When Death Takes Something from You Give It Back: Carl's Book


Product Details

$22.95  $21.34
Coffee House Press
Publish Date
5.3 X 7.8 X 1.0 inches | 0.55 pounds

Earn by promoting books

Earn money by sharing your favorite books through our Affiliate program.

Become an affiliate

About the Author

Naja Marie Aidt was born in Greenland and raised in Copenhagen. She is the author of eleven collections of poetry, a novel, and three short story collections, including Baboon, which won the 2008 Nordic Council Literature Prize, Scandinavia's highest literary honor. Her work has been translated into sixteen languages.Denise Newman is a translator and poet who has published four collections of poetry. She has translated two books by Denmark's Inger Christensen. Her translation of Naja Marie Aidt's short story collection Baboon won the 2015 PEN Translation Prize.


Longlisted for the 2019 National Book Award for Translation
Finalist for the 2019 Kirkus Prize for Nonfiction

"This beautiful, exquisitely made memoir is Didion 4.0 . . . a meditation on time and the way our narration of what happens during life sieves through a slippery gear--our selves--how consciousness is the sound of trying to get it turning again." --Literary Hub

"Naja Marie Aidt's When Death Takes Something from You Give It Back is a lamentation, it's a dirge, it's a celebration . . . I've never read anything close to how beautiful and terrifying this book is about grief and about befores and afters.&rdquo --John Freeman

"Extraordinary. It is about death, but I can think of few books which have such life. It shows us what love is." --Max Porter

"A brutal but also beautiful meditation on death that combines family archives and a chorus of literary voices, and with them composes an indelible ode to life." --Valeria Luiselli, GQ

"There is no one quite like Naja Marie Aidt. She's comparable only to things like sequoias, whale song, desert thunderstorms, or wolves. The depth of her emotional world and the diaphanous, often brutal clarity with which she understands the human soul beckon us to pause, breathe, think. Here, she takes us on a journey into death and loss, and then thrusts us back out--back into life--more awake, more ready to embrace it as it comes." --Valeria Luiselli

"This book does more than just plumb the depths of our emotions, it also serves as an affirmation: of family, of love, and of life."--Nylon

&ldquoThis remarkable memoir is easily one of the best of any kind published in the last decade. . . . Watching Aidt pull it off is akin to watching Philippe Petit walk a tight-rope between the Twin Towers." --Literary Hub

"An undoubtedly beautiful artistic achievement. . . . a triumph of honesty in self-expression, complete and unmitigated." --Ploughshares

&ldquoJust as the mind reconstructs the traumatic events in memories, the narrative constructs meaning through repetition, borrowed fragments, flashbacks. . . . These memories, like dried flowers, collected and assembled, carry Carl's spirit, preserved for eternity." &mdashWords Without Borders

"Aidt's collage. . . . is artful and is only seemingly frantic. Beneath the surface lies a highly controlled text that aims to bring her son to life on the page, and thus allow herself to move on with her own life." --Bookforum

"To read this book is to commune with Aidt and with suffering itself, a testament to Denise Newman's dedicated and emotive work in translating it from the original Danish." --World Literature Today

"A powerful and emotionally intense account of dealing with trauma, the struggle to find the right words to express the anguish of grief and finding the strength to move on after a tragic loss of a loved one." --TranslatedLit

"One of the best books ever written about sorrow in Danish literary history, if you ask me. It's heartbreaking in its description of horror, trauma and loss, but it's also beautiful, courageous, poetic, and unforgettable." --Five Books

"A beautifully fragmented and hope-filled book about embracing love and death." --BookRiot

"From Sisterhood to Dystopia to Nordic Noir - 6 Must-Read New Books for March" --Culture Fly

"When Death Takes Something from You Give it Back is a letter from a journey through a lake of fire. Aidt manages the emotionally impossible, sharing with the reader something of what it is to lose a child. A radiant book." --Rivka Galchen

"Explores relentlessly the boundaries of language's capacity to hold and be held by loss, and (remarkably) the turning towards wonder that Aidt pursues in its wake...Hybridizing memoir, criticism, and lyric poetry into a form unlike anything I've read before, Aidt turns the full-body, languagelessness of pain and sorrow into the very medium of her book: that which the brilliance and bone-deep awe of her writing emerges from." --Bradley Trumpfheller, Brookline Booksmith

"Naja Marie Aidt is, without a doubt, one of the finest living writers in Scandinavia. Always interesting. Always intelligent. Playful, precise, and passionate. A writer's writer--one of the few I wait for and read the moment she's got something new. And then there's Carl's Book a heartbreaking masterpiece about unimaginable loss, resilience, and love. I wish with all my heart that Naja Marie Aidt never had to write this book--a memoir from the inside of grief--and at the same time I am deeply grateful that she did. It is devastating, wise, precise, and beautiful. Sometimes a work of art makes you impatient: you want to share it with everyone. You call people (call them, knock on their doors, buy the book and put it in their mailboxes) and tell them to read it immediately. Carl's Book evokes that kind of urgency." --Linn Ullmann, author of Unquiet

Praise for Naja Marie Aidt

"Precise and evocative, often inspiring a strange balance between curiosity and anxiety in the reader. . . . [Aidt] inspires readers to read between the lines." --Publishers Weekly

"The strength of Aidt and her admirable translator Denise Newman . . . comes through the book's steadfast gaze into the shadows of life. . . . Undoubtedly one of the most intelligent writers of the contemporary literary world, Aidt is also clearly one of the most compassionate--and therefore one of the most important--voices in fiction." --Music & Literature

"Naja Marie Aidt's stories ask not only what could be hiding beneath the surface of our otherwise calm lives, but what has been hiding there all along. They are odd and surprising, and refreshing in that they offer no conclusions. She is the writer of dark secrets." --Sarah Gerard, author of Binary Star

Naja Marie Aidt's shattering elegy about her grown son's death is a modern Greek tragedy--and a relentless account of grief's deepest reality." --Weekendavisen

"Naja Marie Aidt's book on the loss of her son is a genuine and unbearable masterwork. . . . [Her writing] about death, grief and the indescribable consequences make up this incredibly good book. I wish Aidt never had to write about this endless nightmare, indeed, one of its most important points is that grief never goes away. And yet, we now have a book without illusions, a merciless and insistent depiction of how deeply death reaches into the body and soul. Aidt has rendered a convincing reconstruction of the depths of grief." --Jyllands-Posten

"An immense work of art . . . an extremely beautiful and shockingly sorrowful work and a declaration of love's communality. One of the most painful and paradoxically one of the most beautiful books I have ever read." --Kristeligt Dagblad

"Naja Marie Aidt has written incredibly and incredibly well about losing her child." --Politiken

"A necessary book, which leaves the reader deeply moved. The first thing one wants to say after reading Naja Marie Aidt's book is Thank you! Thank you for giving terror a language . . . You have here a book that was written out of necessity, and you are sucked into that necessity as you read. Deeply moving." --Information

"Raw, beautiful reading and enormous literature . . . a rewarding work on death, language, love and the companionship that makes it possible to survive such deep sorrow." --Børsen

"Painful poetry and important prose, which everyone should read . . . Read Carl's Book right away. It's important, unique and completely indispensable." --Nordjyske Stiftstidende