"Its hard to find clothes to fit the body you have, and its hard to find words to fit the people you love."
I'd been meaning to pick this book up since I first read the Man Booker International 2017 shortlist but it wasn't until a surreptitious visit to the library last week that I actually got my hands on the book. Its a thin novel, only 139 pages, which in my world means I start straight away.
Misha Hoekstra's translation seems natural and I'm quickly immersed in the fantastic characters Nors creates from the instructors at the driving school to Sonja's sage like masseuse who add depth and dimension to this lyrical story about a woman who can't move forward in life. Sonja's circumstances will resonate with audiences everywhere but the interplay between her urban life in Copenhagen and her family in provincial Jutland is particularly Danish; "..its tricky making yourself invisible in a world that's as flat as a pancake".
What's so clever in Mirror, Shoulder, Signal is the amount of story Nors packs into so few pages. Sonja goes on a real journey through the novel but the way Nors reduces this to the simple conflict around changing gears in a driving lesson is a masterclass in precision writing. Mirror, Shoulder, Signal, deserves a place in the Danish Design Centre alongside Arne Jacobson's minimal yet elegant Egg Chair.
Great job (again) Pushkin Press for publishing new and innovative writing from around the world and thank you (again) Oxfordshire Libraries for your well endowed stacks!
I read this novel in paperback mostly over a weekend at home in Oxfordshire.
Mirror, Shoulder, Signal by Dorthe Nors and translated by Misha Hoekstra, published by Pushkin Press, 139 pages.
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