Roy Jacobsen, Don Bartlett, Don Shaw
Mr B's review
A story of subsistence survival with a location that is the very definition of isolation. Barroy is a harsh barren island off the Norwegian coast consisting of five fields and one weather-beaten house. The young and endlessly resilient Ingrid struggles to cope with her father’s long absences during fishing season, the unpredictability of her sister Barbro and her fragile mother. An exploration of a tough, salty and sometimes exhilarating childhood during which Ingrid somehow never loses her love of home.
Shortlisted for the Man Booker International Prize and the Dublin Literary Award
“An absolute masterpiece. Packed with understated emotion, stunning from beginning to end” Courttia Newland, author of A River Called Time
“A masterful and moving work of literature” Kiran Millwood Hargrave, author of The Mercies
“Easily among the best books I have ever read” Eileen Battersby, Irish Times
“A beautifully crafted novel . . . Quite simply a brilliant piece of work” Charlie Connolly, New European
“A blunt, brilliant book” Tom Graham, Financial Times
Nobody can leave an island. An island is a cosmos in a nutshell, where the stars slumber in the grass beneath the snow. But occasionally someone tries . . .
Ingrid Barroy is born on an island that bears her name – a holdfast for a single family, their livestock, their crops, their hopes and dreams.
Her father dreams of building a quay that will connect them to the mainland, but closer ties to the wider world come at a price. Her mother has her own dreams – more children, a smaller island, a different life – and there is one question Ingrid must never ask her.
Island life is hard, a living scratched from the dirt or trawled from the sea, so when Ingrid comes of age, she is sent to the mainland to work for one of the wealthy families on the coast.
But Norway too is waking up to a wider world, a modern world that is capricious and can be cruel. Tragedy strikes, and Ingrid must fight to protect the home she thought she had left behind.
Translated from the Norwegian by Don Bartlett and Don Shaw
Roy Jacobsen at his very best . . . A fantastic novel. * Dagbladet. * This is simply a beautiful and moving read . . . A master’s hand turning the small into the great. * V.G. * A modern masterpiece . . . A central novel in Norwegian literature. * Klassekampen. * The subtle translation, with its invented dialect, conveys a timeless, provincial voice . . . The Unseen is a blunt, brilliant book. — Tom Graham * Financial Times. * A profound interrogation of freedom and fate, as well as a fascinating portrait of a vanished time, written in prose as clear and washed clean as the world after a storm. — Justine Jordan * Guardian. * A beautifully crafted novel . . . Quite simply a brilliant piece of work . . . Rendered beautifully into English by Don Bartlett and Don Shaw, The Unseen is a towering achievement that would be a deserved Booker International winner. — Charlie Connolly * New European. * Even by his high standards, his magnificent new novel The Unseen is Jacobsen’s finest to date, as blunt as it is subtle and is easily among the best books I have ever read. — Eileen Battersby * Irish Times. *
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