“He let me return for a moment before clasping his hands around my throat and holding tight, one last time. The murky green luminescence of the forest and the sound of birds returned a few times, before receding forever.”
Sara Stridsberg’s new novel evokes the very core of her creative endeavor: it gives voice to a murdered woman who, like so many of Stridsberg’s characters, has sought freedom in ruin and destruction. Antarctica of Love relates despair and exposure; it tells of cruelty, of loneliness and maternal love. And of that which remains once all else is lost.
The novel’s protagonist, Inni, whose short life was lived on the streets, manifests an emblematic stridsbergian duality – the desire to be free, and the desire to cease to exist. The story unfolds through an unusual narrative technique, a murder scene repeated from multiple perspectives: frozen in time and space, yet sprawling and dynamic. Fixed in the moment of her death at the hands of an unknown man, Inni addresses the world from the liminal space from which she observes the still living, allowing for digressions into the lives of her parents, siblings, friends and above all her children, gazing back in time as well as into the future.
Inni watches her children. She maps the winding paths of her life that led not only to darkness and despair, but also to moments of joy and light. A heartbreaking existential drama, Antarctica of Love employs Stridsberg’s characteristic blend of literary gravitas and popular accessibility. It is a brutal story of unexpected beauty, powered by the conviction that only love can save us.
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