Will and Testament
Yet another excellent offering from Verso Books new fiction imprint, this novel tells the story of gaslighting within a family dynamic. As the narrator attempts to untangle herself from her family’s denial and silence of a trauma and the lasting hold it has on her, this novel becomes a compelling exploration of memory, repression and truth. Although it is written sparingly with little emotion, the pain is palpable, and we are left reeling at the injustice of manipulation and not being believed. Ultimately the novel is about how it’s much easier to cause other people pain than look at your own, and the ripple effect that this can have across generations. Essential.
Translated from Norwegian, by Charlotte Barslund.
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.
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