An extract from Is Mother Dead by Vigdis Hjorth, translated by Charlotte Barslund
In Vigdis Hjorth’s novel, a widowed, middle-aged artist returns home to her mother’s house, after decades of acrimonious absence, setting both women on edge
‘To mother is to murder, or close enough,’ thinks Johanna, as she looks at the spelling of the two words in Norwegian.
Recently widowed, Johanna is back in Oslo after a long absence to prepare for a retrospective of her art. The subject of her work is motherhood and some of her more controversial paintings have brought about a dramatic rift between parent and child.
This new proximity, after decades of acrimonious absence, set both women on edge. Before too long, Johanna finds her mother stalking her thoughts, and herself stalking her mother’s house.
Is Mother Dead was longlisted for the International Booker Prize 2023, announced on March 14 2023.
About the AuthorVigdis Hjorth is a prize-winning, and best-selling, author and essayist.
About the TranslatorCharlotte Barslund is a hugely experienced translator of Scandinavian novels and plays.
This is a dark, chilling book. One of its tricks is to rely on a narrator who is an anti-heroine, and who can be annoying because of her narcissism and her malice. That’s what makes her real and what makes us care about her.