Lionel Shriver

Why Does She Turn Him into a Mackerel?

Before You Sleep


Picador 291pp £12.99 order from our bookshop

In many respects, Norwegian Linn Ullmann’s Before You Sleep is standard-issue: three Generations of Strong Scandinavian Women. Two sisters emigrate to America in the 1930s, where they both vie for fellow Norwegian Rikard Blom, whose star-struck infatuation with New York City is painfully familiar. One sister marries Rikard, by whom she has two daughters. When Rikard dies after the War, the sisters return to Oslo, bickering over his ashes for the whole voyage back. One of the daughters, Anni, grows up to become both striking and ‘not quite right in the head’ – or so we are incessantly told, even if Anni never seems to do anything especially nutty. Anni has two daughters as well: the hapless, depressive Julie, whose husband cheats on her; and the spunky, aggressive narrator Karin, who is single and sleeps around.

Follow Literary Review on Twitter

  • Last Tweets

    • What a charming, candid blogpost from one of our dear contributing editors. ,
    • RT : The first guess from one of my 1st graders was “death” and such an awed, somber, reflective hush fell over the clas… ,
    • Merry Christmas from Literary Review! Hope your stockings were laden with books, and the tree bending under the weight of further books....,
    • Last minute Christmas gift required? We're offering discounts on all our subscriptions (20% no less!) with the cod… ,
    • In this issue's 'Silenced Voices', Lucy Popescu writes of Thailand's restrictive lese-majesty laws and their latest… ,
    • "Gunn was a disciple of the American formalist Yvor Winters, but Winters’s poetry could never give off such a scent… ,
    • Christmas gift hunting? Why not give the gift of being even better read? We're offering discounts on all our subscr… ,