Black Cat
Black Cat
Black Cat

The White City

by Karolina Ramqvist

A celebrated bestseller in Sweden, and the winner of the prestigious Per Olov Enquist Literary Prize, The White City is a novel “with a vulnerability that brings to mind Cormac McCarthy’s The Road” (Expressen) about a criminal’s girlfriend left alone to pick up the pieces of her imploding existence.

  • Imprint Black Cat
  • Page Count 176
  • Publication Date February 07, 2017
  • ISBN-13 978-0-8021-2595-8
  • Dimensions 5" x 5"
  • US List Price $18.00

About The Book

A celebrated bestseller in Sweden, and the winner of the prestigious Per Olov Enquist Literary Prize, The White City is an arresting story of betrayal and empowerment as a criminal’s girlfriend is left behind to pick up the pieces of her imploded existence.

Karin knew what she was getting herself into when she fell for John, a high-flying wheeler-dealer. But she never imagined things would turn out like this: John is gone and the coke-filled parties, seemingly endless flow of money, and high social status have been replaced by cut telephone lines, cut heat, and cut cash. All that remains of Karin’s former life is the mansion he bought for her—and his daughter, the child Karin once swore she would never bring into their dangerous world.

Now she is on her own with baby Dream. As the authorities zero in on organized crime, John’s shady legacy is catching up with her. Over the course of a few days, Karin is forced to take drastic measures to claim what she considers rightfully hers so that she can start over.

With slow-burning psychological intrigue and a seductive atmosphere, The White City is an intimate portrayal of one woman’s struggle to pull herself up from the paralyzing depths of despair and an unflinching examination of what it means to lose control–over your body and your life.

Tags Literary


“A literary tour de force . . . Ramqvist knows how the heart works. And although her book is short . . . it displays an abundance of lyrical writing.” —Mystery Scene Magazine

“Ramqvist crafts a story of sparse detail that moves at a rapid pace . . . This page-turner shows one young woman’s struggle to face harsh realities.” —Susanne Wells, Library Journal

The White City is rich in language and ambience. Moody, mysterious, maternal and magnetic . . . it is a haunting novel of a woman adrift yet firmly attached to romantic memories of her lover and the simple needs of her daughter . . . Ramqvist is a serious contender for the Swedish literary limelight.” —Shelf Awareness

“The ghostly Scandinavian setting and [protagonist] Karin’s closely narrated sense of impending doom, baby cooing patiently at her hip, make Swedish star Ramqvist’s English-language debut an atmospheric and suspenseful read.” —Booklist

“Though the plot of Ramqvist’s English debut may make it sound like a crime thriller, the pace is lulling, the writing sensuous and patiently observed . . . the book feels, more than any thriller, like an allegory of parenting . . . Delicate and unsparing.” —Kirkus Reviews

“Full of suspense and beautifully written dreamlike sequences . . . [The White City] will have a lasting impact on readers.” —Publishers Weekly

The White City is the first novel I have read that follows the adventures of a dyad, a character with two bodies not one, a mother, Karin, and her nursing, still speechless infant, Dream. Ramqvist’s acute rendering of embodied sensual experience combined with her evocation of her double character’s increasingly desperate circumstances create a story of high tension, startling insights, and lasting resonance.” —Siri Hustvedt, author of The Blazing World

“A stirring portrait of human melancholy that fills a Swedish winter with fear, grace, and urgency.” —Rebecca Dinerstein, author of The Sunlit Night

“Karolina Ramqvist writes with frosty precision the kind of literature that is unforgettable. Her portraits of women hit deep into bone and marrow.” —Dorthe Nors, author of So Much for That Winter and Karate Chop

International praise for The White City

“[The White City] cements Karolina Ramqvist’s position as one of Sweden’s most interesting writers.” —Expressen (Sweden)

“Ramqvist handles this small, frozen thriller masterfully.” —Dagens Nyheter (Sweden)

“From the very beginning a suspense is established that never yields.” –—em>Vårt Land (Norway)

“A sharp, compelling examination of the human ideal of strength and perfection . . . The White City is as suspenseful as it is beautiful, a story told from the periphery of the criminal world, a painful portrayal of physical motherhood.” —Nöjesguiden (Sweden)

“An incredible novel that you experience with all your senses.” —Borås Tidning (Sweden)

“An incredibly skillfully written novel . . . It bears witness to a writer who knows her craft, who doesn’t need to complicate things. That is high art.” —Arbetet

“[A] little gem of a book, that ought to be read both for its spare and beautiful language as well as for the sense of unease it creates in the reader.” —Skånskan (Sweden)


The hall was dark, as if it weren’t morning at all. A dirty mirror hung askew. Karin, barefoot and naked, stood before it, while propping open the door to the bathroom so its light would fall across her body. Her skin was goose-pimpled from the cold, pale and bluish. Her stomach sagged and her breasts were heavy and unshapely. The left one had swelled during the night, and the skin was stretched so thin a web of veins showed through.

She pulled the skin on her belly until it was smooth and leaned forward to study the stretch marks rising in glossy relief from groin to navel. During her last flight to New York, she’d been woken by the pilot’s voice on the speakers, suggesting they take in the view over Iceland. She’d sat up and gazed down at the island, which was almost entirely covered by glaciers, and had noticed streaks in the ice. Black rivers spreading out like a giant’s mane, thousands of strands running across the frozen ground.

The traces pregnancy had left on her stomach looked just like that.

Seeing these marks now, she felt as far away from them as she’d felt from the ice, flying thirty thousand feet above it.

During her pregnancy, she’d convinced herself that if she worried enough about getting stretch marks, she wouldn’t get any.

Now she knew that wasn’t how it worked.

Fear doesn’t operate like a paternoster; it’s an unease that wells up when you know what’s at stake. It’s not true that what you worry about the most isn’t going to happen. Rather, it’s highly likely that it will.