cover image Quake


Auður Jónsdóttir, trans. from the Icelandic by Meg Matich. Dottir, $17.95 trade paper (264p) ISBN 978-1-948340-16-8

Jónsdóttir’s powerful story of memory, identity, and the legacy of violence, her English-language debut, chronicles a woman’s recovery from an epileptic seizure. Saga, mother to a three-year-old son named Ívar, wakes from a grand mal seizure with very little memory of her life. After she returns home, where her brother, sister, and parents watch over her, she tries to hide just how much of her memory she’s lost. As small details resurface, such as a vision of the bus shelter where she was waiting with Ívar and had the seizure, any negative memories that arise cause great pain (“Did Ívar chase after the bus?” she wonders, as her mouth fills with the taste of blood). All of this causes her picture of the past to darken with ominous blank spots. She does not know why she and her ex-husband, Bergur, are separated, nor what secrets from her family’s past caused her mother to go missing in the days following her seizure. By telling Saga’s jagged story in intimate narration, Jónsdóttir invites the reader to piece together the haunting memories and tragic realities alongside the main character. By the end, this becomes a gripping quest for the truth of what lies between the surface and what those around Saga have chosen to forget. The limited perspective and acute sense of the narrator’s pain, both ingeniously rendered, make this unforgettable. (Feb.)