Uppsala in the 1890’s. He has just been given permanent employment as assisting town doctor and it’s his duty to supervise the town’s ”public” women. He examines them on a weekly basis and sometimes even patrols the streets at night alongside a police constaple, to make sure they behave accordingly. Everything is to be handled with absolute discretion. But when one of the young women begs for his help he is unable to turn her down. He crosses a border, and a silence begins to widen all around him – in the town as well as between him and his wife.
Ola Larsmo’s novel recalls a breaking point in our history by closely following a character who doesn’t feel at home in neither the new nor the old, but that is compelled to follow his conscience. And parallell to the story about the town doctor runs the story about the young woman.

Jag vill inte tjäna is an unobtrusive but intense story with a fine interplay between the author’s interest in history and social development and his ability to create vivid characters that linger in the reader’s mind.


First published by Albert Bonniers Förlag, Sweden, 2009.
290 pages.


France, Denoël
Serbia, Rende
Sweden, Albert Bonniers förlag


The style is crystal clear, unrelenting, it’s a master at work here.
Dan Sjögren, Arbetarbladet

”Jag vill inte tjäna” is a very fine novel, perhaps the best Larsmo has ever written, but with a keynote consisting of energetic melancholy and harsh empathy.
Nils Schwartz, Expressen

It is a gruesome and beautiful book, narrated with a powerful, unobtrusive intensity.
Gun-Britt Sundström, Svenska Dagbladet

Allow yourself to be seduced by an enigmatic and believable story, for this is a good book.
Jenny Maria Nilsson, Helsingborgs Dagblad

Larsmo’s earlier production has been distinguished by a remarkably high artistic standard. One happily recalls ”Himmel och jord må brinna” (1993) and maybe above all the intense ”En glänta i skogen” (2004). The question is if he hasn’t exceeded himself with this year’s book with all its restrained, tightly reined sorrow and anger.
Pär Hellström, UNT

It’s a horrid story that Larsmo brings out in the open and much like Lukas Moodyson’s movie Lilya 4-ever, about human trafficking and the sex trade, it highlights the aspects of our society that we might not always want to consider and acknowledge… Ola Larsmo has written a very important novel, that through these stories of the past also tells us something about the age in which we live now .
Bengt Söderhäll, Gefle Dagblad

The narrative and the images are perfectly balanced against each other – it is a clear and enjoyable narrative that accentuates carefully selected details, those that help the reader create his or her own mental images.
Elisabeth Norin, Kristianstadsbladet

Ola Larsmo’s book reeks of poverty and social anxiety, manure on the Uppsala plain and modern disinfectants at the Academic Hospital. It is a magnificently historical-moral manifest from a time when everything is put into motion towards an unknown future.
Jan-Olov Nyström, Norran