Sweet Lolita sees a connection between different types of unfair sex

The debut novel Sweet Lolita by Kiki Sehlstedt, published by Piratförlaget 2018, is a detective story about sexual exploitation, and what we refer to as unfair sex. The title refers to an attire within Japanese sub-culture with the same name, a girlish innocent fashion made sexual by the perpetrator in the story.

The book let its reader follow four stories that are all moved by the crime that is sexual exploitation. Three of these are originally parallel and separately portrays the lives of the main characters in the story. During the course of the book the characters are weaved together in what is also a reminder of what the fatal consequences of these types of crimes are for the victim, especially when the victim is a child.

Thirteen-year-old Matilda thinks that the people around her are absent. She sometimes undresses in front of her webcam in exchange for a couple of hundreds via Swish. When she discovered that she gets paid more when dressed in the innocent Lolita-fashion she undresses pastel coloured dresses surrounded by teddybears behind the locked door to her maiden room. In the search for adrenalin highs, money and affirmation together with a new and a couple of years older friend her behaviour tends to get more and more hazardous, something that the perpetrators in the book (and in real life) willingly take advantage of.

The reader also meets Aida Svantesson, a former foreign correspondent and has been living in Sweden again for 11 months. In her current role as a reporter she has reviewed net pedophiles when she is informed of the death of her sister. The work in trying to process the tragic news is woven together with her journalist work where she discovers connections in her sisters’ research as a postgraduate in criminology. In a strenuous state of denial and constant discoveries, where the line between private and professional matters are erased, Aida receives help from her sisters’ former tutor from the institution of Criminology and Jurisprudence at the University of Stockholm, Kajan Berglund.

Kajan Berglund, a professor in criminology, is a character that we get to follow mainly from a distance. The reader is kept apart from her private life, and gets to know her mainly through professional performances, every day routines, the cooperation with Aida and some official statements about the case. She is driven by her moral principles as well as her ambition to be right, so she contributes with both expertise and stubbornness in her own and Aidas fight for justice.

Apart from all of this, a no-name storyteller, reveals the development of a destructive relationship from his/her early teen years. The story is written in I-form which combined with a writing manner that seems to be digging up painful memories makes this a very believable and touching portrayal of and about sexual assault. These nameless episodes stir powerful emotions and can therefore be a big contribution in the books potential to raise attention. The episodes also bring up and problematizes the fact that up to 35% of sexual crimes are committed by someone the victim is familiar with (the national safety survey of BRÅ, 2016). Within this category of sexual crimes, the unrecorded numbers are supposedly very high since the circumstances surrounding the crimes can be very sensitive. This is also something the reader is shown glimpses of through the story of the anonymous storyteller, with a tremendously tragic ending, but that also includes a shimmer of hope.

Sweet Lolita is primarily a detective story, but a detective story that, just as RealStars, sees connection between different types of unfair sex. It puts focus on hot topics about how internet is used to exploit the vulnerability of people and therefore is the platform to where victim and perpetrator can make contact. It also allows the painful betrayal of assault committed by someone close, to sink in, and the stories enlightens the trauma of the victim. Because the reader gets to meet characters that undertake an investigative mission there is also an ambition to put the events in the story in a greater context, which makes the book even more relevant.

You can find the book here:

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