cover image One of Us Is Sleeping

One of Us Is Sleeping

Josefine Klougart, trans. from the Danish by Martin Aiken. Open Letter, $15.95 ISBN 978-1-940953-37-3

A brokenhearted writer returns home to her family farm in this elegiac and disorienting novel, the author’s English-language debut. While staring out at the snow that has “upholstered everything in frost” on Denmark’s Jutland peninsula, separating the North and Baltic Seas, Klougart’s unnamed narrator obsessively recalls “pictures of the emotions” from the past eight years—foraging for False Chanterelles, a disappointing visit to Pompeii, the time her boyfriend slapped her hand to stop her from chewing her lip. Her mind also wanders to the events that followed the breakup with her boyfriend: a fling with an older man, a dreadfully uncomfortable meeting with her ex outside his used bookstore, an ill-fated attempt to start over; the timeline is muddled, but so is the writer’s mind. “She can’t remember beginning to love him, and she can’t remember stopping,” Klougart writes. “The feeling doesn’t move like that, forward or backward. It exists.” Mystifying, certainly, but Klougart’s graceful and precise language propels the novel through a succession of images that justify the vagueness of that feeling, what is eventually described as something akin to “separating an egg, passing the yolk from hand to hand, the fragile yolk that might break at any moment.” This is a beguiling conjuring of consciousness. (July)