Today it’s a pleasure to kick off the BlogTour for The Seven Doors by Agnes Avatn, translated by Rosie Hedger.
One of Norway’s most distinguished voices, Agnes Ravatn’s first novel to be published in the UK was The Bird Tribunal. It won an English PEN Translation Award, was shortlisted for the Dublin Literary Award and the Petrona Award, and was adapted for a BBC Book at Bedtime. She returns now with a dark, powerful and deeply disturbing psychological thriller about family, secrets and dangerous curiosity…
About the Author
Agnes Ravatn (b. 1983) is a Norwegian author and columnist. She made her literary début with the novel Week 53 (Veke 53) in 2007. Since then she has written three critically acclaimed and award-winning essay collections: Standing still (Stillstand), 2011, Popular Reading (Folkelesnad), 2011, and Operation self-discipline (Operasjon sjøldisiplin), 2014. In these works, Ravatn revealed a unique, witty voice and sharp eye for human fallibility.
Her second novel, The Bird Tribunal (Fugletribuanlet), was an international bestseller translated into fifteen languages, winning an English PEN Award, shortlisting for the Dublin Literary Award, a WHSmith Fresh Talent pick and a BBC Book at Bedtime. It was also made into a successful play, which premiered in Oslo in 2015. Agnes lives with her family in the Norwegian countryside.
About the translator
Rosie Hedger was born in Scotland and completed her MA (Hons) in Scandinavian Studies at the University of Edinburgh. She has lived and worked in Norway, Sweden and Denmark, and now lives n York where she works as a frelance translator. Rosie translated Agnes Ravatn’s The Bird Tribunal for Orenda Books and her translation of Gine Cordelia Pedersens’s Zero was shortlisted for the Oxford-Weidenfeld Translation Prize 2019.
About the book
University professor Nina is at a turning point. Her work seems increasingly irrelevant, her doctor husband is never home, relations with her adult daughter Ingeborg are strained, and their beautiful house is scheduled for demolition.
When Ingeborg decides to move into another house they own, things take a very dark turn. The young woman who rents it disappears, leaving behind her son, the day after Nina and Ingeborg pay her a visit.
With few clues, the police enquiry soon grinds to a halt, but Nina has an inexplicable sense of guilt. Unable to rest, she begins her own investigation, but as she pulls on the threads of the case, it seems her discoveries may have very grave consequences for her and her family.
Somewhere along the line Nina and Mads should take some responsibility for the rude, entitled daughter they have raised. How about saying no now and again? Ingeborg decides she wants to live in the rental property her parents own and turns up at the door with her mother. The tenant and her young son seem almost scared by the abrupt encounter and the threat of losing their home.
Then the young woman goes missing – leaving her young son behind. Something about the situation makes Nina suspicious and she starts to investigate the life and disappearance of this poor woman.
I absolutely loved the way Ravatn ends this book. I had to go back and read the last few pages again – just to let it sink in. It sort of gathers the entirety of human shallowness and the acts they are capable of to keep themselves safe – all in one chapter. Kill or be destroyed, tell the truth or come to terms with a version that makes life more comfortable? Selfishness and survival outrank honesty and our own accountability.
I will certainly be putting Ravatn on my list of must-reads and authors to keep an eye on. She spins the perfect plot, even if the reader is never very far from the truth, it’s twisted often enough to keep the reader following the dangling carrot.
It’s Scandi-Crime and a domestic thriller, which is plotted meticulously, although one can absolutely be forgiven for being distracted by the often peculiar characters. Some of which seem to have a touch of megalomania and a penchant for twisting life and outcomes their way, and of course let’s not forget the smooth double-tongued duplicitous being that lurks among them. It’s a riveting read.