Cover image for Unquiet : a novel
Title:
Unquiet : a novel
Author:
Ullmann, Linn, 1966- author.
Uniform Title:
Urolige. English
Publication Information:
New York : W.W. Norton & Company, [2019]
Physical Description:
392 pages ; 22 cm
Summary:
Presents a genre-bending novel about time, memory, and the author's extraordinary childhood as the daughter of a genius filmmaker and his muse.
General Note:
Originally published in Norwegian as De Urolige.
Language:
English
Added Author:
ISBN:
9780393609943
Format :
Book

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Summary

Summary

He is a renowned Swedish filmmaker and has a plan for everything. She is his daughter, the youngest of nine children. Every summer, since she was a little girl, she visits him at his beloved stony house surrounded by woods, poppies, and the Baltic sea. Now that she's grown up and he's in his late eighties, he envisions a book about old age. He worries that he's losing his language, his memory, his mind. Growing old is hard work, he says. They will write it together. She will ask the questions. He will answer them.When she finally comes to the island, bringing her tape recorder with her, old age has caught up with him in ways neither could have foreseen.Unquiet follows the narrator as she unearths these taped conversations seven years later. Swept into memory, she reimagines the story of a father, a mother, and a girl--a child who can't wait to grow up and parents who would rather be children.A heartbreaking and darkly funny depiction of the intricacies of family, Unquiet is an elegy of memory and loss, identity and art, growing up and growing old. Linn Ullmann nimbly blends memoir and fiction in her most inventive novel yet, weaving a luminous meditation on language, mourning, and the many narratives that make up a life.


Author Notes

Linn Ullmann is the author of six award-winning, critically acclaimed novels, and her work has been published in more than thirty languages. Her previous novel, The Cold Song, was a New York Times Notable Book. Unquiet has received multiple awards and spent more than a year on top of the of Scandinavian bestseller lists. In 2017, Ullmann was awarded the Dobloug Prize from the Swedish Academy for her body of work. She lives in Oslo with her husband and daughter.


Reviews 3

Booklist Review

Ullmann's lithe sixth novel (following The Cold Song, 2014) flickers like film threaded through a projector, shifting between dark and light, past and present, autobiography and fiction. Like the author, who is the daughter of Ingmar Bergman and Liv Ullmann, the book's self-deprecating narrator is the daughter of a legendary Swedish director and the much-younger woman who starred in some of his most famous films. Her father has nine children with five women. She is the youngest, and her parents, who never married, weren't together long. She now looks back on a jaggedly disjointed childhood briefly redeemed by precious summer weeks with her father in his orderly home on a spare Swedish island. Papa had been so punctual and disciplined that the eventual effects of age's cruel diminishments on him disorient everyone. The narrator manages to record six late-life interviews with him, and brief excerpts appear within her gracefully exquisite, sharply funny, and richly poignant reminiscences. In order to write about real people, Ullmann's stand-in observes, . . . it is necessary to make them fictional. I believe this is the only way of breathing life into them. Ullmann's homage to family, art, beauty, and love is resplendently vital, and enchantingly evocative.--Donna Seaman Copyright 2019 Booklist


Publisher's Weekly Review

Ullmann's spellbinding novel (after The Cold Song) is a fragmentary portrait of a place and time, and a testament to the legacies of those she mourns. Blending memoir and literary fiction, this book presents revelatory, frank depictions of the author's relationship to her father, legendary filmmaker Ingmar Bergman, and of his relationship to the author's mother, Liv Ullmann, an actress and filmmaker often considered to be his greatest inspiration. Based originally on a brief series of taped conversations between Ullmann and her father just before his death, Ullmann confronts the nature of growing old while subtly studying her own childhood and middle age through the lens of her father's decline. She reminisces on her often idyllic and tumultuous youth, studying stacks of love letters between her parents, and considering the situations that must have brought the life of her family to where it is. Some of Ullmann's best passages are about her charming, confounding mother: "Mamma's rules for good parenting: 1. Children must drink milk. 2. Children must live near trees." Echoing Duras's The Lover in its blurring of the real and the imagined as well as in its obsessive attention to detail, this is a striking book about the enduring love between parents and children, and the fierce attachments that bind them even after death. (Jan.) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.


Library Journal Review

A daughter assembles the pieces of her father's long life, and in doing so gathers some of the pieces of her own life as well. In this case, her parents are the acclaimed actress Liv Ullman and the legendary Swedish filmmaker Ingmar Bergman. The author meets with her father as he nears the end of his days in a treasured spot near the Baltic Sea, where she records their conversations, until it finally becomes apparent that his memory is failing. A few years after his passing, she creates a story, part memoir and part fiction, that features their private talks interspersed with her own charming, clear-eyed memories as a young girl fortunate to enjoy a way of life that was at once simple yet steeped in culture. VERDICT To examine the soul of Ingmar Bergman, a man so private and so iconic, requires much deconstruction and reconstruction, not unlike the careful editing of a film. Ullman succeeds on every level, blending time, memory, and emotion into a fascinating and intimate portrait that easily evokes the universal sense of love and loss. Highly recommended.-Susanne Wells, Indianapolis P.L. © Copyright 2019. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.