The Blue Room

by Hanne Ørstavik


A Guardian Paperback of the Year 2014. A novel about a mother-daughter relationship that will send a chill down your spine.

Johanne is a young woman in her twenties who lives with her mother. When she falls in love with Ivar, she finally feels ready to leave home. The couple plan a trip to America. But the morning of her departure, Johanne wakes up to find the door locked. Can she overcome her fears? Will she shout for help? Will she climb out of her fourth floor window?

Translated from the Norwegian by Deborah Dawkin.

176pp, paperback with flaps, £12
ISBN 978-1-908670-15-1
Publication date: 12 June 2014

Press & Reviews

'The Blue Room is a highly unusual, coolly daring psychological thriller that explores emotional pain and indifference with an unsettling detachment.' Eileen Battersby, The Irish Times

'A work of chilling, masterly control.' Laura Profumo, Times Literary Supplement

'The Blue Room is a corker, and has been written by someone with real literary and psychological intelligence.' Nicholas Lezard, The Guardian

'Ørstavik treats the everyday and existential with intensity.' Max Liu, The Independent

'Psychologically astute and deftly translated... The Blue Room is a brilliant examination of a woman struggling to own her sexuality, to break free from the guilt and forge her own identity.' Lucy Popescu, The Tablet

About The Book


With the publication of her first novel in 1994, Hanne Ørstavik, born in 1969, embarked on a career that has made her one of the most admired authors in contemporary Norwegian literature. Her literary breakthrough came three years later with the publication of Love (Kjærlighet), which in 2006 was voted the sixth best Norwegian book of the last twenty-five years. Since then the author has written several acclaimed novels and has received a number of literary prizes, including the Dobloug Prize, for her entire literary output, and the Brage Prize, Norway’s most prestigious literary award. Ørstavik’s novels have been translated into eighteen languages but never, until now, into English.


Deborah Dawkin trained as an actress, and worked in theater for ten years. She has written creatively and dramatized works, including the poetry of the Norwegian Inger Hagerup. Other translations include Ugly Bugly and Fatso, both by Lars Ramslie and To Music by Ketil Bjørnstad, which was nominated for the Independant Foreign Fiction Prize. She has also worked with Erik Skuggevik on many translations from Norwegian, including Ingar Sletten Kolloen’s biography of Knut Hamsun. They are currently translating eight plays by Ibsen for the new Penguin edition. Deborah has an MA in Social and Cultural History and is working on a PhD on the translator, Michael Meyer.