Animal life

by Auður A. Ólafsdóttir, 1958-

Format: Print Book 2022
Availability: Available at 2 Libraries 2 of 7 copies
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From winner of the Nordic Council Literature Prize and the Icelandic Literature Prize, Auður Ava Ólafsdóttir, comes a dazzling novel about a family of midwives set in the run-up to Christmas in Iceland

In the days leading up to Christmas, Dómhildur delivers her 1,922nd baby. Beginnings and endings are her family trade; she comes from a long line of midwives on her mother's side and a long line of undertakers on her father's. She even lives in the apartment that she inherited from her grandaunt, a midwife with a unique reputation for her unconventional methods.

As a terrible storm races towards Reykjavik, Dómhildur discovers decades worth of letters and manuscripts hidden amongst her grandaunt's clutter. Fielding calls from her anxious meteorologist sister and visits from her curious new neighbour, Dómhildur escapes into her grandaunt's archive and discovers strange and beautiful reflections on birth, death and human nature.

With her singular warmth and humor, in Animal Life Ólafsdóttir gives us a beguiling novel that comes direct from the depths of an Icelandic winter, full of hope for spring.

Published Reviews
Booklist Review: "Prize-winning Icelandic author Ólafsdóttir's lyrical meditation on birth and death centers on Dýja, who was named for her grandaunt, nicknamed Fífa. Like many generations of women in her family, including her namesake, Dýja is a midwife, the Icelandic word for which--ljósmóður--translates to "mother of light." After Fífa's death, Dýja inherits her apartment and a box containing three of Fifa's manuscripts: Animal Life, The Truth about Light, and Coincidence. The novel alternates between Dýja's attempts to understand her grandaunt's work and her day-to-day life during the darkest time of the year as she and the members of her community prepare for a major storm. As women who bring life into the world, Dýja and her grandaunt both consider the impact of humanity on the natural world and birth in the face of the inevitability of death. At times poetic and philosophical, Animal Life is a uniquely crafted novel that concerns itself with light and darkness, purpose and coincidence, fear and hope."
From Booklist, Copyright (c) American Library Association. Used with permission.
Publisher's Weekly Review: "In the quiet and meditative latest from Ólafsdóttir (Miss Iceland), a midwife reflects on life and death. Dómhildur is the fourth in a maternal line of midwives, while her paternal ancestors have been undertakers. As Christmas approaches and the long Icelandic winter rages, she spends time in the apartment she has inherited from her namesake great-aunt, going through the late Dómhildur's letters and other writings on the nature of the humanity, offering accounts of people at their weakest, most joyous, and most devastated. Meanwhile, Dómhildur's meteorologist sister warns her about an unprecedented storm that's on the way, and a hapless Australian tourist renting an upstairs neighbor's apartment plies Dómhildur with questions about the weather and where he should go. Ólafsdóttir is at her best when sharing the histories of midwives--in Icelandic, the word is made up of the words for "mother" and light"--who traverse a landscape of "bottomless eternal blackness" in attempts to perform their work, often arriving to find a newborn dead, "because the weather doesn't always bend to the requirements of a woman in need." Nothing much happens, but only in the way that one could say nothing much happens on any given day, the rhythms of which the author captures perfectly. The result is a rich slice of life. (Dec.)"
(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
Additional Information
Subjects Midwives -- Fiction.
Publisher New York :Black Cat,2022
Edition First Grove Atlantic paperback edition.
Other Titles Dýralíf.
Contributors FitzGibbon, Brian (Translator), translator.
Language English
Notes Translation of: Dýralíf.
Description 188 pages ; 21 cm
ISBN 9780802160164
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