cover image Girls Against God

Girls Against God

Jenny Hval, trans. from the Norweigan by Marjam Idriss. Verso, $19.95 trade paper (240p) ISBN 978-1-78873-895-8

Hval’s incendiary genre-bending novel (after Paradise Rot) is part meditation on art, sexuality, religion, and feminist theory, and part supernatural horror. In the present, the narrator watches a documentary about a black metal band shot in 1990 and reflects on her girlhood in southern Norway in the early 1990s, when she yearned to express hatred for the fundamental Christian culture that surrounded her (“When they say ‘I’m a pRacticing chRistian’ their guttural Rs make it sound as though the consonants have gone through purgatory”). In college, she resists the oppression of academia and a male-dominated music scene. Seeing no path to becoming a performer in the male-dominated black metal scene, the narrator forms a coven in Oslo, with whom she performs and documents rituals such as sacrificing “art-babies” made on a 3-D printer and bathing in a ram’s urine. Throughout, Hval, an experimental musician herself, employs a dirge-like repetition of themes (feminist rage prominent among them), which enlivens her witchy visions and sets the stage for a reincarnated Edvard Munch, on the run from the vengeful subject of his painting Puberty. Hval’s fascinating exploration is not for the faint of heart, but those who like it dark will find this right up their alley. (Oct.)