s Grip is a shocking, insightful portrayal of the outback of the human consciousness.


    BTJ, Sweden

  • “[Lina Wolff’s] stories are psychologically sensitive and enigmatic. But even more, they are also bizarre, baroque and burlesque. And violent. Strong.”

    Västerbottens-Kuriren, Sweden

  • “Impossible to put away!”

    Dagbladet, Norway

  • “There is no denying that The Devil’s Grip is a curious novel. At times terribly frustrating, at other times exciting like a horror movie. /…/ However, one thing is certain: Wolff definitely manages to make the reader wonder – and that is a literary strength that should be rewarded. In addition, the language is fantastic and filled with little gems.”

    Verdens Gang, Norway

  • “Lina Wolff entered the top of Scandinavian writers with her two latest novels The Polyglot Lovers and Carnality. And she is keeping that position with her equally disturbing and intense new novel The Devil’s Grip. In all three novels, the Swedish author explores the conflict between desire and reason, between rationality and irrationality, while at the same time gripping the reader with bizarre and slightly absurd narratives which move the story forward with magnetic force. /…/ In The Devil’s Grip, Lina Wolff skillfully manages to enter a matter as familiar as it is problematic, where she creates a dramaturgy in the middle of the darkness that, after the lingering introduction, appears to explode in the novel’s intense last half. /…/ It is as if evil is always lurking, while the battle of the sexes with demonic power takes the story forward to a climax as dramatic as it is full of action.”

    Bok365, Norway

  • “Through her three previous novels and the short stories, Lina Wolff has created her own, anything but welcoming literary universe, and has documented herself as a writer with an attitude and voice that makes her unique in Swedish literature. Starting to read a new novel by her is like stepping into a room you might not want to be in, but do not want to leave either. You can never know in advance what lies ahead, only that emotions of various kinds will appear/…/ In the new novel The Devil’s Grip, as often before, violence and sexuality flow into each other, while a battle between the sexes takes place with varying intensity. For disasters to be avoided, a physical and mental terror balance is required, but if such a balance is achieved, it is fragile and impossible to maintain. /…/ Lina Wolff is so confident in her literary work that she can leave all compromises behind and, when the text demands, navigate far beyond the reader’s horizon of expectations. She can allow herself digressions that seem to clash both with each other and with the main narrative, and yet guide the story to its finish with precise timing and preserved consistency.”

    Hufvudstadsbladet, Finland

  • “In this complex novel, Lina Wolff depicts a relationship where eroticism, control and death serves to unveil a gaping sinkhole to both its protagonist and readers – beyond normality and madness. With unexpected escalations and skewed dimensions The Devil’s Grip holds an intensity that edges out reality itself.”

    August Prize jury, Sweden

  • “[The Devil’s Grip] is so ingenious, so funny, so unpredictable. Like a contemporary equivalent to Thomas Mann’s Death in Venice [it] is so dense and atmospheric in the way it interweaves the place with the feeling, and the human with her conditions. ‘Contemporary’ by the way – what an unnecessary definition! Lina Wolff writes for the future. For this it will be grateful to her.”

    Dagens Nyheter, Sweden

  • “August prize-winning author Lina Wolff’s new novel is a wicked tale of jealousy and violence, of being caught up in passion and losing the ability to protect oneself. A young woman leaves Sweden to live in Florence with a man. He looks like a monster, or Bluebeard, but the woman manages to spruce him up – temporarily hiding his true nature. “The Devil’s Grip” is a shrewd study of how a beaten woman learns to accept the violence and reframe reality. The temperature of the tale is at a hellish level and when the pitch-black story is over, I find myself missing it, because the ambience is so absorbing, the tension so seductive and the madness wildly eye-opening.”

    Dagens Nyheter, Sweden

  • “Anyone who has read Lina Wolff will recognize the attention to the overlapping spheres of flesh, passion and violence. Florence, this sunken and despite its beauty, rather repulsive place, reflects the boundaries which the story establishes between lust and the self’s need for vindication. It is strikingly well done, with a sharpness that here feels more distilled than in her previous novels. Wolff digs deeper into a world that is familiar to her, but she does so with greater clarity.”

    Svenska Dagbladet, Sweden

  • “The novel is strong and wise on all levels. /…/ Lina Wolff is not afraid to surprise, confuse and disturb.”

    Helsingin Sanomat, Finland

  • Wolff is a unique and personal voice within Scandinavian literature. She writes with a powerful but interesting language and has a superb sense of genre and psychology. The characters are full of complex feelings and intense desires and wishes, making them impossible to forget. 

    Kristeligt Dagblad, Denmark

  • “The novel is hauntingly beautiful when it probes the psychological parts of the violence. /…/ I like The Devil’s Grip for its exorbitant curiosity and how it enjoyably submerges into the darkness […]”

    Politiken, Denmark

  • The novel is so well composed and compellingly narrated that as a reader, you cannot help reading all the way through the 250 pages in one sitting. You don’t really want to know how it ends but you can’t stand not knowing either.

    Atlas, Denmark

  • “The book is so incredibly well written that you simply cannot put it down. /…/ The Devil’s Grip feels strangely alluring. Like a poison that you know is eating you up from the inside, but that you still want more of. /…/ Wolff’s ability to lure the reader into the deepest and most dysfunctional corners of the sick person’s mind is eminent. /…/ Wolff writes insanely well about the body, about the mind and about the soul. Most of the discomfort unfolds between the lines (…) and even things that seem out of place feels believable. As a reader, you never doubt that there is a meaning to the madness.”

    Berlingske, Denmark

  • “It is precisely here that Lina Wolff shows how good – and how daring – a writer she is. We have seen the same in her previous novels, where she has also written intelligent or diabolically good scenes, which in others would simply degenerate into shameless and speculative entertainment. In The Devils Grip, Lina Wolff takes a bold step further into the swamp./…/ Together with The Polyglot Lovers and Carnality – completely independent in relation to each other – [The Devil’s Grip] is a brilliant and important cornerstone in the Nordic contemporary literature’s thorough excavation of the female victims in the masculine domination of violence.”

    Weekendavisen, Denmark

  • “Wolff is so convincingly nuanced in her writing, from the very beginning she creates a literary treat for the passionate reader. At the same time, the story is disturbing and fascinating, well-written down to the very last character. Wolff manages to unfold the twists and turns of the human psyche, sending chills down the spine with equal parts horror and pleasure. /…/ The Devil’s Grip is a wild and fascinating novel that explores a psychological darkness and provides a disturbing insight into a sick and violent relationship between a man and a woman. /…/ The novel is composed of a language that is captivating and enchanting. The reader can enjoy the author’s precise psychological descriptions while on the edge of the seat, immersed in an uninterrupted tension.”

    Litteratursiden, Denmark

Lina Wolff
  • Literary
Reading material

Swedish edition

English translation

Rights sold

Denmark, Turbine

Finland, Otava

France, Les Argonautes

Germany, Rowohlt

Hungary, Libri/Park

Netherlands, Atlas Contact

Norway, Oktober

Sweden, Albert Bonniers

US, Other Press (NA)

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