Paradise Rot

by Jenny Hval, Marjam Idriss (Translator)

Hyper-sensual, surreal and as intense as bletted fruit.

Norwegian student, Jo, arrives in a new country to study biology. The strangeness of her new life becomes stranger still when she finds accommodation in a former brewery. The building is rotten to the core. Through its paper-thin, partial partitions, Jo hears every movement of its other occupant, Carral.

I lay awake in my new bed and listened to Carral leaf through the pages of a book. I heard her fingers scrape the rough paper, the spine creak and the binding tighten. Later when I woke up my light was out but I could make out a glimmering halo of light over her bedroom wall, and in almost imperceptible noises at night I imagined hearing the hint of her curls falling over her cheek as she turned. Later the fridge started to hum. I was sure I heard tiny ripples on the surface of the milk inside its carton.

Through Hval’s lens, the world is examined in the closest detail, and is transformed by its symbolism.

She held the bag while I put the apples in it, yellow-brown and red, soft and wet. I got them from the cupboards, the mezzanine and from the kitchen bench. I picked up the apples that had fallen to the floor and rolled along the floorboards. A sticky dark-red Bloody Ploughman got stuck to my hand, and I thought about Carral’s comment about Eve and the forbidden fruit; imagining I was cleaning up after the Fall.

A dreamy, hallucinatory tale of sexual awakening.

Oozes with an atmosphere as moistly close as a Wardian case.

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