An existential murder mystery

A danish author, for once, fell into my lap via the library after a very favorable review in one of my newspapers. This is Pia Juul´s "Mordet på Halland" ("The Murder of Halland"). As far as I can see, she is not translated to english, and she is principally a poet, a member of the danish academy. Not being a poetry lover, I had actually never heard of her.

This is a quick read, 160 pages of disconcerted grief after the protagonist´s husband is murdered, shot on the street outside the home. We find out, in the muddled way this woman thinks, about her complicated family situation, and we are, at the end, left with clues to who´s dunnit. Our storyteller, the berieved wife, is, however, not the least bit interested in knowing who did it. And if she can know, she doesn´t tell us, because she just won´t think it.

Every person in this book is a riddle. To themselves, to each other. As a reader, I expect the words to make up stories and in that sense this book is a riddle as well, because Juul somehow manages to write an anti-story. A lot happens between the sentences, between the words, between the chapters, that the protagonist just refuses to register. This is underlined by the fact that she, the grieving wife, is an author, she is a professional storyteller.

And I suppose that is the message of the story: there is no way we can really know what is going on. Real life is in the silence. Which is something to think about. Or should we just stop thinking? Shut up and live.

While this is a short book, I suspect I may not have given it the time it deserves. It should probably be read a bit like poetry, slowly and meditatively. Or maybe not. These poets. They confuse me...

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