Lead Review

  • Book: Ankomst
  • Location: Norway
  • Author: Gøhril Gabrielsen

Review Author: tripfiction



Another beautifully produced novella from boutique publisher, Peirene Press. 50p from the sale of each book goes to charity. The book itself is a thing of beauty and quality, the paper sustainably sourced and has lovely jacket flaps, which are so rare these days (but maybe, across the board, I spot the dawn of a comeback for those, I think!).

An unnamed woman – a scientist – heads out to carry out research in inhospitable northern Norway, where she is examining the impact of climate change on the bird population. She is transported, along with her food requirements for several weeks and incarcerates herself in a primitive cabin. Water for her personal needs is sourced from melt water, she has the bare necessities.

She talks on occasion, when connectivity permits, to her lover Jo. He is back home looking after his own daughter. The scientist, too, has a daughter who she has left being behind, cared for by her previous partner. The latter, however, was controlling during their relationship, so why she felt comfortable leaving her daughter with him is something that niggles away at her (and at the reader, I must say). Jo, her current partner has voiced concern at her willingness to up sticks and disappear from her (and his) life.

She discovers the traumatic life of a family, not far from where she is based, who lived 140 years ago. As the days move on, the family becomes more real and she imagines their life. They somehow keep her anchored.

I think this novella really gets the reader pondering what a life might be like with no outside stimulus, no human contact, no real colour. Left to one’s own thoughts, in the slurry of reminiscence and experience, how can one keep one’s sanity?

This is a beautiful piece of prose, translated by Deborah Dawkin. Recommended if you want a read that is equivalent in length to a film.

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