Thora Hjörleifsdóttir

Translated by Meg Matich
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08 July 2021
208 pages

‘Profane, funny, and uncomfortably honest' – Brandon Taylor

Twenty-year-old Lilja is in love.

He is older and beautiful, a Derrida-quoting intellectual.

He is also a serial cheater, gaslighter and narcissist.

Lilja will do anything to hold on to him.

And so she accepts his deceptions and endures his sexual desires. She rationalizes his toxic behaviour and permits him to cross all her boundaries. In her desperation to be the perfect lover, she finds herself unable to break free from the toxic cycle. And then an unexpected ultimatum: an all-consuming love, or the promise of a life reclaimed.

Thora Hjörleifsdóttir explores the darkest corners of relationships, capturing an ugly, hidden nature of love. In an era of growing pornification, she deftly illustrates the failings of our culture in recognizing symptoms of cruelty. In visceral, poetic prose, translated from Icelandic by Meg Matich, Magma depicts the unspooling of a tender-hearted young woman aching to love and be loved.

Magma is profane, funny, and uncomfortably honest about what happens when we substitute someone’s image of us for self-knowledge.

Brandon Taylor, Vulture

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