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  • Writer's pictureHuda Fatima

Literature from Around the World: Norway

READING LITERATURE FROM AROUND THE WORLD: EPISODE 1.

PREFACE:

This idea has been brewing in my mind for a couple of months so I thought what better day to start on than a random Tuesday at 11 pm?


Each month I will be challenging myself to read a book from a new country. To kick off this challenge, I put my Snapchat AI to use and asked him to name a random country. It chose Norway, and hence here we are.


Since I am too broke to visit these countries, I am ecstatic to be reading these books, for what better way to teleport from one place to another than with the help of words on a page?


The book I chose for Norway is The Ice Palace by Tarjei Vasaas. A Nordic Council Literature Award Winner, The Ice Palace is a well-known representative of Scandinavian literature. It follows the story of two 11-year-old girls, Unn and Siss, and the devastating effect of the sudden disappearance of Unn.



The poetic writing, compelling plot, and eerie tone of this story make it very easy and quick to read. The fascinating descriptions of the icy Norwegian landscape make the reader feel as if they're walking along the frozen lake with Siss and exploring the Ice Palace with Unn.

The darkness at the sides of the road. It possesses neither form nor name, but whoever passes here knows when it comes out and follows after and sends shudders like rippling streams down his back.

Divided into sections, the book is catalyzed by the mysterious disappearance of Unn and the psychological effect it has on Siss. "The Ice Palace" is a brilliant metaphor for how Siss feels after Unn's disappearance: like an emotionless sculpture made of ice. The book isn't long enough to develop an opinion on Siss or Unn, but I liked Siss a lot during the entirety of it. I admired her loyalty to Unn despite knowing close to nothing about her (although that is also the reason her loyalty felt a bit far-fetched; because she knew nothing about Unn). Auntie was a very suspicious character throughout. We weren't given enough information about Auntie or Unn, which is something I would have loved to receive. Also, it was cool to see the word "auntie" used, I thought it was mainly an Eastern term. The entire book felt like a Norwegian take on Studio Ghibli and I am not complaining. Despite the storyline being slow sometimes, the enchanting descriptions of the changing seasons of this small Scandinavian town were enough for one to keep reading.


The entire book is a metaphor, so it is one of those which require 100% of your time and thoughts while you read it if you want to understand it. If you're into Literary Fiction, this book is for you.


The Ice Palace was a solid start to this new reading journey. I am so beyond excited to explore other cultures and writing styles through different books written by different authors. I am also looking forward to reading more books from Norwegian authors.


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Overall rating: 3 stars :D



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