by Open Letter
A novel about the curse of self-knowledge and the blessings of denial; a medical romance unlike any other.
No one can sense the undercurrents of a populace better than a general practitioner. I have seen it all: gluten free, lactose free, sugar free, every online or newspaper headline attempt to get healthy people to think that if only they stop eating bread or cheese, everything will fall into place. Middle-agers can’t fathom why they’re so tired all the time. It’s because you are starting to get old, I explain, but they think this aging thing doesn’t apply to them, just as death doesn’t apply to them either. They think they are the exception.
For two decades, Elin has been a regular general practitioner. For at least as long, she has been married to Aksel. But before Aksel there was Bjørn, who a year ago suddenly reached out to her on Facebook, and who has since turned Elin’s world upside down. She’s moved into her office, where her patients march in, all day long, with all their disgusting little infirmities and ailments. And though she likes spending the extra time in her office—even though she has to sleep on her examiniation table, bathe in the employee restroom, and hide from the security guard when he makes his rounds at night—Elin feels abandoned and even more disillusioned with life and people than she did before she stumbled into her affair.
Nina Lykke’s Natural Causes is a fierce study of people who try to keep going. At the same time, the novel is a sharp, good-natured commentary on a society where wealth and abundance has made us demanding and torpid. Lykke keeps a fine balance between stereotypical exaggeration and uncomfortable, embarrassing recognition.
Translated from the Norwegian by B. L. Crook
About the Author:
Nina Lykke (1965) is a Norwegian writer. Her first book, The Orgy and Other Stories, was nominated for the Young Readers’ Critics’ Prize. Her novel Disintegration, which followed in 2013, had brilliant reviews and was shortlisted for the P2 Listeners’ Novel Prize. In 2014, Lykke was awarded the Booksellers’ Author Grant.
About the Translator:
B. L. Crook is a writer and literary translator. In 2010, she founded SAND, an English literary journal, in Berlin. She led creative writing workshops in the Netherlands for two years before returning to the United States. She lives with her family on an island near Seattle.
Praise for Nina Lykke: