Vigdis Hjorth discusses Long Live the Post Horn!
Karl Ove Knausgård gets all the English press, but Norway’s most electrifying writer is Vigdis Hjorth. In her nearly four-decade career, the prolific author has written dozens of novels that boldly chronicle the dual drives of alienation and desire. Her work can be incredibly Norwegian; for example, the woman at the center of A House in Norway may be legible to people from other countries, but her conflicting desires for connection and isolation are especially familiar to Norwegian readers of Knut Hamsun and Dag Solstad. Most often, though, her work cuts across cultures. Her most recently written novel, published in English as Will and Testament, was a literary phenomenon—it’s an autofictional tale that centers around a protagonist in her 50s, uncannily similar to Hjorth herself, who breaks the code of silence and goes public about the sexual abuse she suffered at the hands of her father. Hjorth masterfully weaves layers of doubt, uncertainty, and fiction into the work, but the apparent airing of family secrets caused an uproar so great that Hjorth’s sister wrote her own response in the form of another barely veiled novel. Hjorth’s newest book to appear in English, however, is Long Live the Post Horn!, which came out in 2012 in Norway. It chronicles how a woman drifting through life gets sucked into a six-month drama at the Norwegian Postal Workers Union, and its recent U.S. release is especially well-timed as Americans come together in support of their own postal service. The event begins at 4 p.m. on Sept. 30. Registration is available at politics-prose.org. Free. —Emma Sarappo