Biography

With the publication of the novel Hakk (Cut) in 1994, Hanne Ørstavik (b. 1969) embarked on a career that would make her one of the most remarkable and admired authors in Norwegian contemporary literature. Her literary breakthrough came three years later with the publication of Love, which in 2006 was voted one of Norway’s Top Ten book of the last twenty-five years. Love was published to acclaim by And Other Stories in 2019. Upon the novel’s US publication, it won the PEN Translation Prize and was a finalist for the National Book Award. Ørstavik has also won a number of prizes in Norway, including the prestigious Brage Prize. Ti Amo is her fifteenth novel.

Reviews


The Spectator

‘Tender, anguished and truthful, Ti Amo recalls a line from a novel by Duras I read years ago: “There are no holidays from love” – as most of us discover, sooner or later.’


Kirkus Reviews, starred review

‘The novel shares a compassionate vision, bridging the gulf between the one who will go on and the one who will not ... A remarkably frank and finely sieved account of two people approaching the ultimate parting of the ways.’


Morgenbladet

‘What do we really talk about when we talk about “truth” in literature? Ørstavik’s painful book on grief provides rich answers. Thoughtful and – even for her – enormously raw, Ørstavik accomplishes an astonishing amount in very few pages.’


Aftenposten

‘An exceptionally good novel about grieving and waiting . . . Ørstavik writes so well that the book feels essential, timeless and universal.’


Information

‘Ørstavik writes mercilessly and beautifully about losing her husband. This little novel is a heart-breaking gem. Ti Amo is an endlessly sorrowful novel, but it's written with such forceful presence, a kind of wonder and tenderness towards life and a celebration of love, that you can’t help but feel enriched by reading it. It’s very hard and very beautiful.’


Klassekampen

‘One of the most powerful things about the book is its description of the process of losing someone to illness. The time it takes. That it’s possible to feel bereaved even before death arrives . . . It’s exhausting reading, breathless in its resignation . . . And then, midway through the book, there is a turning point. This is where the book really grabbed me, catching me off guard, brilliantly. Without revealing too much, I will say that it’s one of life’s ambushes deep down in the valley of death, equal parts dream and taboo, possible and impossible, an incident that gives grief a nuance it can probably only have for those who have stared into its eyes long enough.’  


Klassekampen, Best of 2020

‘This little novel from Ørstavik opens up spaces full of emotion and wise thoughts about life, love and death. All we can do is say thank you, and enter.’


Adresseavisen, #1 on the Best of 2020 list

‘Hanne Ørstavik has written perhaps her finest novel about her life’s greatest loss.’  

Astrid Fosvold
Vårt Land, Best of 2020

‘With Ti Amo, Hanne Ørstavik rediscovers the intensity and presence of her first novel Love. Ti Amo explores the liminal experiences that a novel can contain. At the same time we see her oeuvre from a new perspective. It’s a powerful novel about loving, and her best in a long time.’


Adresseavisen, 6/6 stars

‘A tender novel about losing your closest one to cancer. Perceptive, thoughtful and brilliantly written . . . [Ørstavik’s] novels are characterised by her use of language and words to create identity. She has never done it as successfully and satisfyingly as now . . . above all it’s a beautiful novel. About love in a real sense.’


Vårt Land

‘What is true? What is real? How do you get inside another human being? These questions have been central throughout Hanne Ørstavik’s work. In her latest novel, Ti Amo, in a story which is her own, she takes these questions to another level . . . Ørstavik has an impressive ability to expose a person’s inner world, to find a way in to where it hurts the most and explore complex experiences in simple prose, without everything falling apart.’


Praise for Hanne Ørstavik's Love

‘Perfectly poised . . . Ørstavik builds a cinematic sense of dread out of the plainest prose, phrase layered on phrase with the hushed implacability of falling snow.’ Justine Jordan, The Guardian ‘Ørstavik's mastery of perspective and clean, crackling sentences prevent sentimentality or sensationalism from trailing this story of a woman and her accidentally untended child. Both of them long for love, but the desire lines of the book are beautifully crooked. Jon wants his mother, and to be let in out of the cold . . . the cold that seems a character throughout this excellent novel of near misses.’ Claire Vaye Watkins, New York Times ‘Hanne Ørstavik’s utterly memorable, devastating little book was first published in Norway in 1997. Available in English for the first time, in Martin Aitken’s admirably clear translation, it might as well have been written yesterday: it has been preserved in fabular ice. The writing is beautifully precise and packed with meaning.’ Toby Lichtig, Times Literary Supplement ‘An achingly sad, unsentimental story . . . For a short novel that spans only a few hours in time . . . Ørstavik brings us remarkably close to both her characters, shifting effortlessly between them in stark, lucid prose.’ Sarah Gilmartin, Irish Times ‘[A] haunting masterpiece . . . The deceptively simple novel is slow-burning, placing each character into situations associated with horror – entering an unfamiliar house, accepting a ride from a stranger—and the result is a magnificent tale.’ Publishers Weekly, starred review ‘Love can change everything. And it does in this edgy, elegiac and beautifully written novel . . . What you think will happen doesn't – and what does breaks your heart.’ Kerri Arsenault, Oprah.com ‘Love does not disappoint. I was immediately lost to it, hooked within two pages, and already anxious about what was in store for the two convincingly drawn leads . . . If you can pull yourself away from this evocative, affecting and expertly woven tale before you find out what happens, you’re made of tougher stuff than me.’ Jane Graham, Big Issue ‘I was transported . . . the interior lives of both characters are so delicately expressed, with such a light hand, and this huge, powerful emotional impact.’ Ellah Watakama Allfrey ‘I thought [the characters] were drawn absolutely beautifully.’ Christopher Frayling ‘An extraordinary novel.’ Kathryn Hughes ‘Ørstavik’s writing is shrapnel sharp as she carves out a nuanced portrait of queasy love told through slithers that is eerie in its estrangement and quietly devastating in its loneliness.’ Katie Goh, The Skinny  

Karl Ove Knausgaard

‘Love is Hanne Ørstavik’s strongest book.’

Sarah Gilmartin
Irish Times

'An achingly sad, unsentimental story . . . For a short novel that spans only a few hours in time . . . Ørstavik brings us remarkably close to both her characters, shifting effortlessly between them in stark, lucid prose.'

Anita Felicelli
Los Angeles Review of Books

‘[I]n Love, the closeness of the perspectives, the cramming of them together, as if the mother and son are one person, and yet clearly not, feels less about narrative, and more about the limitations of love. We think we know another person, we feel settled in another person, and yet, perhaps every other consciousness is entirely a mystery. That’s the power of this particular book. The tiny emotional and atmospheric shifts are often barely perceptible, and yet they add up to much more.’

Claire Vaye Watkins
The New York Times

‘Ørstavik's mastery of perspective and clean, crackling sentences prevent sentimentality or sensationalism from trailing this story of a woman and her accidentally untended child. Both of them long for love, but the desire lines of the book are beautifully crooked. Jon wants his mother, and to be let in out of the cold...the cold that seems a character throughout this excellent novel of near misses.’


Publishers Weekly, starred review

‘[A] haunting masterpiece... The deceptively simple novel is slow-burning, placing each character into situations associated with horror—entering an unfamiliar house, accepting a ride from a stranger—and the result is a magnificent tale.’


Kirkus Reviews

‘Prizewinning Norwegian Ørstavik follows the parallel courses of a single mother and her 8-year-old son during a night that moves unrelentingly toward tragedy... A nightmarish sense of impending doom hangs over these carefully detailed, tightly controlled pages... icy cold to the core.’

Barbara Hoffert
Library Journal

‘[A] creeping sense of unease is racheted up by the cool, lucid prose and how the paragraphs shift between mother and son, clarifying how close they should be and how close they aren’t... Multi-award winner Ørstavik offers an unsettling read that most will enjoy.’

Kerri Arsenault
Oprah.com

‘Love can change everything. And it does in this edgy, elegiac and beautifully written novel...What you think will happen doesn't—and what does breaks your heart.’

M.Bartley Seigel
Words Without Borders

‘What was so striking to me about this slim novel was how quiet and circumspect it was given the emotional gut punch it delivered. ‘Deceptive’ is right, sneaky even, and at the risk of falling into the trap of stereotyping Norwegian lit, the power of quietly mushrooming foreboding is strong with Ørstavik. As I happen to be flying over the dark and snowy north of Norway as I write this, looking out my window at the icy fjords below, I feel the creep, even at 35,000 feet.’

Erik Noonan
Asymptote Journal

‘Love is a beautiful novella of beguiling simplicity, and Martin Aitken’s translation has brought it over into an English that is both familiar and alien.’

Lori Feathers
World Literature Today

‘Love is a deep and vibrantly alive novel... beautifully devastating... This is not your typical love story but rather the sharp-edged account of a boy whose need for attention from his heedless mother is heartfelt and full of yearning.’

Michael Orthofer
The Complete Review

‘Love is effectively atmospheric... neatly textured with its back and forths... A disturbing little read, nicely, darkly told.’


National Book Foundation, 2018 Translated Literature Finalist

‘In Hanne Ørstavik’s Love , the equilibrium between a tense, disquieting plot and a gently experimental binary structure sustain the reader’s attention and awe from beginning to end. The aerial beauty of Martin Aitken’s translation contributes to make the novel a successful rarity: a book that is at the same time a thriller and a dense literary object. “Perfect” may be the proper adjective to describe it.’


Booksellers on Love

‘Hanne Ørstavik crafts an atmosphere of unease out of the ordinary. An old man giving a young boy a pair of skates, a man inviting a woman over for coffee, in Orstavik’s hands these seemingly harmless moments become filled with an underlying sense of dread. Longing and loneliness fill these pages, while always there is a sense of the impossibility of real understanding and connection between people. Ørstavik is a true observer of human nature and Love is her masterpiece.’ Emily Ballaine, Green Apple Books on the Park
‘Point of view works like a spot of living light in this slender book, with deft perspective shifts occurring between Vibeke, a hardworking, distracted mother, and Jon, her curious, lonely young son, on nearly every page. Mother and son are each on a separate journey, but the reader watches their whole shared life, as memories are folded expertly between breaths in Orstavik's urgent, visually vivid present tense--what a lovely shape. Nothing is wasted. And I'm astonished by the precision and poetry of Martin Aitken's translation from the Norwegian.’ Gina Balibrera, Literati Bookstore
‘Written with a precise elegance...builds to an ending as lonely as our characters. Beautiful and affecting, no word is wasted in this perfect winter read.’ Kelsey Westenberg, Pilsen Community Books

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