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Book Description

Elegant, slippery, and provocative, Antiquity is a queer Lolita story by prize-winning Swedish author Hanna Johansson—a story of desire, power, obsession, observation, and taboo

On a Greek island rich with ancient beauty, a lonely woman in her thirties upends the relationship between a mother and her teenage daughter. Lust and admiration for Helena, a chic older artist, brings Antiquity’s unnamed narrator to Ermoupoli, where Helena’s daughter, Olga, seems at first like an obstacle and a nuisance. But the unpredictable forces of ego and desire take over, leading our narrator down a more dangerous path, and causing the roles of lover and beloved, child and adult, stranger and intimate to become distorted. As the months go by, the fragile web connecting the three women nears rupture, and the ominous consequences of their entanglement loom just beyond a summer that must end.

With echoes of Death in Venice, Call Me by Your Name, and The Lover, but wholly original and contemporary, Antiquity probes the depths of memory, beauty, morality, and the narratives that arrange our experience of the world.

About the Authors

Praise For This Book

Vulture, A Most Anticipated Title
Bookshop, A Most Anticipated Title of the Year
Electric Literature, A Must-Read Queer Book of the Year
LGBQT Reads, A Most Anticipated Title of 2024

"While Johansson is as mordant and hypnotic as Nabokov, she opts for restraint over pyrotechnics. (Credit is also due to Kira Josefsson’s deft translation from the Swedish.) This is a novel to savor and argue with . . . I’ve come to think of Antiquity as a Polaroid of the ocean at night, a deep-time abyss, an intimate menace." —Ryan Chapman, The New York Times Book Review

"Highbrow brilliant." —New York Magazine

"Hypnotic." —Keziah Weir, Vanity Fair

"[O]ne exquisitely rendered moment after another . . . Antiquity maps out the crystallizing process of an impression, the places in a temporary affair where the fleshy stuff of love or lust hardens into narrative." —Rosa Boshier González, The Believer

"A delicious slow-burn meditation on desire, envy, language, and memory." —Jasmine Vojdani, Vulture

"Fascinatingly deceptive . . . a beautifully drawn portrait where everything is wrong." —Anna Gaca, Los Angeles Review of Books

"In Antiquity, Hanna Johansson unleashes a rapturous, sinuous tale of desire and its reckless vehicle . . . Shifting between the incantatory posturing of someone captivated by the forbidden and the anxious distortions of unreciprocated intimacy, Johansson deftly grows an explosive triangulation in which closeness begets isolation, and isolation begets tragedy." —Sofija Popovska, Asymptote Journal

"A gorgeously written book about lust, desire, power, and obsession. Johansson, along with Josefsson’s translations, sophisticatedly tells a sultry story about a forbidden relationship that brings a family to the brink." —Debutiful

"Gorgeous, lacerating . . . Johansson’s creation, in Josefsson’s translation, reminds us of our own tendency to narrativize life, to write ourselves out of the intimate joy of immediate experience by stepping back and fiddling with the details, fashioning an ideal self. Antiquity feels destined to be a classic, as multifaceted, revealing, and transformative as works by Dostoyevsky, Mann, and Nabokov. Its power comes from its vulnerable, gorgeous prose, replete with lush images, and also from its structural sophistication—a complete convergence of shape and themes. The textual body of the novel is a monument to the clash between the natural flow of life and its narrativized counterpart, felt through the temporal textures of the story, its narratological conflict." —Sofija Popovska, Asymptote

"Obsessively observant and cuttingly internal." —JR Ramakrishnan, Electric Literature

"A mesmerizing journey into the roots of intimacy, Johansson’s debut novel gives a skillfully crafted, well-defined face to loneliness . . . [A] meditation on how the hunger for human connection consumes boundaries between self and other." —Booklist

"A moody exploration of loneliness and obsession against the backdrop of an arrestingly beautiful Greek island . . . Johansson’s sentences are lovely and her observations are sharp and clear-eyed." —Publishers Weekly

"A fiction debut that explores the intersection of desire and power . . . Johansson uses her chosen setting to good effect. Her characters are surrounded by sumptuous sensory experiences but also isolated, and that isolation enhances the sense of pending disaster that permeates the text . . . [A] writer to watch." —Kirkus Reviews

"A wonderful novel written with the menacing elegance of a cat burglar working in the shadows and at great heights." —Catherine Lacey, author of Biography of X

"Entrancing and calamitous, Antiquity dreams deeply into the shadows of desire and obsession. A precise and mysterious spell of a book." —Rachel Yoder, author of Nightbitch

"In Antiquity, Hanna Johansson probes the most forbidden recesses of desire, aging, and memory in sentences as lucent and incisive as shards of glass. Wily, mesmeric, and utterly disarming, this fabulously translated novel held me captive from the very first page, and its questions and images will linger in my blood for a long time. Rarely have I felt so transported and beguiled by a book, let alone a debut. Don't miss it." —Maggie Millner, author of Couplets: A Love Story

"What Hanna Johansson offers in her electric, unsettling debut refuses all protection and dares the reader to do the same. Kira Josefsson’s translation is its own marvel, the language brimming with just-kept chaos until the keeping’s no longer possible. I won’t forget this book." —Anna Moschovakis, author of Participation