The blue room by Hanne Ørstavik

blue room

The Blue room by Hanne Ørstavik

Norweigan Fiction

Original title – 

Translator – Deborah Dawkin

Source – Review copy 

oh i miss the kiss of treachery the aching kiss
before i feed the stench of a love for a younger
meat and the sound that it makes when it cuts
in deep the holding up on bended knees the
addiction of duplicities as bit by bit it starts
the need to just let go my party piece

A excerpt of Disintegration from The cure

Now when ever I get a new book from Peirene press ,it is going to be quality and a touch different from the usual books  ,now this time  Meike has chosen a Norwegian novel ,one That isn’t”Karl ove” no this  book is from Hanne Ørstavik one of the most respect female writers in Norway .She was born and grew up in the north of Norway ,moving to Oslo age 16 ,here big breakthrough came in the 90’s when here Novel Love won plaudits and was voted the sixth best Norwegian novel of all time  .This book is her first book to be translated into English .

I cannot get out .Something must have happened to the lock .I’ll have to wait until mum comes home from work to help ,me .Everything was totally normal when I went to bed last night .It was late I dropped straight off to sleep .

The opening lines as Johanne finds the bedroom door locked .

The blue room is the story of a mother and daughter .Johanne the daughter is in her mid twenties ,she has fallen head over heals for a man Ivar .Now Johannes mother is very protective of her daughter when Ivar appears on the scene telling her to wait not give herself to this man .Then there is a chance Johanne to go the US with Ivar .This is the point where the books open one morning just before she is due to leave Johanne wakes and tries to get out of her room to find her door locked too .Now this sets up the story as we drift from her in the room ,to the past as she meets Ivar and follows what her  mother did trying to work out what had happened to make her mother take this drastic step .Now we also see a sexual awakening in Johanne with Ivar ,as she discovers her self as an erotic women and fantasies about love and lovemaking .

Some guy who works in the university canteen ,I said .His name is Ivar ,but I don’t really know him .We’ve only talked briefly before today ,although he has worked there since the beginning of term .

She spotted Ivar at university she told her mother .

Now this is my last but one choice for women in translation month and a great choice ,because as a publisher Peirene published a good number of female writers most of which are first time translations  for the writers in English ,Now this book is timely in a way we had a number of case of people being locked in rooms being found the last few years and of course room ,but the actual being locked up is more a staging for the story of a young woman’s sexual awaking and what that causes also what it arouses in the Johanne and her mother .Mother and daughter relationships is something I’ve not read much over the years so reading this was a new experience for me  one I should maybe try more .but is the story  right ? Are we getting the full picture ? now we just hear Johannes views and thoughts of her life  up to this point but is she telling us the truth as her mind is drifting her there and everywhere .Then there is the mother daughter relationship that is unusual ,why is her mother the way she is with her  ?  a change from Karl Ove and his growing up to have a brief glimpse of  a woman growing up in Norway Another gem from Peirene one I will be rereading at some point maybe after I have read Meike’s own book about a mother daughter relationship Clara’s daughter that is coming out soon .Have you read this book ?

6 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. hastanton
    Aug 31, 2014 @ 19:47:37

    I am reading Clara atm …….very realistic ….Blue Room on my TBR

    Reply

  2. roughghosts
    Aug 31, 2014 @ 20:28:56

    Thanks for calling attention to this book and to the publishing house. Fortunately their titles are available as ebooks here in Canada and at excellent prices too! There are a number of titles that catch my eye. As for Norwegian literature I have not been able to muster enough energy to tackle Knausgaard (life is short) but Per Petterson is one of my favourite authors.

    Reply

  3. MarinaSofia
    Sep 01, 2014 @ 07:42:41

    I can’t say I ‘enjoyed’ this one – it was too tense and claustrophobic for that, but it was very well-written, with that menace in the background occasionally bursting to the fore.

    Reply

  4. jacquiwine
    Sep 01, 2014 @ 08:03:28

    The Blue Room is such an intriguing and unnerving book – I’m sure I’ll reread it at some point as it’s a very hard book to pin down…it leaves so much to the reader’s imagination and interpretation.

    Reply

  5. sharkell
    Sep 01, 2014 @ 11:09:30

    This sounds intriguing – I have just bought this based on your review and I hope to get to it soon.

    Reply

  6. Max Cairnduff
    Sep 09, 2014 @ 20:52:22

    It sounds interesting, but the story of a sexual awakening is about as cliched as a young writer struggling with their art, I’ve seen it a lot. It has to be done pretty incredibly well to still be interesting. The claustrophobic element could carry it over the line though I admit.

    Reply

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