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AZORNO by Inger Christensen
Translated by Denise Newman
Many authors have found innovative ways to chip through the fourth wall. In Azorno, Inger Christensen comes running in with a sledgehammer on the first page. It’s one of my favourite opening lines in recent memory: “I’ve learned that I’m the woman he first meets on page eight.” Just sublime. And the perfect entry point to this puzzling kaleidoscope of shifting perspectives and stories, where four women and two men jockey for ownership of a tale none (or all) can really tell. One might be the author, another the main character in his novel. All the women are pregnant, most likely by the author. Or they might just be characters, too. Unless, one of them is writing the story. And then there is a murder. Maybe.
It’s easy to get lost in Azorno, but the whole thing is such mad fun that you’re better off just giving yourself over to Christensen’s vision without asking too many questions. I’ve seen comparisons to Beckett and they’re not wrong. It’s just that you’’ll likely enjoy the experience of reading Christensen more than the difficult (though obliquely hilarious) Dubliner. Literally a book in which to get lost.
Azorno by Inger Christensen (Tr. Denise Newman)
New Directions, 2009