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The Tempest

Steve Sem-Sandberg
Translated by Anna Paterson

This haunting new novel from Steve Sem-Sandberg, one of Europe’s most celebrated writers, mesmerisingly exposes our own burdens of history.

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I should not have gone back to the island but did it all the same.

After many years away, Andreas returns to his childhood home on a small island off the Norwegian coast. He is there to sort through the belongings of his late foster father in their decaying old house, the Yellow Villa. But he soon finds himself overwhelmed with unexpected memories, and begins to uncover not only the shadowy history of the island, but the mysterious truth about his family’s past …

Rich in shimmering echoes from Shakespeare’s play, Steve Sem-Sandberg’s The Tempest is a hypnotic portrayal of the inherited guilt that seeps through generations, haunting an island overgrown with myths.

Critic Reviews

Dark and wonderfully atmospheric ... What makes The Tempest truly special is the risks that Sem-Sandberg takes with narrative conventions, the way that his prose seems to break every rule in the creative writing handbook, and yet does so joyfully, recklessly and utterly convincingly. That such stylistic complexity is rendered in a manner that feels entirely natural is testimony to the great skill of the translator, Anna Paterson ... It’s as if the book’s most significant borrowing from Shakespeare’s play is not the island setting, but rather Prospero’s total control of narrative, the omnipotence of the author-magician.

Alex Preston, Spectator
Critic Reviews

Peels back layers of secrecy, evasion and guilt ... Captures the relentless, dark dream-flow of Andreas’s thoughts in simple, lucid prose ... There are echoes of Shakespeare’s play in this Tempest. But themes of forgiveness and repentance aren’t so obvious here; the lingering shadows of complicity remain dense and murky.

The Times
Critic Reviews

Sinister mysteries thicken and swirl like the island’s mist as this densely atmospheric novel progresses, culminating in a conclusion that avoids easy answers.

Daily Mail
Critic Reviews

With faint echos of Shakespeare’s play, this is a dark, elegant and skillfully constructed novel which vividly evokes its unusual setting.

Mail on Sunday
Critic Reviews


Sunday Times
Critic Reviews

‘Sem-Sandberg is a novelist determined to confront the worst of humanity… a gripping, disturbing book.’


Steve Sem-Sandberg was born in 1958. He is the award-winning Swedish author of The Emperor of Lies, an international bestseller which received the August Prize. His most recent novel is The Chosen Ones, which was awarded the Prix Medicis Etranger in 2016. He divides his time between Vienna and Stockholm.

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