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Hanna Nordenhök

Caesaria

On a remote country estate, a renowned obstetrician keeps a young girl that he once carved out of her mother’s body, like slicing out the shimmering pearl from an oyster. It is the dawn of modern gynaecology and the female body appears like a cryptic landscape.

In her new novel, Hanna Nordenhök re-visits the 19th century with its disciplinary ideas and mechanisms, among male hubris and lonely impoverished children, among dirt, confinement and runaway visions. From a story that is loosely based on historical events and characters emerges a dollhouse existence, characterised by supervision and punishment, assault and incarceration.

Caesaria is part novel, part fairy-tale, and a story that portrays an impossible longing for freedom through suggestive, dreamlike imagery.

WINNER OF SWEDISH RADIO’S LITERATURE PRIZE 2021

SHORTLISTED FOR VI’S LITERATURE PRIZE 2021

Hanna

About the author

Nordenhök

Hanna Nordenhök (b. 1977) has been awarded several major literary honours for her work. Her last novel Caesaria (2020) scooped Swedish Radio’s Literary Prize and was also shortlisted for Vi’s Literature Prize. Nordenhök also works as a translator from the Spanish and has been praised for her translations of Fernanda Melchor, Andrea Abreu and Gloria Gervitz. Wonderland…

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Canada: Book*Hug Press (NA rights), Mexico: Planeta México (World Spanish rights), UK : Hèloïse Press (UK & Commonwealth rights)

On a remote country estate, a renowned obstetrician keeps a young girl that he once carved out of her mother’s body, like slicing out the shimmering pearl from an oyster. It is the dawn of modern gynaecology and the female body appears like a cryptic landscape.

In her new novel, Hanna Nordenhök re-visits the 19th century with its disciplinary ideas and mechanisms, among male hubris and lonely impoverished children, among dirt, confinement and runaway visions. From a story that is loosely based on historical events and characters emerges a dollhouse existence, characterised by supervision and punishment, assault and incarceration.

Caesaria is part novel, part fairy-tale, and a story that portrays an impossible longing for freedom through suggestive, dreamlike imagery.

WINNER OF SWEDISH RADIO’S LITERATURE PRIZE 2021

SHORTLISTED FOR VI’S LITERATURE PRIZE 2021

Reviews

Hanna Nordenhök’s wonderfully poetic prose creates a powerful and complex sensation, that recalls both the Garden of Eden as well as a pressure vessel

Hanna Nordenhök’s wonderfully poetic prose creates a powerful and complex sensation, that recalls both the Garden of Eden as well as a pressure vessel /… / Where Hanna Nordenhök’s previous novels played out against an identifiable reality: in Dalby, in Indonesia, in Råby juvenile detention centre, Caesaria’s house appears as something straight out of a fairytale, a next-door-neighbour to Rapunzel’s and Cinderella’s castles. But here there is no liberation, no way out. Her dilemma resembles that of Segismundo in Calderon’s 17th century drama Life is a Dream. What is reality to those who have grown up trapped in their own bodies, relying upon their own senses, without any contact with the world outside? An illusion, a dream, a nightmare? The victim, an object for a past apparatus of care and violence, speaks and thus creates her own world of colours, scents, light and sounds: frightening, alluring, full of beauty, pain and grief. Society fades away, and what is left is existence itself, shimmering and profound like a black pearl.

Dagens Nyheter
More than anything, this is a breathlessly creepy and deeply affecting portrait of a girl’s life, so confined and so deprived of impressions that it’s verging on madness

More than anything, this is a breathlessly creepy and deeply affecting portrait of a girl’s life, so confined and so deprived of impressions that it’s verging on madness /… / It is unsettling to be detained at Lilltuna for 244 pages, beyond there and then, also beyond gender warfare and class oppression, incarcerated in a low-level dread, radiantly and skilfully evoked by Hanna Nordenhök

Göteborgs-Posten
Hanna Nordenhök writes sentences that are intense and ambiguous, like sinister omens of what is to come

If it is true that the Sámis have one hundred words for snow, Nordenhök must have one hundred ways to describe the light of the skies. Hanna Nordenhök writes sentences that are intense and ambiguous, like sinister omens of what is to come /… / The furiously beautiful sentences and the horror that lurks underneath them create an atmosphere that recalls Marguerite Duras’ portrayals of the intimate relationship between lust and pain

Nordvästra Skåne
Nordenhök is one of Sweden’s most interesting writers

Nordenhök is one of Sweden’s most interesting writers. Her subdued prose and poignant stories are truly affecting. New novel Caesaria echoes themes and nuances from previous works, as well as the macabre scenes and the archaically embellished prose, but this time everything is brought to a head – to accompany a highly remarkable history /… / By using biblical images and the 19th century Romantic movement’s lyrical arabesque of feral vegetation, the elemental forces come crashing through in this both horrific and astonishing peepshow of a novel, in which Hanna Nordenhök successfully adds mythological meaning to everything.

Norrköpings-Tidningar

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