48 Rue DefacqzØrstavik, Hanne: 48 rue Defacqz
Rakel and Paul are twins, one a painter, the other an architect. They live together in 48 Rue Defacqz, in a remarkable house that Paul has designed and built with stone from their father’s quarry – the quarry which also made them orphans twenty years earlier. Rakel is engaged to Paul’s boss, but is ambivalent about their impending marriage. The twins work, they make it through from one day to the other, but their existence is strangely timeless and unreal. Still, some things are real - but which and how? One day a woman with a suitcase appears on the pavement across the street from their house. She looks familiar to Rakel.
Questions of art, body and gender are central to Hanne Ørstavik’s ninth novel, all manifest in the house of the twins, an actual art noveau house in Brussels drawn by the Belgian architect Paul Hankar. How could masculine men design something so soft, and how could this feminine thing fit in with their masculinity?
Praise for 48 RUE DEFACQZ:
”A power dose of literature of the kind that delights anybody with a weakness for novels … one of her best novels. It bears all its author’s trademark qualities: The clear translucent writing … the innuendos, the dreamy sequences, the flashbacks ... the sharpness, the dangerous edges, the surprising, odd, sometimes humorous images.”
“Her stories have little plot or outer action. Despite that there is an enormous tension in them. Ørstavik writes a kind of “psychological thrillers” that … touches on the shapeless and deeply human. When I read, it feels as if she is trying to open up something that has been sealed off, as if she is forcing me into something very difficult that I don’t want to apply to me, but which does anyway … Ørstavik’s tenth novel, Hyenas, is now out in Norway, at the same time as her 48 rue Defacqz has become available in Swedish … I have read both, one right after the other, and I still have cramps in my stomach. These are Ørstavik best and most perfect novels so far”
“Hanne Ørstavik is a much loved Norwegian writer who has been showered with literary awards. For a long time I had problems with her books because of the women in them … I was troubled by them, wanted to shake them, force them. DO something! Until I recognized how similar they were to myself … There is an unbearable place here, and I haven’t seen it as brutally described as in Ørstavik’s book … Entering 48 rue Defacqz is entering a state of repetition, of variations that leave deep wheel tracks in the body/heart”
(Svenska Dagbladet, Sweden)
“I appreciate the consistency in Ørstavik’s works: The exploration of desire for truth and the struggle to express it, the search for meaning in a world that is ugly whether there are mountains or streets in the background. But most of all maybe that which originally was difficult to grasp in this novel: the conflict between man and society, how the borders between speech and silence are created”
(Dagens Nyheter, Sweden)
First published: 2009, Forlaget Oktober
Hanne Ørstavik: Biography and bibliography
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