By Steve Sem-Sandberg

Woyzeck is the story of a loyal foot soldier who, in a fit of jealous rage, kills the woman he loves. In 1836, this true story inspired Georg Büchner to write the play that would become a classic in European dramas. Sem-Sandberg basis his latest novel W. on the same material. It is a story of a lonely man who joins the army to escape his misery and participates in one of the many wars in the early 19th century.

Sem-Sandberg paints a picture of a torn Europe – a continent falling apart under the savagery of war, while dreaming of a whole new and enlightened view on the individual as a social creature. First and foremost, though, W. is a ruthless study of the vulnerable human being, of the abyss that, according to Büchner, constitutes every person.


First published by Albert Bonnier förlag September 2019


Germany, Klett Cotta


Steve Sem-Sandberg’s new novel W shines from within, as from a thousand small inexorable lamps directed into the most acute. […] a sharp and hyper sensitive novel about abandonment and violence. […] it sparks electrically from this art of novel sharp in style. […] Steve Sem-Sandberg has with W written a close study in human exposure and male rage. To read it is like to crossing the surface, gasping, and greedily devour the air that only really good literature can bring. It’s a fantastic, spell-binding and terrible book.
Dagens Nyheter

It’s not a book that offers comprehension, but something bigger: a feeling of solidarity. […] One could call Steve Sem-Sandberg’s W for a masterly psychological case study – it wouldn’t be wrong – but it would in some way also to be reducing this novel, to make it something too general. No, it’s the collaboration and tension between the reader and Woyzeck, rather than the attempts to find more profound motives, that makes this reading experience so strong. 

You walk by his side with a feeling of solidarity, not comprehension. You are led to the scaffold without having gotten any proper answer on the question about the nature of the crime, if it was in the heat of the moment or the revenge for an entire life of injustices. And when you are closing the book it’s as if the broadaxe falls down a second time.