Will and Testament: A Novel (Paperback)

Will and Testament: A Novel By Vigdis Hjorth, Charlotte Barslund (Translated by) Cover Image
By Vigdis Hjorth, Charlotte Barslund (Translated by)
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Longlisted for the National Book Award

Four siblings, two summer houses, one terrible secret—the “prickly, persuasive” bestseller from one of Norway’s most celebrated novelists, perfect for readers of Rachel Cusk and Karl Ove Knausgaard (New Yorker)

“ . . . Hypnotic. Hjorth works finely parsed and brilliant variations on her unrelenting theme of familial mistrust and misunderstanding.” —New York Times

When a dispute over her parents’ will grows bitter, Bergljot is drawn back into the orbit of the family she fled twenty years before. Her mother and father have decided to leave two island summer houses to her sisters, disinheriting the two eldest siblings from the most meaningful part of the estate. To outsiders, it is a quarrel about property and favoritism. But Bergljot, who has borne a horrible secret since childhood, understands the gesture as something very different—a final attempt to suppress the truth and a cruel insult to the grievously injured.

Will and Testament is a lyrical meditation on trauma and memory, as well as a furious account of a woman’s struggle to survive and be believed. Vigdis Hjorth’s novel became a controversial literary sensation in Norway and has been translated into twenty languages.

About the Author

Vigdis Hjorth is the author of over a dozen prize-winning and bestselling novels. Will and Testament sold 150,000 copies in Norway and has received several awards, including the Norwegian Critics Prize for Literature and the Norwegian Booksellers’ Prize, as well as being nominated for the Nordic Council Literature Prize. She lives in Oslo.

Praise For…

Longlisted for the 2019 National Book Award for Translated Literature

Longlisted for the 2020 Best Translated Book Award for Fiction

Longlisted for The Millions Best Translated Book Awards for Fiction

“Like Knausgaard, Hjorth is writing against repression, against the taboo on telling things as they really are. But he urges us to look at dead bodies; she forces us to regard bleeding souls. Hjorth seems to have formulated from her experiments with living models a model for living, in which exposure—of the self and of others—serves a larger purpose.”
—New Yorker

“The cumulative effect is hypnotic. Hjorth works finely parsed and brilliant variations on her unrelenting theme of familial mistrust and misunderstanding.
New York Times

—John Williams, New York Times Book Review

“A powerfully humane novel about inheritance, trauma and the inheritance of trauma.”
Times Literary Supplement

“This is a novel that people could enjoy either as high literature or as a work of down-and-dirty revenge. The tabloids loved it as much as the broadsheets, and it became the bestselling novel of the year.”
Ben McPherson, Guardian

“In a ruthless yet patiently delivered work, Hjorth does something that few writers achieve: Will and Testament is both economical and overwhelming.”
—Elsa Court, Financial Times

Will and Testament is a compulsively readable novel, one that turns questions of shame into weapons against silence.”
Paris Review

“Hjorth’s thoughtful, drily funny, and often devastating novel will leave a deep and lasting impression on readers.”
Publishers Weekly


“An extraordinary book.”
—Megan Nolan

"Vigdis Hjorth is one of my favorite contemporary writers."
—Sheila Heti, author of Motherhood and How Should a Person Be?

“Will and Testament is a reminder that it’s easier to hide darkness than face it … Hjorth argues cogently that conflicts and atrocities often stem from what a nation represses or denies.”
—Holly Williams, Observer

“Compelling … Hjorth proves brilliant at revealing the stubborn, unredemptive quality of childhood suffering.”
—Lara Feigel, Guardian

“The strength of the novel lies in Bergljot’s convincing and continuing vulnerability, in her mixed feelings and her flaws … A clear-eyed and convincing story of a family’s doomed attempt to reconcile and the limits of forgiveness.”

“Hjorth parcels out the secrets with a precision worthy of Ibsen, so that the level of suspense is maintained up until the very last pages.”

“Furious and wise, trembling and stringent. Will and Testament examines who owns the past. This is the novel in weaponized form.”

“Its strong emotional truths take hold of you immediately—even before the family secret’s consequences are made apparent: I dogeared page after page to mark off insights, movements, formulations.”
Dagens Nyheter

“Even in the depths of family trauma, the scent of the forest, sea and meadow may still drift over the troubled cities and suburbs of Norwegian fiction. That forest may be a real place. It may also, as in Will and Testament, be a longed-for state of mind.”
—Boyd Tonkin, Norwegian Arts

“Precise, contemplative, and deeply moving, it’s a masterful unpacking of the tensions, secrets, and bonds that hold a family together.”
—Hannah Williams, Los Angeles Review of Books

“An extraordinary storyteller.”
Los Angeles Review of Books

“Readers pining for a dose of brooding Norwegian writing in the style of Karl Ove Knausgaard may be drawn to this account of a woman’s struggle to achieve reconciliation with a family that refuses to recognise she was the victim of abuse at the hands of her own father.”
—Ángel Gurría-Quintana, Financial Times (“Best Books of 2019: Fiction in Translation”)

“One of the year’s gems in translation was Will and Testament by Vigdis Hjorth, translated by Charlotte Barslund. A story of abuse, inheritance and the battle for the truth among a privileged Norwegian family, it grips like a vice while interrogating national as well as individual self-conception.”
Guardian (“Best Fiction of 2019”)

“Published to a storm of controversy in Vigdis Hjorth’s native Norway in 2016, Will and Testament arrived in English this year. The novel is a meticulously paced account of a property dispute that bleeds poisonously back into the history of the narrator and the family members whose squabbling over a cabin comes to seem darkly absurd compared with the trauma she has suffered.”
—Megan Nolan, New Statesman (“Books of the Year 2019”)

“Unsettling, beautifully constructed.”

“Unspooling in a splenetic torrent of raw emotional intensity, [Will and Testament] speaks to wider issues of collective traumas that societies refuse to confront.”
Morning Star

“Add Vigdis Hjorth to the growing list of writers of significant autofiction, reality literature whose characters depend on recognizable people and actual situations. Like Karl Ove Knausgaard’s monumental six volumes of the autobiographically inspired My Struggle and Elena Ferrante’s indelible four-volume Neapolitan series (beginning with My Brilliant Friend), Hjorth’s Will and Testament brilliantly examines the troubled life occasioned by recovered memories of a traumatic personal event.”
—Robert Allen Papinchak, World Literature Today

“A curious and very good short novel.”
—Laura Waddell, Scotsman

Product Details
ISBN: 9781788733106
ISBN-10: 178873310X
Publisher: Verso Fiction
Publication Date: September 10th, 2019
Pages: 336
Language: English
Series: Verso Fiction