Please Read This Leaflet Carefully: Keep This Leaflet. You May Need to Read It Again.
Please Read This Leaflet Carefully, the debut novel from Norwegian writer and translator Karen Havelin, is the story of a woman whose body has become her enemy.
We meet Laura Fjellstad first as she works and cares for her young daughter, while struggling with debilitating pain and endometriosis, an invisible chronic illness. As the novel tracks backward, the reader meets Laura's younger and somewhat healthier selves (a hopeful bride in New York, a baby queer in Paris, a figure skater in Norway), and uncovers her tireless work to gain control of her identity, her illness and the conflicting demands made by doctors, friends, lovers and family. Havelin's debut novel etches details of daily life into a gripping and darkly humorous bildungsroman about the intricacies of love and life in a fragile body.
Man Booker Prize-winning author Paul Beatty says, Most books about disease try to describe the pain; told in poetic whisper, Karen Havelin's debut novel lets pain speak for itself. It's a book that dares you be nosy, to eavesdrop and listen in to a stoic young woman whom no one noticed until she began to disappear, her body disintegrating from the inside out until there's nothing left but searing agony and almost impossibly--a burning triumph.
Jarringly funny and perceptive; an intimate reckoning with the inner demons and precarity of everyday life, unpacked through the very specific lens of a woman with chronic pain.
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About the Author
Most books about disease try to describe the pain; told in poetic whisper, Karen Havelin's debut novel lets pain speak for itself. It's a book that dares you be nosy, to eavesdrop and listen in to a stoic young woman whom no one noticed until she began to disappear, her body disintegrating from the inside out until there's nothing left but searing agony and almost impossibly--a burning triumph.--Paul Beatty, Man Booker Prize 2016
[A] forceful debut...[a] screed on the fight for normalcy against a backdrop of persistent agony.--PUBLISHERS WEEKLY
A novel that reads like a memoir, the best kind that draws you in and changes the way you think about relationships.--THE GUARDIAN
A clear-eyed exploration of how women's health issues are rarely taken seriously...a clever unspooling of one woman's psyche. -- THE PARIS REVIEW
Pain is a lonely place. At one point, Laura asks herself, 'Is it even possible for people to accompany each other to the darkest places?' For those who want to understand pain's physical and emotional toll, and for those isolated by their own pain, this book may provide the answer. --WORLD LITERATURE TODAY
Havelin writes boldly about the often overlooked maladies that women face. --COLUMBIA MAGAZINE, Summer 2019 Reading List
By exposing some of her most vulnerable moments, Havelin has extended a hand to others who remain in the shadows. -- NORWEGIAN ARTS
Karen Havelin writes with astounding sensitivity and grace of the vulnerability of the body, that abject and essential container within which we live our entire lives. With a keen eye for detail and a boundless capacity to evoke empathetic thought, Havelin's debut is a revelation. -- Alexandra Kleeman, author of You Too Can Have a Body Like Mine
A book as profound as it is delicately written, Havelin's unflinching portrait of female reproductive suffering unfolds in an beautifully observed coming of age story that crosses continents. This book stays with you long after you put it down. -- Iris Martin Cohen, author of The Little Clan
A superbly written and incredibly graceful novel about the things that really matter: love, mortality, and all the beautiful things that keep us alive. -- Gary Shteyngart, author of Lake Success: A Novel and Super Sad True Love Story
A fiercely told and beautifully rendered story of reclamation: of body, of love, of self. -- Hala Alyan, author of Salt Houses
Havelin's potent debut Please Read This Leaflet Carefully...is quiet and its transcendence comes not from the triumph over the villain, but from something that challenges us to bravery in the face of no clear end. -- Kira von Eichel, Women's Review of Books
Please Read This Leaflet Carefully dares us not to look away from the complex inner world of Laura Fjellstad: the chronic pain from which she suffers, her hopes, loves, sorrows and furies--and in so doing shines as a perceptive, exquisitely rendered jewel. -- Lauren Wilkinson, author of American Spy
With an equally fierce gift for conjuring beauty and pain, Karen Havelin's debut novel takes us on a sensual journey that's at turns horrific and sexy and full of grace. This is a triumph of depicting the body in literature, alive in the modern world. -- Joanna Hershon, author of A Dual Inheritance
The writing is addictive. You read it, and you're sucked right in. -- Tom Roberge (owner of Riff Raff Books), the Three Percent Podcast
Scarifying and beautiful. -- Benjamin Taylor, author of The Hue and Cry at Our House: A Year Remembered
Havelin's book keeps readers teetering on the edge of an abyss that cannot quite be named...only to pull them back to a sunny meadow of hope, beauty, and temporary relief...a clear message to readers both healthy and sick. -- Yardenne Greenspan, Ploughshares