Winner of an English PEN Award Nominated for the 2021 Nordic Council Literature Prize Shortlisted for the 2021 European Union Prize for Literature
Powerfully inventive and atmospheric, Strega is a modern gothic story of nine young women on the cusp of inheriting society's submission to violence, and the age-long myths that uphold itWith little boxes of liquorice, hairbands, and notebooks in her bag, Rafa arrives at the remote Alpine town of Strega to work at the grand Olympic Hotel. There, she and eight other girls receive the stiff uniforms of seasonal workers and are taught to iron, cook, and make the beds by austere matrons. In spare moments between tasks, the girls start to enjoy each other's company as they pick herbs in the garden, read in the library, and take in the scenery. But when the hotel suddenly fills with people for a raucous party, one of the girls disappears. What follows are deeper revelations about the myths young women are told, what they are raised to expect from the world, the violence they are made to endure, and, ultimately, the question of whether a gentler, more beautiful life is possible. A monument to long-dead maids and their shrouded knowledge, Johanne Lykke Holm's luminescent and jagged prose, delivered in Saskia Vogel's incisive translation, resonates like a spell that keeps exerting its powers long after reading.
A work of mythic reinvention about the power of girls coming of age in a world hellbent on containing their passions and imaginations... Strega left me breathless, angry, and then thrilled by the dare it leaves in the reader's lap; - Lidia Yuknavitch, author of Thrust and The Chronology of Water; Utterly immersive, Strega is a modern-day fairy tale in the primeval sense, a visceral, hallucinatory allegory of coming into womanhood. It's at once timeless and completely new, with surprising and evocative prose - a glittering translation of a masterful work - Julia Fine, author of The Upstairs House and What Should Be Wild; If Fleur Jaeggy and Shirley Jackson had ever spent the night together in The Shining Hotel, their love child might have been Strega. As it was, this Strega came into the world through a different yet equally miraculous union: that of a writer and a translator of extraordinary talent. Its hypnotic, off-kilter prose dances the reader into a state of gloried frenzy, pressing the sometimes-nightmarish buttons of imagined memory as it probes the essence of being young, searching, and exploited; - Polly Barton, translator and author of Fifty Sounds ; Strega is a charm: its vivid details work eerie magic. In sumptuous, prickly prose, Johanne Lykke Holm unsettles and astonishes her reader; - Isobel Wohl, author of Cold New Climate; Strega is the kind of book Lolita would write if she wrote like Thomas Mann. This book is sprawling with heart-shaped mirrors in wet grass, peach-coloured bedding, neon lights, knives. All the paraphernalia of patriarchal violence. Johanne Lykke Holm is from the school of Fleur Jaeggy and Frank Wedekind, she uses the young women as her stage and transports you to another world, where everything is scenography. As uncompromising and brilliant as she is disturbing, I am forever devoted to the cult of her; - Olga Ravn, author of The Employees
- Winner of English PEN Award 2022
- Runner-up for Nordic Council Literature Prize 2021
- Short-listed for European Union Prize for Literature 2021
Dimensions: 204mm x 132mm x 18mm