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, Hjörleifsdóttir 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.
About the Author
THORA HJÖRLEIFSDÓTTIR has published three poetry collections with her poetry collective, Imposter Poets. She lives in Reykjavík. Magma is her first novel. MEG MATICH earned her Master of Fine Arts from Columbia University's Creative Writing. She's received support for her literary translation work from DAAD, the Icelandic Literature Centre (through publishers), PEN, and the Fulbright Commission. She has translated poetry into English and Icelandic for UNESCO, as a representative of Reykjavik UNESCO in Lviv, Ukraine.
"Hjörleifsdóttir's narrator pulls us into the tale of her near undoing and her struggle to find her own value. It is the masterful writer who can shock us and make it ring so true." --Lily King
"Magma is a luminous and poetic novel unlike any I have ever read. How to describe the slow escalation by which possession becomes control, and power abuse? Thora Hjörleifsdóttir shows how and the effects are shocking and beautiful. She has created a whole new landscape for storytelling." --John Freeman
"A novel that speaks directly to its present age... An incredibly compelling book." --Iceland National Radio