Susannah Dickey

14 September 2023
128 pages


A Guardian and Irish Times Book of 2023

The much-anticipated debut poetry collection from acclaimed novelist Susannah Dickey, on the subject of our cultural obsession with true crime.

ISDAL is a timely interrogation of the true crime genre. In the first of its three parts, we follow the flirty co-presenters of a podcast about the mystery of 'Isdal Woman', whose burnt remains were discovered in Norway in 1970 and who has never been identified.

At the centre of the book is an inquiry into our perennial obsession with female victims, sexiness, and death: ‘The death in question has already occurred’, the poet observes, ‘has occurred to someone sufficiently abstract as to allow us to romp gainfully, guilelessly, guiltlessly through a simulacrum of death’s corridors’.

The free verse poems in the final section both explore and – perhaps inevitably – enact the ethical ambiguities of the genre. Witty, excoriating, formally ingenious, ISDAL marks the arrival of a thrilling talent in contemporary poetry.

A poet of tremendous imaginative range, artistic vision, and accomplishment
Susannah Dickey’s bloodthirsty for marriage made me think of Alice Notley in its urgency and playfulness. But Dickey is more surreal, more vivid; there are more dead gerbils. These are poems that scorch the earth with their originality and then write out of the ashes.
A rare talent, and certainly one to watch.