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One of Us Is Sleeping

We know so very little; so little that what we think to be knowledge is hardly worth reckoning with at all; instead we ought to settle for being pleasantly surprised if, on the edge of things, against all expectations, our assumption should be disproved.

If it turns out we know just a fragment of the world.

Constant motion, collapsing buildings and meticulous work in stone. The unfamiliar as a wall we must forever scrabble to remove in order to find our humanity there and perhaps even love someone.

The first of Josefine Klougart’s award-winning novels to be translated into english, One of Us Is Sleeping (Én af os sover) is a dolorous, yet beautifully composed work of failed love, loss, and lament. The star of Klougart’s book is her gorgeous, evocative imagery and emotional acuity. With grief aplenty—mourning the fated end of a romantic relationship, as well as her ill mother—the Danish author’s sorrowful narrator is ever-conflicted, trying as she does to move beyond what’s been, despite being eternally bound to it.

The past does not come creeping in the form of images, it’s there all the time, tugging at your sleeve, trailing along behind you, occasionally wanting to be lifted up and carried.

The uncertainty, instability, doubt, regret, and longing that so often follow a failed relationship are richly and realistically conveyed. Klougart’s narrator’s emotional turmoil (punctuated, staccato) are quite nearly palpable and viscerally received. One of Us Is Sleeping, as much a series of thematically linked poetic offerings as a novel proper, is graceful and unforgettable. As Klougart’s narrator strives for clarity, understanding, and consolation, she’s left, as the rest of us undoubtedly are, to make sense of her own perceptions and boldly reassemble for herself the pieces of her shattered, shattering heart.

How naïve I’ve been, I think to myself. Or rather: how lonely. How closely I scrutinized, how clearly I saw it all in my mind—all that nearly was. The person who could love, almost; this almost-love, forever postponed, something else in its place. What, exactly. Reality. Whatever that is. Yours, I suppose.



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