Out on 08 July 2021


Thora Hjörleifsdóttir

Translated by Meg Matich
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08 July 2021
160 pages

‘A compulsive and propulsive debut’ Lily King

‘A luminous and poetic novel . . . [Hjörleifsdóttir] has created a whole new landscape for storytelling’ John Freeman

Twenty-year-old Lilja is in love. She becomes smitten with an older, handsome university student who reads Latin, quotes philosophy and cooks balanced, vegetarian meals. In no time, she moves into his cramped flat. Seduced by the newfound intimacy of a shared bed and showers, and fuelled by the desire to please her partner, she doesn’t realize when his quiet and pervasive manipulations start to unravel her.

His acts of imperceptible abuse continue to mount as their relationship develops. Desperate to rationalize his behaviour and be the perfect lover, Lilja gradually permits him to cross all boundaries, unable to break free from the toxic cycle. And then an unexpected ultimatum: an all-consuming love, or the promise of a life reclaimed.

Urgent and visceral, Thora Hjörleifsdóttir explores the darkest corners of relationships, exposing the commonplace undercurrents of violence that often go undetected. In an era of growing pornification, she deftly illustrates the failings of our culture to recognize symptoms of cruelty. In gripping, poetic prose that has been translated into English by Meg Matich, Magma depicts the unspooling of a tender-hearted young woman aching to love and be loved.

A compulsive, propulsive debut about a young woman’s exploration of love and sex . . . Thora Hjorleifsdottir’s narrator pulls us into the tale of her near undoing and her struggle to find her own value.

Lily King, author of Writers & Lovers

A luminous and poetic novel . . . How to describe the slow escalation by which possession becomes control, and power abuse? [Hjörleifsdóttir] has created a whole new landscape for storytelling.

John Freeman, author of How to Read a Novelist

A novel that speaks directly to its present age . . . An incredibly compelling book

Iceland National Radio