LONGLISTED FOR THE 2019 NATIONAL BOOK AWARD
LONGLISTED FOR THE 2020 BEST TRANSLATED BOOK AWARD FOR FICTION
“The cumulative effect is hypnotic. Hjorth works finely parsed and brilliant variations on her unrelenting theme of familial mistrust and misunderstanding.” –New York Times
“A prickly, persuasive novel. Like Knausgaard, Hjorth is writing against repression, against the taboo on telling things as they really are. But he urges us to look at dead bodies; she forces us to regard bleeding souls.” –New Yorker
Four siblings. Two summer houses. One terrible secret. When a dispute over her parents’ will grows bitter, Bergljot is drawn back into the orbit of the family she fled twenty years before. Her mother and father have decided to leave two island summer houses to her sisters, disinheriting the two eldest siblings from the most meaningful part of the estate. To outsiders, it is a quarrel about property and favouritism. But Bergljot, who has borne a horrible secret since childhood, understands the gesture as something very different—a final attempt to suppress the truth and a cruel insult to the grievously injured.
Will and Testament is a lyrical meditation on trauma and memory, as well as a furious account of a woman’s struggle to survive and be believed. Vigdis Hjorth’s novel became a controversial literary sensation in Norway and has been translated into twenty languages.
A long-suppressed family secret comes to light in Hjorth's captivating, psychologically intense novel, a bestseller in her native Norway. Bergljot, a magazine editor living in Lier, Norway, is a mother to three adult children and no longer speaks to her own parents and younger siblings. But Bergljot and her brother B rd get back in touch after a conflict erupts over cabins their parents have willed only to their other children, Astrid and sa. B rd is seeking support from Bergljot, enraged by what he sees as an unfair division of inheritance. But Bergljot is less concerned with the cabins than with her family's history of denial. When, 23 years earlier, she tried to tell her family about the abuse she suffered at the hands of her father, her mother "refused to believe," and Bergljot became "an outcast who threatened the family honour." Now, for the sake of justice and her own sanity, Bergljot decides she must try again to make her family acknowledge what happened. Bergljot emerges as a damaged but heroic figure; she drinks too much and is constantly on the phone with her children and her friend Klara, yet she is determined to forgive and to live a full life; "to be fundamentally unhappy, shaken and rattled to your core, and yet still experience moments of happiness." Hjorth's thoughtful, drily funny, and often devastating novel will leave a deep and lasting impression on readers.