Siss and Unn
Original title: Siss og Unn
Publisher: Forlaget Oktober, 2008
Pages: 175 pages
Unn lives in a tiny village with her mother, Mummy Big, who loves her daughter, but who is unable to overcome the grief of having been abandoned by Unn’s father when Unn was still a little girl. When Mummy Big suddenly falls ill and dies, Unn moves in with her aunt, a kind, but taciturn woman.
When the far more extrovert Siss moves to the village from Sweden, a beautiful friendship starts developing between the two girls. The novel follows Siss and Unn from their first meeting as young girls through early womanhood. As they enter university, their relationship starts taking a dark turn – one of them thrives, while the other is destroyed.
In an effective and intelligent manner, Bråtveit borrows elements from as seemingly disparate literary forms as the lyrical symbolism of modernist master Tarjei Vesaas, the whimsical lightness of ladies’ fashion magazines and the impending doom of the greek tragedy. Siss and Unn is a hauntingly beautiful exploration of women’s lives today, of their relations with each other as friends, mothers and daughters, and of the psychological costs of the constraints and expectations imposed on them by modern culture.
Nominated to the Critics Prize in 2008