-Love is Hanne Ørstavik’s strongest book.
Karl Ove Knausgård

– Edgy, elegiac and beautifully written novel
Kerry Arsenault, Oprah Magazine


  • Shortlisted for The Republic of Consciousness Prize 2020
  • Winner of the US PEN Translation Prize 2019
  • Shortlisted for the US National Book Award, translated fiction 2018
  • Named the 6th best Norwegian book of the last 25 years in a prestigious critics’ vote in Dagbladet, 2006

Love is the story about Vibeke and Jon, mother and son, who have just moved to a small place in the north of Norway. It’s the day before Jon’s birthday, and a travelling carnival has come to the village. Jon goes out to sell lottery tickets for his sports club, and Vibeke is going to the library. From here on we follow the two individuals on their separate journeys through a cold winter’s night – while a sense of uneasiness grows.

Love illustrates how language builds its own reality, and thus how mother and son can live in completely separate worlds. This distance is found not only between human beings, but also within each individual. This novel shows how such distance may have fatal consequences.

Ørstavik builds a cinematic sense of dread out of the plainest prose, phrase layered on phrase with the hushed implacability of falling snow.

The Guardian, UK

Trim and electrifying … Orstavik’s mastery of perspective and clean, crackling sentences prevent sentimentality or sensationalism … [an] excellent novel.

New York Times

[A] haunting masterpiece … Ørstavik shifts from Vibeke to Jon with incredible dexterity, often jumping perspective from one paragraph to the next, and, as their seemingly mundane nights progress, a creeping sense of dread builds. The deceptively simple novel is slow-burning, placing each character into situations associated with horror—entering an unfamiliar house, accepting a ride from a stranger—and the result is a magnificent tale.

Publishers' Weekly

A beautiful, memorable novel about love and neglect … an achingly sad, unsentimental story about a mother and son both searching for solace over one long, bitterly cold evening. … Ørstavik brings us remarkably close to both her characters, shifting effortlessly between them in stark, lucid prose.

Irish Times

A masterpiece of minimalist prose.

Süddeutsche Zeitung, Germany

Love is a masterpiece. Tight, hard, piercing, but at the same time tender and deep. A novel about the strongest feeling there is, love, and how the lack of it changes us radically and quietly … Love is a unique book. A rare gem. A novel you absolutely have to read.

Mattia Insolia, Mangialibri, Italy

As so often before, solemnity is a condition for sensitivity. Hanne Ørstavik has used this principle to perfection, and gives us a novel that is simple and subtle, meditative and gripping.