Love by Hanne Orstavik is such a beautiful and powerful book. The writing is gorgeous, inventive and haunting. The seamless transition between the mother’s narration and the son’s makes you feel like they are one and never apart, but they are literally away from each other. Each of them follows their own stream of thoughts, yet Jon’s thoughts keep coming back to his mother, while Vibeke doesn’t think about her son at all.
Orstavik contested the idealization of motherhood and love in this award winning novel. She shows us the elegance and the power of words and their long lasting effect in this short novel, which recounts what happened to Vibeke and her son over the course of one freezingly cold winter night in a small town in the far North of Norway.
In 2006 Love was voted the 6th best novel in the prestigious contest of the 25 best novels in the last 25 years in Norway (one of Karl Ove Knausgaard’s novels ranked 11th). I hope they will translate more of her works.
Originally published in 1997, Love was translated from the Norwegian by Martin Aitken and published in English in 2018.