A young writer returns to her childhood home, where her mother is dying of cancer, to recover from a failed love affair.
In Klougart’s English-language debut, her narrator struggles with depression, loneliness, and existential angst while trying to make sense of her rocky relationships. Something of a wunderkind in her native Denmark, Klougart has published three other novels to wide acclaim, earning comparisons to Virginia Woolf and Anne Carson. Translated by Aitken, this discursive, deeply internal account of psychological pain has few English-language stylistic analogs, in part because its lyrical prose resists the idea of being a novel more often than it embraces it. As the narrator reflects on love lost, the point of view slips between first person and third person—sometimes even midparagraph—suggesting a psychological break, dissociation from a painful past, and the failure to write an accurate first-person account all rolled into one. Readers willing to take their time and allow Klougart to forcefully direct their attention will be treated to strange and surprising metaphors—an apartment smells like “bottled summer,” and love is “A desire for light, twenty-four hours a day.” But one eventually wonders how many pages—no matter how carefully wrought—are needed to confirm this novel’s grim yet pragmatic philosophy: death is coming for us all.
Klougart delivers a sustained meditation on love, loss, and alienation.