Before You Sleep

Through the sublimely unreliable voice of its narrator Karin, Before You Sleep reaches back from present-day Oslo to Brooklyn in the 1930s to relate the emotional legacies of the Blom family. Karin is both playful and melancholy - a serial seductress who defines herself in contrast to the women in her life: her mother, Anni, alluring, manipulative, and melodramatic; her sister Julie, a wife and mother undone by suspicions of her husband’s infidelity; her aunt Selma, the world’s angriest old woman; and her soldier-grandmother June who bets that Karin will be the best damn soldier of them all. Inventive and wise, funny and disquieting, “Before You Sleep” marked the arrival of a gifted new literary voice.

Reviews

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Praise for Before You Sleep

[Ullmann] is a fabulously gifted writer … Before you sleep succeeds in every way a novel should succeed.
– BOSTON GLOBE (USA)
Linn Ullmann’s eloquent first novel … Before You Sleep has its own sophisticated literary shape and a fine eye for the subterfuges that lurk beneath marriages and love affairs … With its many flashbacks and its meditative approach, the story entices readers with a gentle rhythm, as if it were a bedtime story giving way to a nightmare … a perceptive and sparkling new creation
– CARYN JAMES, THE NEW YORK TIMES (USA)
Norwegian author and critic Ullmann debuts with this intriguing, looping meditation on the history of the Blom family, told by young Karin in jagged, emotionally oblique prose … Density accrues in vivid, impressionistically recalled scenes, rather than in sophisticated plot devices, and the emotional acuity is highly original, and often absorbing
– KIRKUS REVIEW (USA)
Ullmann’s touch is light as she explores a range of fiery topics. Immigration, assimilation, sibling rivalry, romance, fidelity, infidelity, patriotism, honor, and loyalty are woven into this slice-of-life look at one clan struggling to love and support its own. Originally published in Norway, this novel is currently a number one best seller throughout Scandinavia. Luckily, American readers will soon be able to join European fans in singing its praises. Highly recommended
– LIBRARY JOURNAL (USA)
A rich portrayal of mother-daughter relationships, Ullmann’s ambitious first novel spans nearly 70 years and four generations of a Norwegian family perpetually in battle with itself … Ullmann deftly offsets her slow-building drama with Karin’s fantasy sequences and perversely uproarious caricatures of family members. Ullmann, who has lived in both Oslo and New York, always provides fine background detail, but it is the irrepressible Blom women who attract the reader’s sympathy
– PUBLISHERS WEEKLY (USA)
[Ullmann’s] storytelling skills and sheer joy in performance shine on every page.
– SARAH KERR, VOGUE (USA)
Ullmann’s imagination … is informed by a love of the intricacies of family life, of the ties that bind
– THE NEW YORKER (USA)