Is Mother Dead

Is Mother Dead

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A cat and mouse game of surveillance and psychological torment develops between a middle aged artist and her aging mother, as Vigdis Hjorth returns to the themes of her controversial modern classic, Will and Testament

**Longlisted for The International Booker Prize 2023**

'To mother is to murder, or close enough', thinks Johanna, as she looks at the spelling of the two words in Norwegian. She's recently widowed and back in Oslo after a long absence as she prepares for a retrospective of her art. The subject of her work is motherhood and some of her more controversial paintings have brought about a dramatic rift between parent and child. This new proximity, after decades of acrimonious absence, set both women on edge, and before too long Johanna finds her mother stalking her thoughts, and Johanna starts stalking her mother's house.

Reviews

  • Hjorth delivers a gripping tale of obsession about an artist and her frayed relationship with her family. [She] keenly walks the line between Johanna's concern and mania; as Johanna's hang-ups occasionally spin out of control, they remain true to the character. This accomplished novel is hard to shake.

    Publishers Weekly, starred review
  • In Is Mother Dead, Hjorth returns to themes of family and estrangement. Johanna, a middle-aged artist, returns to Oslo for a retrospective of her work. She attempts to reconnect with her mother, but she doesn't pick up the phone. Johanna continues to call and text her, fixating on reaching her despite surfacing memories of an unhappy childhood. She continues to stalk her mother - hiding out in her mother's building, following her, and going through her trash - resulting in a memorable story of surveillance and psychological torment.

    Emily FiretogLit Hub, Most Anticipated Books of 2022
  • A darkly insightful examination of mother-daughter relationships that captivates with the suspense of a thriller. The novel's strength lies in its deft use of psychological analysis as it looks at this relationship through one lens after another.

    Kirkus Reviews