An utterly strange and beguiling magic-realist mystery that creates a feminine compliment to Kafka's fiction: a woman blessed/cursed with fantastically powered hair unravels the enigmatic death of her mother. A thoughtful meditation on body & beauty that's also a clever, dark, fun contemporary folk tale. For fans of Helen Oyeyemi (Boy, Snow, Bird) & Lydia Yuknavich (Book of Joan).— From Jonathan's Picks
From the internationally best-selling author of Purge and When the Doves Disappeared, a spellbinding new novel set in present-day Helsinki, about a young woman with a fantastical secret who is trying to solve the mystery of her mother's death.
When Anita Naakka jumps in front of an oncoming train, her daughter, Norma, is left alone with the secret they have spent their lives hiding: Norma has supernatural hair, sensitive to the slightest changes in her mood--and the moods of those around her--moving of its own accord, corkscrewing when danger is near. And so it is her hair that alerts her, while she talks with a strange man at her mother's funeral, that her mother may not have taken her own life. Setting out to reconstruct Anita's final months--sifting through puzzling cell phone records, bank statements, video files--Norma begins to realize that her mother knew more about her hair's powers than she let on: a sinister truth beyond Norma's imagining. As Sofi Oksanen leads us ever more deeply into Norma's world, weaving together past and present, she gives us a dark family drama that is a searing portrait of both the exploitation of women's bodies and the extremes to which people will go for the sake of beauty.
About the Author
SOFI OKSANEN is a Finnish-Estonian novelist and playwright. She has received numerous prizes for her work, including the Swedish Academy Nordic Prize, the Prix Femina, the Budapest Grand Prize, the European Book Prize, and the Nordic Council Literature Prize. She lives in Helsinki. Translated from the Finnish by Owen Witesman.
“The reading experience is pure pleasure . . . Norma is not only the story of a young woman and her identity, both perched on the outskirts of the ordinary, but also a suspenseful mystery.” —Turun Sanomat (Finland)
“Sofi Oksanen is one of the brightest shining stars in Nordic literature . . . I want to devour Norma whole—and at the same time pause to make it last longer. Oksanen is simply fantastic, and here she is at her best.” —Norrköpings Tidningar (Sweden)
“True to herself, Oksanen denounces a globalization that turns human beings into merchandise . . . A hair-raising novel.” —Livres Hebdo (France)
“A peculiar and disturbing novel that evokes the universe of filmmaker David Cronenberg . . . Norma impresses as much as it sends shivers down our spines.” —Lire (France)
“Norma is an urgent story of beauty ideals, fertility, and women’s vulnerability to exploitation . . . There is something tough and inexorable about Sofi Oksanen: she grabs the reader and demands we listen.” —VLT (Sweden)
“Hold on tight, because this is the best novel you will read this fall.” ★★★★★★ —Femina (Denmark)