Translated from by

Published: Coming February 13, 2018

ISBN: 978-0914671-94-7

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Book Description

Love is the story of a single mother, Vibeke, and her son Jon, who have just moved to a remote small town in the north of Norway. It’s the day before Jon’s birthday, but with concerns of her own, Vibeke has forgotten this. With a man on her mind, she ventures to the local library while Jon goes out to sell lottery tickets for his sports club. From here on we follow the two individuals on their separate journeys through a cold winter’s night, their experiences nevertheless linked in seamless narrative. The reader is privy to each character’s intimate thoughts as suspense builds and tragedy looms.

Love is Hanne Ørstavik’s strongest book.

Karl Ove Knausgaard

[Ørstavik] gives nothing away for free, there is no overdriven emotion, no sentimentality nor pandering to her public. . . . But thanks to a language rich in its precision, with no loss of simplicity, it becomes an experience to follow her to her conclusion. One knows that one has read something substantial which one would not wish to be without.

Love explores the insurmountable distance between people, the elementary impenetrability of them, and tells us about the difficulty of reading the signals of others. In short, dry sentences, Ørstavik relates all the postponed, the possibilities that hang over our lives.


In this swift, elegantly constructed novel, Hanne Ørstavik masterfully conveys a sense of entwined dread and longing that doesn’t let up for a second. From the opening page to the powerfully moving finale, this tale of a mother and son is riveting. The characters’ inner lives are illumined by a beautiful eeriness, and the translation’s precision and clarity do justice to the novel’s intensities. Read it: it’ll bat around your brain for a long time afterward.

Martha Cooley

Prizewinning Norwegian Ørstavik follows the parallel courses of a single mother and her 8-year-old son during a night that moves unrelentingly toward tragedy... A nightmarish sense of impending doom hangs over these carefully detailed, tightly controlled pages... icy cold to the core.

Kirkus Reviews

Point of view works like a spot of living light in this slender book, with deft perspective shifts occurring between Vibeke, a hardworking, distracted mother, and Jon, her curious, lonely young son, on nearly every page. Mother and son are each on a separate journey, but the reader watches their whole shared life, as memories are folded expertly between breaths in Orstavik's urgent, visually vivid present tense--what a lovely shape. Nothing is wasted. And I'm astonished by the precision and poetry of Martin Aitken's translation from the Norwegian.

Gina Balibrera, Literati Bookstore

In an interview with Romanian critic Silvia Dumitrache, Ørstavik discusses how her own experiences being a single mother informed the writing of Love.

Translator Martin Aitken discusses the urge that compelled him to leave academia for the world of literary translation in an interview for the Santa Fe Writers Project, Translator’s Cut.

“The novel is as tightly constructed as a box, and this is as sly a bit of unreliable narration as I have read in a long while,” writes Nicholas Lezard, literary critic for The Guardian in this review where he handpicks Ørstavik’s English debut, The Blue Room, translated from the Norwegian by Deborah Dawkin, as one of the best paperbacks of 2014.

Read an excerpt from Ørstavik’s The Blue Room.

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