cover image Days in the History of Silence

Days in the History of Silence

Merethe Lindstrøm, trans. from the Norwegian by Anne Bruce. Other Press, $14.95 trade paper (224p) ISBN 978-1-59051-595-2

Eva’s elderly husband, Simon, has gradually stopped speaking—but as she recalls their life histories, we realize his silence may not be as inexplicable as it seems. Is Simon’s muteness a product of dementia, “a kind of wasteland where one’s personality is deleted,” or a revelation of his essentially silent inner self? Eva and Simon spent a lifetime keeping secrets from their daughters, including his childhood hiding from the Nazis, and her son from another relationship given away for adoption. But silence does not erase: ghosts remain, demanding to be confronted. This remarkable novel, winner of the 2012 Nordic Council Literature Prize, explores the theme of silence in many different forms—a children’s game, a refuge, a lie, a punishment, a solution—and shows its impact on those who long to be spoken to. For Eva, shut out of Simon’s inner world, “It is not simply the feeling that he is no longer there. It is the feeling that you are not either.” Lindstrom (The Guests) works in associations and superimpositions, like “a photograph that is overexposed and shows two subjects, melding in an accidental combination. As your memories do in your consciousness.” The prose is simple and elegant, revealing an extraordinary talent. (Aug.)