cover image Welcome to America

Welcome to America

Linda Boström Knausgärd, trans. from the Swedish by Martin Aitken. World Editions, $15.99 trade paper (160p) ISBN 978-1-64286-041-2

This lean, moving novel from Knausgärd (The Helios Disaster) explores the inner life of a child who has decided to stop talking. When the story begins, adolescent Ellen reveals that she prayed for her mentally ill father to die, just before he died. The family is still in recovery. Her brother is abusive—some early scenes of physical violence are disturbing—and her mother, an attractive actress, oscillates through the house with giddy energy. The action tracks a tumultuous school year, as the girl’s brother and mother each meet a new love and Ellen sinks ever deeper into the stubborn muteness of her own making. There are sequences of happy memories, but the girl’s father is a specter lurking in the background. The narrative is borderline stream-of-consciousness, with hallucinations mingling with reality, forcing readers to constantly question what they are told. Knausgärd is an impressive writer, and she has created a unique, powerful lead in a world all her own. (Sept.)