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Magma (Paperback)

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Magma By Thora Hjörleifsdóttir, Meg Matich (Translator) Cover Image
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Staff Reviews

This book takes the stereotype of Scandinavian countries as peaceful, idyllic places and flips it on its head. The downward spiral that Lilja goes through to maintain her relationship is all too familiar in our society, as are the manipulations and degradations that her lover forces on her as his control grows. Many people, especially Americans, want to put foreign countries on a pedestal simply because they don’t experience the negative aspects of those places, but Hjorleifsdottir makes absolutely sure that nobody will confuse her world with heaven. Searingly poetic and brutally honest, Magma is an expression of solidarity with abused women across the globe from one of the places that is supposed to be safe from such things.

— From David's Staff Picks


A compulsive, propulsive debut about a young woman's haunting experience of love, abuse, and sex in an era of pornification by one of Iceland's most provocative writers.

20-year old Lilja is in love. As a young university student, she is quickly smitten with the intelligent, beautiful young man from school who quotes Derrida and reads Latin and cooks balanced vegetarian meals. Before she even realizes, she's moved in with him, living in his cramped apartment, surrounded by sour towels and flat Diet Cokes. As the newfound intimacy of sharing a shower and a bed fuels her desire to please her partner, his acts of nearly imperceptible abuse continue to mount undetected. Lilja desperately tries to be the perfect lover, attempting to meet his every need. But in order to do so, she gradually lets go of her boundaries and starts to lose her sense of self.

With astounding clarity and restraint, Hj rleifsd ttir sheds light on the commonplace undercurrents of violence that so often go undetected in romantic relationships. She deftly illustrates the failings of psychiatric systems in recognizing symptoms of cruelty, and in powerful, poetic prose depicts the unspooling of a tender-hearted woman desperate to love well.

Product Details
ISBN: 9780802157393
ISBN-10: 0802157394
Publisher: Grove Press, Black Cat
Publication Date: July 13th, 2021
Pages: 208
Language: English