"The Unseen" by Roy Jacobsen

By Jacobsen, Roy

Reviewed by Julia

ISBN 9781771963190

In startlingly direct and poetic prose, Norwegian author Jacobsen tells the story of young girl coming of age on a tiny northern island inhabited by only her small family and animals.  Descriptions of weather, tactile sensations and emotions are so beautifully rendered, readers will find themselves transported to the stillness and simplicity of this stark landscape. This book reaches all senses, including the heart, taking us through birth and death with the straightforwardness of days lived in direct relationship to land, unencumbered by gratuity, but not without the weight of living.
I loved the layers of family that have emerged by the end of the book, and the way either leaving the island or this earth usher in new dimensions to individual characters, group dynamics, and footsteps to fill.  I found myself paying much more attention that I would expect of myself to the most minute of changes.  Jacobsen is incredibly talented at conveying deep resonant emotions out of simple sentence structure.  In some ways the book felt like a long short story, if that makes any sense.  The first in a duology - I'm looking forward to the next.  A gorgeous, unexpected read!

Shortlisted for the 2017 International Man Booker and the 2018 IMPAC Dublin Literary Award, The Unseen has been a bestseller in Norway (200,000+ copies in print) and sold into more than 23 countries and 40 languages. Will be released in the U.S. April 7, 2020.

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