The story takes place in Vienna, the year is 1910 and Halley’s comet is circling the globe. It is the dawn of a new area where modernism is king, old traditions have been thrown to the wind and the air is ripe with expectations. Alone in his cocoon of ancient values and backwards thinking is the aging editor Herman Freytag who refuses to bow to the experimental tastes of the young intellectuals. Our story begins when his former employer contacts him and asks him to edit their bestselling author’s (Boris Barsch) new novel. Suddenly Freytag is approached by the mysterious Mr Signori, an agent from the Vatican sent to delay and possibly prevent the publication of Barsch’s novel. Signori moves in the Vatican’s innermost circles and knows something about the manuscript that could potentially turn it into political dynamite. Freytag is faced with more and more unreasonable demands and soon it becomes a question of life and death…

The False Friend is a literary novel of the classic tradition, a story with both darkness and light, which illuminates a shady period in the history of the Vatican. It was unanimously hailed by the Swedish press and was shortlisted for the Swedish Debut Prize, Borås Tidnings Debutantpris.
In France it received equal literary acclaim and was nominated for the prestigious Prix Fémina Étranger for best foreign fiction.

First published by Norstedts, Sweden, 2009. 530 pages.
New version 2014, 460 pages.

France, Grasset & Fasquelle
France, Livre de Poche
German, BTB
Sweden, Norstedts

Nilsson writes in an old-fashioned, elegant, almost graceful style, with frequent flashes of comedy in what must be the best Swedish debut novel for many years. 
Tidningen Vi 

Incredibly skilfully written; a page-turner with a brain.
Marie Lundström, member of the jury for the Borås Tidning Debutant Award

This is, in more ways than one, an exceptionally strong Swedish debut novel from which a wonderfully stylish author emerges!
Skånska Dagbladet

A book to devour with reverie, like the protagonist’s poppy seed cake.
Michael Vagner, Est Républicain

Nilsson re-invents a style of writing, a meandering phrasing, a timeless elegance, like an aged amber alcohol. 
Martine Laval, Télérama

… a dazzling novel, exciting from start to finish, orchestrated like a symphony.
Le Soir