Is Mother Dead (Verso Fiction) (Hardcover)
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A cat and mouse game of surveillance and psychological torment develops between a middleaged artist and her aging mother, as Vigdis Hjorth returns to the themes of her controverdsial modern classic, Will and Testament
'To mother is to murder, or close enough', thinks Johanna, as she looks at the spelling of the two words in Norwegian. She's recently widowed and back in Oslo after a long absence as she prepares for a retrospective of her art.The subject of her work is motherhood and some of her more controversial paintings have brought aboiut a dramatic rift between parent and child. This new proximity, after decades of acrimonius absence, set both women on edge, and before too long Johanna finds her mother stalking her thoughts, and Johanna starts stalking her mother's house.
About the Author
Vigdis Hjorth is the author of over a dozen prize-winning and bestselling novels. Will and Testament sold 150,000 copies in Norway and has received several awards, including the Norwegian Critics Prize for Literature and the Norwegian Booksellers’ Prize, as well as being nominated for the National Book Award and Nordic Council Literature Prize. She lives in Oslo.
“Hjorth delivers a gripping tale of obsession about an artist and her frayed relationship with her family. [She] keenly walks the line between Johanna’s concern and mania; as Johanna’s hang-ups occasionally spin out of control, they remain true to the character. This accomplished novel is hard to shake.”
—Publishers Weekly (starred review)
“In Is Mother Dead, Hjorth returns to themes of family and estrangement. Johanna, a middle-aged artist, returns to Oslo for a retrospective of her work. She attempts to reconnect with her mother, but she doesn’t pick up the phone. Johanna continues to call and text her, fixating on reaching her despite surfacing memories of an unhappy childhood. She continues to stalk her mother—hiding out in her mother’s building, following her, and going through her trash—resulting in a memorable story of surveillance and psychological torment.”
—Emily Firetog, Lit Hub (“Most Anticipated Books of 2022”)
“A darkly insightful examination of mother-daughter relationships that captivates with the suspense of a thriller. The novel’s strength lies in its deft use of psychological analysis as it looks at this relationship through one lens after another.”
“Is Mother Dead is a Norwegian domestic thriller about the lengths to which people will go to dig up truths that others want to stay buried.”
—Foreword Reviews (Starred Review)
“Hjorth has written a fascinating tale about the Norwegian postal system and composed a best-selling work of autofiction … In her latest work to appear in English, an ex-pat artist returns to Norway to oversee a retrospective of her work and attempts to contact, and then stalks, her estranged mother.”
—The Millions (“Most Anticipated Books of 2022”)
“Vigdis Hjorth is a major hero of mine. When my friend Sheila Heti told me to read A House in Norway, my life was changed. I’ve since recommended her work to so many people, who love it just as passionately. Hjorth has tapped into the novel in a way I have not seen or experienced since Woolf, Kafka, and Bernhard.”
—Makenna Goodman, author of The Shame
“A master of familial estrangement and obsession, Hjorth tells the story of Johanna, an artist living abroad who returns to Oslo for a retrospective of her work. After initial attempts to get in touch with her estranged mother fail, she begins stalking her, hiding out in her building and rummaging through her trash. Hjorth’s piercing writing captures the torment and mania that roils under the surface of most all of us.”
—Lynn Steger Strong, Los Angeles Times