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Love

Length: 3 hrs and 34 mins
Categories: Fiction, Literary
3 out of 5 stars (2 ratings)

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Summary

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.

©2018 Hanne Orstavik, Martin Aitken (P)2018 Random House Audio

Critic reviews

"A trim and electrifying novel... Ørstavik's mastery of perspective and clean, crackling sentences prevent sentimentality of sensationalism from trailing this story of a woman and her accidentally untended child. Both of them long for love, but the desire lines of the book are beautifully crooked. Jon wants his mother, and to be let in out of the cold...the cold that seems a character throughout this excellent novel of near misses." (Claire Vaye Watkins, The New York Times Book Review)

"Love is Ørstavik's strongest book." (Karl Ove Knausgaard)

"Prizewinning Norwegian Ørstavik follows the parallel courses of a single mother and her 8-year-old son during a night that moves unrelentingly toward tragedy.... A nightmarish sense of impending doom hangs over these carefully detailed, tightly controlled pages...icy cold to the core." (Kirkus Reviews)

"[A] haunting masterpiece.... 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." (Publishers Weekly, starred review)

Shortlisted for the 2018 National Book Award for Translated Literature, shortlisted for the 2019 PEN America Translation Prize

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    4 out of 5 stars

Mind-numbingly depressing

Again an idea that deserves 35 pages and becomes a novel. And what a peculiar one! Orstavik’s polar Norway is full of zombies unable to connect to anyone. The relationship-freak monster mother who spends not a thought on his son; the fun house boy who misses a one-night stand while the price would be some proper talk; people letting in strangers to their homes and then letting them go with no further consequences: and many other alienated strangers in a freezing Norwegian winter night.

Celebrated by the most hideous European writer (Knausgaard) ‘Love’ is a pointlessly menacing one with bad pacing but strong images and efficient prose. Because of these Martian-like Norvegians you can not feel any compassion for the fake victims and can not contact to this artificial novel in any point. I struggled more with the 3 hrs 33 min running time than the complete works of Bernard Malamud. Loads of effort go sour and good poetry leaves a bad taste in your mouth. But I think the translation is radiant.

Narrator was too cheerful for such a darkness. Like licking a pink lollypop while reading. I get very soon rid of this monster of a book.

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  • Anonymous User
  • 19-12-18

like dry snow that doesn't hold together .

so glad this was a short book, couldn't wait to be done. I get the focus on daily routine and important to understand characters but no plot development, just hints.