Translated from the original Icelandic by Meg Matich
Twenty-year-old Lilja is in love. As a young university student, she is quickly smitten with the intelligent, beautiful young man from school who quotes Derrida and reads Latin and cooks balanced vegetarian meals. Before she even realizes, she’s moved in with him, living in his cramped apartment, surrounded by sour towels and flat Diet Cokes. As the newfound intimacy of sharing a shower and a bed fuels her desire to please her partner, his acts of nearly imperceptible abuse continue to mount undetected. Lilja desperately tries to be the perfect lover, attempting to meet his every need. But in order to do so, she gradually lets go of her boundaries and starts to lose her sense of self. With astounding clarity and restraint, Hjörleifsdóttir sheds light on the commonplace undercurrents of violence that so often go undetected in romantic relationships. She deftly illustrates the failings of psychiatric systems in recognizing symptoms of cruelty, and in powerful, poetic prose depicts the unspooling of a tender-hearted woman desperate to love well.
About the Author/Translator:
Thóra Hjörleifsdóttir has published three poetry collections with her poetry collective, Imposter Poets. She lives in Reykjavík. Magma is her first novel.
Meg Matich earned her MFA from Columbia University’s Creative Writing Program. She’s received support for her literary translation work from DAAD, the Icelandic Literature Centre, PEN, and the Fulbright Commission. She has translated poetry into English and Icelandic for UNESCO, as a representative of Reykjavik UNESCO in Lviv, Ukraine.
Nominating Library’s Comments:
Magma is the first novel by Thóra Hjörleifsdóttir. In the book, she talks about the dark side of love and invisible violence. The main character Lilja falls in love with a man and is ready to go to great lengths for him. When she stops setting limits for him, Lilja loses control of herself and reality.
A very interesting and well written book about a difficult subject that paints a picture of an abusive relationship. – Reykjavík City Library, Iceland