Norwegian / Norway
[Oslo]: Cappelen Damm, 2016. – 171 p.
Argentina | Norway | Au pair | Loneliness | Speechlessness | Transculturalism
Reading age: 14+
White Ravens issue: 2016
“Monika grabs the dictionary. She goes to the letter ‘S’ and moves her index finger down the page. She stops at the word ‘sadness.’ I open my dictionary and locate ‘understand.’” The first-person narrator in this novel experiences what Ludwig Wittgenstein observed: “The limits of my language mean the limits of my world.” In this story, an Argentinian au pair girl in Norway becomes painfully aware of the fact that, without language, there can hardly be any closeness, any “I”. If one lacks words, one cannot express what one is thinking, nor what one is feeling. One becomes invisible. Veronica Salinas, herself from Argentina, has written her novel in her adopted language of Norwegian. With precision and without pathos, she describes loneliness and sadness, but also persistence, since the first-person narrator gradually masters the language and the country, even though she remains “an other”. “Og” (And), the novel’s ultra-concise title, hits the mark: the narrator develops new facets of herself, without forgetting her roots.