WINNER OF THE 2019 PEN TRANSLATION PRIZE
FINALIST FOR THE NATIONAL BOOK AWARD FOR TRANSLATED LITERATURE
A mother and son move to a village in northern Norway, each ensconced in their own world. Their distance has fatal consequences.
Love is the story of Vibeke and Jon, a mother and son who have just moved to a small place in the north of Norway. It's the day before Jon's birthday, and a travelling carnival has come to the village. Jon goes out to sell lottery tickets for his sports club, and Vibeke is going to the library. From here on we follow the two individuals on their separate journeys through a cold winter's night - while a sense of uneasiness grows. Love illustrates how language builds its own reality, and thus how mother and son can live in completely separate worlds. This distance is found not only between human beings, but also within each individual. This novel shows how such distance may have fatal consequences.
This haunting masterpiece by rstavik, first published in 1997, follows Vibeke, a young single mother, and her son, Jon, over the course of one cold night in the isolated town in northern Norway to which they have recently moved. It is the day before Jon's ninth birthday, and the boy leaves his home to give his mother time to prepare for his celebration. As Jon wanders, Vibeke forgets about her son and steps out herself to visit the library. From here, the narrative splits to monitor both characters separately as they encounter townsfolk and drift through the hours. Vibeke stops at a traveling carnival, where she strikes up a conversation with one of the employees, while Jon makes friends with a girl from school and later realizes he's locked out of his home. rstavik shifts from Vibeke to Jon with incredible dexterity, often jumping perspective from one paragraph to the next, and, as their seemingly mundane nights progress, a creeping sense of dread builds. The deceptively simple novel is slow-burning, placing each character into situations associated with horror entering an unfamiliar house, accepting a ride from a stranger and the result is a magnificent tale.