Zara Kjellner

Zara Kjellner is a writer and cultural journalist, writing regularly in the Swedish daily newspaper Expressen. Manhattan is her first novel.

Photo: Astrid-Grelz




A cold spring, a hot summer. An autumn with great colours in the skies and a winter with sharp icicles. Sonia divides all her time between her dominating boyfriend Diego and her sick mother Olga, between the library and her shop attendant job.

Sonia has never been to New York, but the Victoria’s Secret model she follows on social media lives in Manhattan. Sonia scrolls through her Instagram feed and dreams of hitting the model in the stomach or running her fingers through her hair. In Sonia’s neighbourhood in central Stockholm there is another Manhattan, a place where frustrated men disappear behind a black door. Olga is hospitalized and sees midnight blue dragons on the walls. You have my big hands, she tells Sonia. Learn how to use them. Manhattan is a story about the suffocating relationship between a mother and a daughter, and the search for a way out.

Reminiscent of Marguerite Duras’ writing, Zara Kjellner’s iridescent story about desires, violence and urban alienation has already been widely acclaimed by readers and critics.

Zara Kjellner

Original title:

April 2019

Literary Fiction

Original publisher:

Reading material:
Swedish manuscript (final)
English sample

150 pages


”Stylistically well executed and a promising debut.”