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About this book
Sofi Oksanen • Owen Witesman
From the international bestselling author of Purge and When the Doves Disappeared comes a spellbinding new novel set in present-day Helsinki about a young woman with a fantastical secret who is trying to solve the mystery of her mother’s death.
When Anita Naakka jumps in front of an oncoming train, her daughter, Norma, is left alone with the secret they have spent their lives hiding: Norma has supernatural hair, sensitive to the slightest changes in her mood — and the moods of those around her — moving of its own accord, corkscrewing when danger is near. And so it is her hair that alerts her, while she talks with a strange man at her mother’s funeral, that her mother may not have taken her own life.
Setting out to reconstruct Anita’s final months — sifting through puzzling cell phone records, bank statements, video files — Norma begins to realize that her mother knew more about her hair’s power than she let on: a sinister truth beyond Norma’s imagining.
As Sofi Oksanen leads us deeper into Norma’s world, weaving together past and present, she gives us a dark family drama that is a searing portrait of both the exploitation of women’s bodies and the extremes to which people will go for the sake of beauty.
About the Author
SOFI OKSANEN is a Finnish-Estonian novelist and playwright. Her novel Purge won the Prix Femina and the Nordic Council Literature Prize, and When the Doves Disappeared was the winner of the Swedish Academy Nordic Prize and longlisted for the International Dublin Literary Award. Her latest novel, Norma, is a #1 bestseller in Finland and has been shortlisted for the Young Aleksis Literature Prize. She has also received the Budapest Grand Prize and the European Book Prize. She lives in Helsinki.
Awards and Praise
“[An] ambitious contemporary fantasy novel . . . Oksanen creates intricate characters and imagery.” — Publishers Weekly
“Norma is addictive, lucid, breathtakingly suspenseful, and on top of this stunningly observant, eerily well-researched, critical, with feminist overtones and very, very relatable.” — Affärsmagasinet Forum (Finland)
“Oksanen, author of the internationally bestselling Purge, has a rather delightful imagination, and it is a wonder to watch her spin her outrageous story with the utter seriousness of your average thriller.” — Star Tribune
“An amazing, cunningly far-fetched feminist thriller. . . . Norma is a touching depiction of an outsider trying to escape her fate of becoming a freak, lined with a social criticism denouncing the commercial exploitation of women’s bodies, from their wombs to their hair.” — L’obs (France)
“Sofi Oksanen is never boring, often political, and possesses a rare ability to find stories that are told as if from an angle, perspectives that make one’s perception of, for instance, a phenomenon or historical event take on a different character. She has an infallible talent for characterizations, moods, and dialogue.” — Smålandsposten (Sweden)
“Oksanen’s Norma is, in short, a highly topical and elegant double-edged thriller for our time.” — Expressen (Sweden)
“To me, Norma is a page-turner that makes me smile in delight over its whimsicality, but likewise from time to time be moved by the exploitation of women who here — despite the fictive setting — feel utterly in line with reality.” — Sveriges Radio (Sweden)
“A surprising suspense novel . . . The patient reader is rewarded with a unique mix of raw mafia and mystery. ” — Lektør (Denmark)
“The author shows us that she is able to renew herself brilliantly and explore new territories, keeping the narrative power she is known for, as well as an obvious skill in grasping the darkness and the complexity of the world.” — Le journal du dimanche (France)
“Norma is a thriller where magic stands alongside realism. . . . The position of women and the fight against the exploitation of their bodies is at the heart of Sofi Oksanen’s concerns.” — Le point (France)