The Gradual Disappearance of Jane Ashland
Translated from the Norwegian by Anna Paterson
Even those who have lost everything, still have something to lose.
An American woman wakes up alone in a tent in the Norwegian mountains. Outside a storm rages and the fog is dense. She has no map, no compass, and no food.
Jane Ashland, we soon discover, is a novelist with a bad case of writer’s block—she had come to Norway to seek out distant relatives and family history, but when her trip went awry, she tethered herself to a zoologist she met by chance on the plane, joining him on a trek to see the musk oxen of the Dovrefjell mountain range.
At once elegant and gripping, The Gradual Disappearance of Jane Ashland moves seamlessly between Jane’s life in American and the extraordinary landscape of the Norwegian mountains. As we gradually unpack the emotional debris of her past—troubled Midwestern parents, a loving courtship in New York, and a cruel, sudden tragedy that rearranged everything—we begin to understand what led her to this lonely landscape.
“A virtuosic magic-act . . . [Houm] conjures up the emotional arc of a female life—from childhood loneliness through intense love to midlife derailment—in just 226 undersized pages.”
“Austerely wrenching and darkly comic . . . A winning novel.”
“Provocative and gripping.”
“In Nicolai Houm’s hands Jane Ashland, and her gradual disappearance, become a darkly hilarious, deeply compelling, and utterly suspenseful story. I couldn’t wait to find out what Jane would say or do next, how far she would go. A brilliant and fascinating novel.”
—Margot Livesey, author of Mercury
“The Gradual Disappearance of Jane Ashland sounds the great echoing spaces of profound grief, grief that threatens to rob life of sense or direction. Nicolai Houm reminds us of what we don’t want to know: that rehearsing disaster may not prevent it from happening. His prose is mordant, his heart compassionate, and he keeps his readers as tantalizingly off-kilter as his titular seeking soul.”
—Pamela Erens, author of Eleven Hours