Is Mother Dead by Vigdis Hjorth

Is Mother Dead by Vigdis Hjorth
Translated by Charlotte Barslund

Is Mother Dead is a deep dive into the perseverations of a damaged, mentally ill, and creepy 60 year-old woman attempting to re-establish contact with her mother and her sister after 30 years of estrangement. Johanna has moved back to Norway and has taken up stalking her mum, sitting for hours in front of her apartment waiting for a sighting. Johanna follows her mum to the tram stop, church and to the graveyard, and throws snowballs at her window, all in a bid to get her mother’s attention.

This book takes place almost entirely within Johanna’s mind and the prose, rife with commas, and questions, gives us a bit of insight into her delusions and obsessions, many of which focus on a strict childhood devoid of love and warmth. Johanna comes from generational trauma, raised by a mother who self-harmed to deal with her own pain.

suffering is a link that brings a magical pleasure happiness can never deliver.

This is my first read from the 2023 Booker Prize International long list.