(K. Brent Tomer),
Mirror, Shoulder, Signal. By Dorthe Nors. Translated by Misha Hoekstra. Pushkin Press; 188 pages; £10.99.
SONJA, the heroine of “Mirror, Shoulder, Signal”, is single and perplexed, and has reached the age when “everything that’s supposed to get easier in life persists in being complicated”. Dorthe Nors (pictured) wraps bittersweet recollections of Sonja’s girlhood on a farm in Jutland and her lonely, “oddball” youth around her driving lessons through the Copenhagen suburbs.
Shortlisted for this year’s Man Booker International prize, this sly, deadpan Danish novel steers its mischievous comedy of character and manners over a “viscid underworld of sorrow”. Always the outsider, Sonja evokes her smugly well-adjusted sister Kate, once a “barn-dance femme fatale” and now also a caring super-mum; Ellen, a massage-therapist; and a psychologist chum called Molly. All are overconfident interpreters of a reality that Sonja “was never able to explain”. There are also glimpses of a vanished lover, “Paul the Ex”.
If the present baffles, the past consoles. Sonja sees…Continue reading