Welcome to America by Linda Boström Knausgård

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Welcome to America by Linda Boström Knausgård

Swedish fiction

Original title – Välkommen til Amerika

Translator – Martin Aitken

Source – review copy

I featured this on my woman in translation month covers post it is the second novel by the Swedish novelist Linda Bostrom Knaugard is the ex-wife of the Norwegian writer Karl Ove and her mother was a well known Swedish actress. She has written three novels her first glimpse of fame was a dark collection of short stories called Grand Mal.  She has bipolar which was part of a Swedish documentary about her life living with it. She has also written a daily column for a regional Swedish newspaper.

He was dead. All at once, great spaces opened inside me. Spaces the silence filed, An immense calm came over me in the beginning, and the sense that this what had always been missing.

I never let on to anyone about me, god, and my dad. That knowledge was something I had to bear myself

What else did my thought say? They lurked and pounced on me. The were noisy, and I batted the air with my hab=nds, the way you do to swat a fly

This shows how she reacted to her fathers death and the thoughts about him.

Welcome top America has a young narrator called Ellen. Her family is a strange collection her brother is barricaded in his room and is using bottles to urinate in. Her mother is an actress she is also the rock of the family and is acting as thou every in the family is normal. She struggles with her daughters silence and what she says. Ellen is under the belief she has killed her father. The father is mentally ill and he has been institutionalized and has terrorized the family for. years but he has died and the past is shown in Ellen remember how he was with them,. Ellen has stopped talking what we have is her internal monologue on those around her family of light as she says about her family this comes from her mother. Our narrator often wished her father died for the way he had made the family feel so when she prayed for him to die in a fire and that happens it sends her into a mute spiral of guilt.

Before, I would often go with my mum to the theatre. I don’t do that anymore, I hear her go lout and come back The last time I saw her perform she was a fallen statu of liberty wishing the immigrants welcome to America. She was bald, with a shard of mirror stuck on her brow. She’d lost her torch. I loved it. The way they’d made her up. The way she shone and shone on the stage. Welcome to america, Welcom to America

I felt the urge to write those exact words in my notebook. But I stopped myself. You’ve got to be strict. You can’t just follow the impulses that criss-cross the mind in their little tunnels of light.I could see my thoughts.They were everywhere

The lines she quotes are mixed up later with an image of her father saying them as well.

This is a short dark powerful book the paperback is 122 pages but or huge text and well-spaced out so is more of a novella than a novel. It shows the exploding from the child’s view when one has an abusive parent from isolation to silence in the two children and in a way with the in denial it has effect everyone. Ellen is a stark narrator she has captured that child-like view of the world very black and white and how the guilt of prayer for what would be a new life without her father there has cost her the voice and made her withdraw. The mother keeps them together but is also in denial about what happened the title is a reference to the fact she is in a play about the Statue of Liberty and this is maybe a nod to what it says on the statue “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free” Tis is just what this family need the light of liberty and the healing of liberty ! A powerful work this is like a mini-series taken down to a great trailer it seems more than it parts.

 

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