Review: Olga Raven “My Work”

Review: Olga Raven "My Work"





Inger Båtveit

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«Anxious, meditative and poetic about becoming a mother.»

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An author and mother of young children encounters a pile of papers since she became pregnant and the first two years of her son’s life. In the aftermath of the birth, she developed anxiety, felt lonely, and started an anxiety group without much effect. The stack of papers is marked with writing while this is happening.

To protect herself from the bad experience, the author of the book imagines that someone other than herself is behind the words. She calls her Anna. Anna’s story about a difficult life as a mother is addressed and completed in Anna’s book – Raven’s last book, My Business. The author of the book is pregnant again, and in a week she will be wrapping up the last day of her first trimester.


At the same time that she detaches from herself in this way, the author of the book dissociates itself. She talks about Anna in the third person, and because of the chaos in the pile of papers, she is unable to sort the notes chronologically.

The book is a mixture of a wide range of genres: prose, medical journals, poetry, discourses, diaries, drama, essay writing, giving it a complex feel. It’s impressive how Ravn masters each of the genres, and makes them work together.

It’s also impressive how Raven makes great literature for something as personal as self-experienced postpartum depression. The publisher describes the book as a novel, while the headlines in Anna’s diary are taken from the reader’s reality and the fact that the book’s narrator is an author, works in a publishing house and is a mother of young children like Raven, contributes to the book’s publication. CV color.

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One of the letters in the book is marked “ANNA”, and thus, with spaces between each letter, which reinforces the impression that the author feels not himself. Throughout the book, she ponders her chance of becoming a writer at the same time as a mother. It makes it hard to be alike when she experiences her son and herself as one. One of the poems in the book reads: “He misses my hand like leather.”

Reclaiming the forgotten years

On the other hand, the author writes a letter to Anna, signed only with “DI”. The deletion of the author’s name in the letters can be read as a stupid admission that Anna and the author are the same person, trying to recover the forgotten years of the author’s life: “To collect and sort these papers and documents into the seventh and last, an attempt to recreate three years of life that disappeared from my memory, which do not I can access it here, just like the reader. “

The title of the book refers to this sorting, to the birth of your child, and to his love. The author finally states that writing the book costs a lot. The common denominator of writing and rebirth in an author’s work tells us that the author experiences writing itself as rebirth. It just ended.

in the same body

Raven sometimes uses the same effective grip as Hahn Orstavik in Ti amo, where the text is close to the environment in which the author is writing, and interruptions are included in the writing. Reflection on the role of the mother as an animal is instinctively similar to what Monica Isaacstoen wrote about being a mother in Be Kind to Animals.

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The occasional sentence in “My Work” seems redundant, like comparing a nebulizer to a breast pump, and realizing a pregnant woman barely before she got pregnant herself. But overall, the book is a poetic, curated, and well-translated story about a bleak and difficult motherhood, and the question of whether a mother and writer can live in the same body at the same time.

Jabori Obasanjo

Jabori Obasanjo

"Coffee trailblazer. Certified pop culture lover. Infuriatingly humble gamer."

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