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In Translation: Vigdis Hjorth and Astrid Roemer on Mothers with Anderson Tepper

Friday, 7:00 pm EDT May 10, 2024

The Center for Fiction
& Livestreamed

Vigdis Hjorth and Astrid Roemer, icons of Norwegian and Dutch-language literature, join The Center for Fiction for a discussion of their groundbreaking novels. In Hjorth’s Is Mother Dead, translated by Charlotte Barslund, a middle-aged, recently widowed artist prepares for a retrospective of her work—a controversial exploration of motherhood that has brought about a rift between her and her aging mother. Set on edge by new proximity, the two women find themselves in a cat and mouse game of surveillance and psychological torment. Roemer’s Off-White, translated by Lucy Scott and David McKay, chronicles the life of Grandma Bee, the proud matriarch of the Vanta family, which has an intricate mix of different heritages—Creole, Maroon, Indian, Indigenous, Jewish and more—reflecting the complex history of Suriname. Set in 1966, the novel follows Grandma Bee at the end of her life as she reflects on the family she has lost, including a granddaughter who was sent away to the Netherlands after an affair with her white teacher. Writer and literary curator Anderson Tepper will moderate a rich discussion on language, complex family relationships, the aftermath of colonialism, and craft. After the conversation, Hjorth and Roemer will sign books.

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In Conversation

  • Vigdis Hjorth_credit Agnete Brun

    Vigdis Hjorth

    Vigdis Hjorth

    Vigdis Hjorth is the author of over a dozen prize-winning and best-selling novels. Will and Testament sold 170,000 copies in Norway and has received several awards, including the Norwegian Critics Prize for Literature and the Norwegian Booksellers’ Prize, as well as being nominated for the National Book Award and Nordic Council Literature Prize. Long Live the Post Horn! won the Believer Book Award for fiction in 2020, and Is Mother Dead was listed for the International Booker Prize in 2023.

    Photo Credit: Agnete Brun

  • Astrid Roemer (Raúl Neijhorst)

    Astrid Roemer

    Astrid Roemer

    At the age of 19, Astrid Roemer emigrated from Suriname to the Netherlands. She identifies herself as a cosmopolitan writer. Exploring themes of race, gender, family, and identity, her poetic, unconventional prose stands in the tradition of authors such as Toni Morrison and Alice Walker. She was awarded the P.C. Hooft Award in 2016 and the three-yearly Dutch Literature Prize (Prijs der Nederlandse Letteren) in 2021. On a Woman’s Madness, her English-language debut in Lucy Scott’s translation, was shortlisted for the National Book Award for Translated Literature.

    Photo Credit: Raúl Neijhorst

  • AT contributor photo

    Anderson Tepper

    Anderson Tepper

    Anderson Tepper is curator of world literature at City of Asylum in Pittsburgh and a member of the international committee of the Brooklyn Book Festival. Formerly of Vanity Fair, he writes regularly on books and authors for a variety of publications, including the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, and World Literature Today.

    Photo Credit: Melanie Dunea