The Hills Reply


Translated from by

Published: Coming December 2019

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Book Description

Tarjei Vesaas’s final work, The Hills Reply, is a flow of intensely lyrical autobiographical scenes. The vivid beauty of the wilds of Norway grounds the narrator’s interior flashes. The first sketch finds a boy, his father, and their packhorse clearing a logging road buried in snow as their surroundings give way to a crisis. Profound insights into human behavior, solitude, and nonverbal communication stand up to the power and immensity of the natural world. The land speaks to (and at times almost swallows) the central character, as he is pushed to the edge of what a body and mind can endure. The hypnotic pulse of Vesaas’ prose blurs the line between memory and hallucination, as it stares bravely into the unblinking eye of Nature. An unforgettable book, The Hills Reply is a visceral salute to the human spirit, to the ecstasy of wilderness, and to their tender overlapping.

Vesaas writes beautifully about the natural world, but he presents it as a frequently harsh and brutal place. Early in the book, one character encounters a crane, and a sublime passage about the grace with which birds move gives way to something much more visceral ... There's beauty to be found outdoors, but it's not without its horrors.The conflicted role of humans in nature is a familiar theme, but few narratives hum with the surreal power of this one.

This final work by one of Norway’s most significant writers of the 20th century has the abstract, colorist strangeness of Matisse’s late wall-hangings. What would happen if landscape entirely superseded people (as if this doesn’t happen when we die). Here’s a beautiful, arresting answer.

John Freeman Lithub

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

Just as one should write a note to an old teacher whose guidance becomes increasingly meaningful as the years go by, one should pay homage to those writers who have brought enjoyment and healing. Tarjei Vesaas belongs to them.
Brita K. Stendahl

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

Daily Telegraph

A rare mixture of creative vitality, conviction and artistry.

The Guardian

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.