cover image Wait, Blink

Wait, Blink

Gunnhild Øyehaug, trans. from the Norwegian by Kari Dickson. Farrar, Straus and Giroux, $25 (256p) ISBN 978-0-374-28589-0

The disappointing latest from Øyehaug (following Knots), about the intersection of many lives in Norway, shuttles rapidly from character to character, sometimes for only a page before moving on. Sigrid is a young literature student hoping to distract herself from a recent breakup by throwing herself headlong into studying the trope of women who are depicted wearing oversized men’s shirts in literary and visual media. In the opening, she’s fixated on an author photo, and the novel transitions, somewhat clumsily, to the subject of the photo: older male novelist Kåre Tryvle, who has just broken up with his girlfriend, Wanda, a bassist whom he admiringly considers “the ultimate woman.” By chance, Sigrid eventually meets Kåre, and they become romantically involved, even though Kåre’s relationship with Wanda might not be over. Interspersed with Sigrid’s narrative are those of Wanda, indignant and hurt over her and Kåre’s breakup; Linnea, a young film director who’s ostensibly in Copenhagen to shoot a movie, but is more concerned with chasing the memory of an older professor with whom she had an affair; and Trine, a feminist artist who finds her art and her outlook on life changed since the birth of her daughter. As the novel progresses—motivated by pursuit of love, or at least pursuit of meaningful lives without loneliness—these women’s paths intersect and connections between them are uncovered. Suffused with cultural references, Øyehaug’s novel has intriguing characters and sharp moments, though these are let down by trite themes and uneven prose, and the book as a whole tends to blend together. (June)