The Hills Reply


Translated from by

Published: Coming December 2019

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Book Description

Tarjei Vesaas’s final work before his death, this episodic novel drifts between dream-like abstraction and vivid description of seemingly ordinary yet heightened scenes of the Norwegian countryside. The first story finds a young boy and his father clearing a logging road deep in snow, as their surroundings give way to an expression of power and resignation between the two. Commentary on human behavior continues to meet the quiet power of the natural world in many of the sketches: a narrator watches, enthralled by the convergence of a flock of cranes in a marsh; a girl stands in the snow, waiting for someone who does not come; a drowning man is pushed downstream, towards his eventual rescue. The more abstract vignettes rhythmically ponder questions of the uncertainty of being, Vesaas’s hypnotic prose an invitation to examine the telling, and sometimes disturbing, cycles of nature. The many overlapping, semi-autobiographical sketches of The Hills Reply relate a deep appreciation for the complexity of the human condition, nature, and relationships.

Tarjei Vesaas is the best and most interesting Norwegian writer after the Second World War. His language is so sensitive, so open to his characters’ minds and the landscape they inhabit, that it gives form to that space between – between people and other people, between people and nature – the space where our lives unfold.

Karl Ove Knausgaard

A clear crystal of imagination…a rare kind of masterpiece.

Daily Telegraph

A rare mixture of creative vitality, conviction and artistry.

The Guardan

An excellent translation by Elizabeth Rokkan catches the quiet, poetic mood.

Sunday Telegraph

Infinitely calm and strong.

Daily Telegraph

Disturbing and beautiful…elaborate and powerful.

Sunday Times

A book of great strength and beauty.

The Times

Read Dorris Lessing’s 1993 review of Tarjei Vesaas’ The Ice Palace for The Independent.

Check out Tarjei Vesaas’ poem “Sun-corner” online.