A gorgeous, spiraling slow burn of a book ... Contrasting threads of birth and death, dark and light, clutter and space, weave a tapestry of sentences reminiscent of the grand-aunt’s elaborate embroideries ... To read this book is to immerse oneself in the natural world of Iceland. Vivid descriptions of weather and landscape, animals and plants, star-filled night skies and slivers of sunrises fill the pages and are never boring ... Daily moments of beauty and meaning enable Dómhildur and her grand-aunt to face the precariousness and harshness of life on our planet without much flinching, and remind us we can do the same – a necessary book for our time.
A probing, discursive meditation on the implications of a midwife as 'mother of light' ... FitzGibbon seamlessly handles many such lexical allusions and double meanings, and deserves special mention for the straightforward beauty of Fífa's writings and the novel's final poetic page ... Dýja's character arc is largely psychological, processing and letting go, as a historic storm approaches Iceland. Her progress is halting, but fitting for a novel that emphasizes the difficulty of navigating a world full of some people who 'bring light with them,' and others who 'try to drag you into their darkness.'
Every novel by Audur Ava Olafsdottir is a multifaceted gem, with a sparkle concealing dark hues and sharp edges ... Deftly translated ... A tranquil yet compelling meditation on life and death, darkness and light, from a reliably thought-provoking novelist.
Although they’re rendered allusively in stripped-down prose, when taken together, these moments powerfully undermine easy understandings of family as safe haven and of motherhood as unfailingly nurturing. They underscore the ferocity of any struggle for separation, whether through birth, death, grief, or simply growing up, the rupture necessary for individuation ... Against this violence, language is a character all its own.
Explores life’s ordinary extremes, dealing with light and darkness, birth and death, and animality and humanity ... Animal Life is a subtle and stunning work for anyone who has felt the impact of an ancestor, who has lost themselves to a past that feels like their own.
Quiet and meditative ... Nothing much happens, but only in the way that one could say nothing much happens on any given day, the rhythms of which the author captures perfectly. The result is a rich slice of life.
Rudimentary plot aside, the real focus of the book is on Dýja’s ruminations about her own and Fífa’s belief systems about life and death ... Like her characters, Ólafsdóttir’s novel is emotionally chilly while intellectually passionate.