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Hillary's May 2014 pick
The Cold Song, by Linn Ullmann
Linn Ullman is the daughter of the great actress-director couple Liv Ullman and Ingmar Bergman, and her sensibility seems very much a product of her parentage. The Cold Song is plotted around the murder of a nanny, 19 year-old Milla, but its unknowns are not who committed the crime or why. Rather, Ullman examines the mysteriousness of her characters to those who love them and, ultimately, to themselves. Told from many points of view – Simen, the young boy who discovers Milla’s body; Jon, Milla’s novelist employer who cheats on his wife to avoid his writer’s block; Siri, his successful chef wife, filled with fury at her husband; Jenny, the formidable matriarch who tries to drink away guilts both old and new; 12 year-old Alma, the ungainly child with a fierce need for truth; and doomed Milla herself. Even in translation, Ullman’s prose glows. --Hillary
“Elegant and incisive, The Cold Song exposes a complex family drama that revolves around the day a beautiful young woman goes missing. When she is found murdered, her family members must sort out their suspicions of one another and question their own degrees of responsibility for her death. This novel is a startling meditation on loss, how we deal with it, how it echoes through generations, and how our mistakes cause us to lose the ones we love.”
— Jenny Patino Cervantes, City Lit, Chicago, IL
A New York Times Book Review Notable Book of 2014“Ullmann’s voice on the page is a lean, tough-minded thing, scrubbed and scoured of sentimentality straight through to the final, Carveresque pages, in which she pulls off an 11th- hour radiance, a tonal shift from minor to major key. The novel’s charm lies in these idiosyncratic glints, these glimmers of queer wit, uncensored scorn or sudden, unstinting sympathy.” —New York Times Book Review"Ullmann is very good at evoking the peculiar, charged stasis of a household in which mentally active and intellectually vital people are resolutely failing to communicate with each other—the loneliness of communality, in short. She is a very exact writer, who is unsparing of her characters: a tonic, sharp, lyrical, intelligent novelist who deserves to be better-known in English." —The New Yorker Page-Turner Blog
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