Polyglot Lovers

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UPC: 9781911508441
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Author: Lina Wolff
Translator: Saskia Vogel
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  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: And Other Stories (April 30, 2019)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 191150844X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1911508441
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 0.8 x 7.8 inches

‘Do you have to stare like that?’ I asked.
‘Think about the actors in porn. They’ve got no problem showing themselves off.’
‘Think about when I broke your nose,’I replied.

Ellinor is thirty-six. She wears soft black sweatpants and a Michelin Man jacket. She fights. She tries her hand at online dating, only to find herself stranded by a snowstorm in Stockholm and at the heart of a literary intrigue. Cut to Max Lamas, author, who dreams of a polyglot lover, a woman who will understand him – in every tongue. His search takes him to Italy, where he befriends a marchesa on the brink of ruin, and where her granddaughter, Lucrezia, brings this tale to its final, shocking conclusion.


“It’s been a long time since I read something this unique, seething, wilful.” Svenska Dagbladet

“What a novel! I’m totally charmed! I was completely absorbed by The Polyglot Lovers . . . it's really, really fabulous. Every sentence is great. [This] is a book to read and discover and read over and over again.” Borås Tidning

“Dizzying . . . Lina Wolff has written a many-voiced, meandering, feminist, arresting and rather provocative novel.” Kulturnytt, Sweden Radio

“Wolff has written a kind of blackened, heart-rending satire on gender roles, in which the tempo of the pacily inventive – and downright gorgeous – prose complicates, enlivens and plays with the eloquent lovers she’s taken it upon herself to portray.” Kristofer Folkhammar, Aftonbladet

“You know when a novel is so thrilling that you just don’t want it to end? That’s what it was like reading Lina Wolff’s third book The Polyglot Lovers. I have high expectations . . . and yet they were surpassed.” Sydsvenskan

“Wolff’s prose has a quality of ‘otherness’ entirely in keeping with the surreal atmosphere of the novel. This strange, provocative debut sits well alongside the work of Roxane Gay, Katherine Angel, Maggie Nelson, Zoe Pilger and Miranda July . . . a cool, clever and fierce addition to the canon of modern feminist literature.” Sarah Perry, The Guardian

“A filmic offering . . . channelling the spirit of Pedro Almodóvar. A thoroughly invigorating novel.” Lucy Scholes, The Independent

"Like Virginie Despentes and Elfriede Jelinek, Lina Wolff stares the reader right in the eyes and speaks in a voice uniquely her own: The Polyglot Lovers is clear, stark, devastating." Joanna Walsh

"The Polyglot Lovers is storytelling as a martial arts combination move, delivered with precision, style and glee." Sjón

"whip-smart and deliciously cynical ... smart, funny, and sad in turns" – Kirkus Reviews

"Lina Wolff is one of my favourite writers of our time. From apparently innocuous starting points, she weaves the darkness into her stories and lets men expose themselves as pitiable when they thought they were being witty and cynical. Her writing detonates just when you are smiling calmly." - Yuri Herrera

Bookseller endorsements

"The Polyglot Lovers is electric – it crackles with wit, ferocity and intelligence. We are lucky to have Lina Wolff." - Elizabeth Perry, City Books, Hove

"The Polyglot Lovers is a testament to the temperamental nature of love and power, and the complexities that come with asserting one’s own agency. This book is proof that irreverence and wit have a place in feminist theory. I was captivated from page one." - Cristina Rodriguez, Deep Vellum Books, Dallas, TX

"Reading The Polyglot Lovers, I was struck once again by just how sharp a writer Wolff is. There are few writers out there capable of besting her. If she has a kindred spirit in contemporary fiction, it's Ottessa Moshfegh, with whom she shares a darkly funny and unflinching sensibility." - Gary Perry, Foyles, London

"The Polyglot Lovers is an audacious and often very funny reckoning with the ways men view women by a novelist of rare talents. Lina Wolff, equal parts ferocious and sly, has proven herself one of our indispensable writers with this uppercut of a book." - Stephen Sparks, Point Reyes Books, Point Reyes, CA

"The Polyglot Lovers is a bracing and sharp exploration of identity, gender, and literature, told in prose and images that constantly unsettle the reader. It is also an exquisite act of literary revenge and should confirm Lina Wolff's status as a major voice in world literature." - Josh Cook, Porter Square Books, Cambridge, MA

"An exquisite and insightful dive into the delights and horrors of our constant search for human connection, and what happens when women decide to set fire to the literary male gaze." - Emma Ramadan, Riffraff, Providence, RI

"I absolutely loved it. Wolff's characters come to life with poignancy and dark humour. The Polyglot Lovers cuts to the heart." - Tom Harris, Mr B’s Emporium, Bath

"Lina Wolff's The Polyglot Lovers is a punch you in the face, grab you by the collar, and throw you across the room kind of novel. Brilliantly written, incisive and engaging, it is a stunning work. If you haven't yet (and why haven't you?) now would be a good time to add Wolff to your to-be-read pile." - Tom Flynn, Volumes Bookcafe, Chicago, IL

"A sharp-eyed, sometimes surreal, often funny take on male-female power dynamics." – Mary Ellen Quinn

"Keep an eye out for this one: The Polyglot Lovers is one of those rare birds that is both smart as hell and, in the parlance of our times, 'pace-y." - Heather Cleary, Bookmarks

"The edifice of male genius is annihilated in this galvanizing novel from Wolff. [...] Wolff orchestrates her divergent plots into riveting harmony, but more striking is the audacity with which she reveals Max and Ruben’s reckless egoism. 'I’m an autodidact in male devastation,' Claudia declares before sticking the final pin in Max’s inflated persona. Wolff’s novel proves the necessity of cultivating such a specialty. Firing on all cylinders from beginning to end, this story pulses with intellect and vitality unmatched by the literary barons it deposes." - Publishers Weekly

“I loved The Polyglot Lovers by Lina Wolff (translated by Saskia Vogel), a funny, biting, and exhilaratingly shifty novel about literary revenge and the male ego.” - Gabe Habash


Lina Wolff has lived and worked in Italy and Spain. During her years in Valencia and Madrid, she began to write her short story collection Many People Die Like You (forthcoming in English translation from And Other Stories in 2020). Bret Easton Ellis and the Other Dogs, her first novel, was awarded the Oxford-Weidenfeld Translation Prize, and Sweden’s Vi Magazine Literature Prize, and shortlisted for the prestigious 2013 Swedish Radio Award for Best Novel of the Year. She now lives in southern Sweden. Her second novel, The Polyglot Lovers, won Sweden’s biggest domestic literary prize, the August Prize, and the Svenska Dagbladet Prize.

Saskia Vogel is an author and translator from Los Angeles, now living in Berlin. Permission, her debut novel, will be published in English, Spanish, French and Swedish in 2019. She has translated leading Swedish authors such as Karolina Ramqvist, Katrine Marcal, and Lena Andersson. Her translations and writing have appeared in publications such as Granta, Guernica, The White Review, The Offing, Paris Review Daily, and The Quietus.