Born in 1905 to Norwegian parents in Buenos Aires, Norah Lange was a key figure in the Argentine avant-garde of the early to mid-twentieth century. Though she began her career writing poetry in the ultraísta mode of urban modernism, her first major success came in 1937 with her memoir Notes from Childhood, followed by the companion memoir Before They Die, and the novels People in the Room and The Two Portraits. She contributed to the magazines Proa and Martín Fierro, and was a friend to figures such as Jorge Luis Borges, Pablo Neruda, and Federico García Lorca. From her teenage years, when her family home became the site of many literary gatherings, Norah was a mainstay of the Buenos Aires literary scene, and was famous for the flamboyant speeches she gave at parties in celebration of her fellow writers. She travelled widely alone and with her husband, the poet Oliverio Girondo, always returning to Buenos Aires, where she wrote in the house they shared, and where they continued to host legendary literary gatherings. She died in 1972.
‘[Lange’s] stark, dreamy and often morbid observations that read like windows into the soul . . . Eccentric and obsessive, Lange reveals herself to be a born surrealist, examining and interpreting situations and people from elliptical angles.’
‘A muse to the young Jorge Luis Borges and Oliverio Girondo, Norah Lange was herself a profoundly gifted writer, one capable of drawing her readers back in time, plunging you into a lost world of soulful horseback riding on the pampas and bucolic women’s sewing rooms. Her Notes from Childhood is an endearing, mesmerising, unforgettable masterpiece through which we can see anew the private history of women in Latin America. Read Norah and be bewitched.’
‘One of the most beautiful and luminous books of childhood memoirs ever written in Latin America, so rich in the genre.’
‘The postcards of gender construction in Notes from Childhood are a delight . . . as is her exquisite prose. The fact that Lange has been considered a secondary figure speaks only of the strict hierarchy of themes that regulated, and in my opinion, continues to regulate entry into the canon.’
‘The apparently peaceful realm of childhood where the book was set concealed the fact that the text turned memories of a life into a literary investigation, the setting of childhood into an often disturbing laboratory.’
Praise for People in the Room
‘The first English translation of a 1950 work by the groundbreaking Argentinian author is darkly irresistible . . . Combining painterly qualities with poetic imagery, Lange’s prose is rich in metaphor.’ The Guardian
‘Hallucinatory and unsettling, the prose vibrates like a high-tension wire . . . the brilliance of the language, and the shifting perspectives transform what at first seems banal into something mesmerising and tragic . . . a picture of suffocating isolation and voyeurism, Hitchcock without a murder.’ Lee Langley, The Spectator
‘Intimate and vital . . . this is an exquisite novel, full of light, shadows, and profound revelations.’ Samanta Schweblin
‘The first English translation of a 1950 work by the groundbreaking Argentinian author is darkly irresistible ... Combining painterly qualities with poetic imagery, Lange’s prose is rich in metaphor'
‘Hallucinatory and unsettling, the prose vibrates like a high-tension wire . . . the brilliance of the language, and the shifting perspectives transform what at first seems banal into something mesmerising and tragic . . . a picture of suffocating isolation and voyeurism, Hitchcock without a murder.’
‘Intimate and vital … this is an exquisite novel, full of light, shadows, and profound revelations.’
‘A beautiful and mesmerizing modernist experiment . . . The writing is crisp and direct, in stark contrast to the intricate psychological darkness the narrator inhabits, and it leaves the reader questioning every detail. Unsettling and masterful, this short but dense novel should entice fans of literary giants like Virginia Woolf and Clarice Lispector.’
'Short, poetic, and alluring . . . Readers who like unreliable protagonists and enjoy being kept on their toes will be up for the challenge.'
‘Female experience in all its isolate weirdness as narrated by a voyeuristic woman with a sensuous sensibility. I want to trust this woman but I don’t, which makes People in the Room all the scarier.’
‘Deathly scenes from a wax museum come to life, in a closed, feminine world.’
‘PEOPLE IN THE ROOM brings to mind the alluring uncertainty of Shirley Jackson's Hangsaman, the imaginative intensity of adolescence transformed into masterful fiction.’
'Lange deftly updates a classic fairy tale motif into this cryptic, telling, spellbinding piece of modernist writing.'
‘With her singular, powerful voice and her radical turnings of the screw of detective fiction, Lange joins a wave of classic women writers including Clarice Lispector and Leonora Carrington whose rediscovery has altered the terrain of Latin American literature.’
‘Lange breaks the canon that was suffocating women writers at the beginning of the twentieth century.’
‘Only the dominant machismo of her era meant that Norah Lange was usually noted more for her Norwegian beauty than for her stature as a great writer. In People in the Room, Lange’s intensity and clarity are reminiscent of Virginia Woolf’s finest moments in Mrs Dalloway.’