Auður Ava Ólafsdóttir: Rigning í nóvember (Butterflies in November)


The latest addition to my website is Auður Ava Ólafsdóttir‘s Rigning í nóvember (Butterflies in November), another quirky novel from this author. The unnamed narrator of this novel is a thirty-three old woman who works as a translator, proof-reader and editor (and occasionally supplies additional sexual services to her clients). Her marriage is falling apart after almost five years, not least because her husband’s colleague is expecting his baby in eight weeks. Despite this, they are struggling to separate, though it is clear that they are different people and have difficulty in communicating with one another. Eventually, he does go, taking most of the furniture and fittings from their flat and she moves to her studio workplace. Meanwhile, a medium, recommended by her friend, Auður, has told her that she will win the lottery and that a series of things will happen in threes over the near future. When she does win a ready-made mobile summer bungalow, made by deaf people, she decides to take a summer holiday, though it is late October, when the weather in Iceland is really grim. However, Auður, who is pregnant, slips and falls and sprains her ankle and goes to hospital. When it is determined that she is pregnant with twins, she is detained in hospital. She asks the narrator to look after her deaf, partially sighted four-year old (the father has long since gone) and the narrator has no option but to take the boy, Tumi, on holiday with her, though she really does not like children. Much of the novel is about their adventures, as they set out for her late grandparents’ unheated bungalow in Eastern Iceland, and her relationship with Tumi and their encounters with Estonian singers, biblical floods, a falcon and various men whom Tumi sees as his lost father and the narrator – well, she is not sure how she sees them. It is quirky and well-written though not, perhaps, as good as Afleggjarinn (The Greenhouse), though it must be the only novel to include a recipe for undrinkable coffee.

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