Resin by Ane Riel Translated by Charlotte Barslund
The story traces the life of Jens Horder, from his childhood spent in an isolated part of Denmark with his parents and older brother. The death of his father, to whom he is very attached, affects him deeply, and when his brother goes away to work, Jens becomes even more introverted. His mother, finding it hard to cope, employs a young girl called Maria, and she marries Jens. Their daughter Liv is very close to her father and spends most of her time with him in isolation but Jens, still feeling the loss of his loved ones, wants to keep her close. The dysfunction in the family spirals out of control when he reports Liv as dead, but keeps her hidden at home so that no one will ever come and take her away.
“In time, I learned that we were not like other people.”
“Perhaps the resin was a kind of pine-scented high, an aromatic stimulant he couldn’t do without. Or perhaps Jens genuinely believed that he would one day find a use for all the coagulated resin he kept in his workshop – a big, dark mass of irregularly shaped lumps that were reluctant to let go of one another.”
“We also had animals inside the house now. There were rabbits everywhere. I can’t imagine where they had come from – we only had two to begin with.”
“I liked posing, sitting still as Dad drew me, because I could watch him and keep an eye on his hair and his beard, which was growing bigger and bigger.”
” … the postman was the only one who insisted on drinking nothing but Red Tuborg; then again, he was a few stamps short of full postage.”
The originality of this story piqued my interest immediately. Each character has a distinct voice, the author leading the reader into their minds and emotions – and there’s a lot for the reader to process. As the family descends into more and more dysfunction, the tension is palpable – hard to read, but even harder not to keep on reading. The story is tragic, but in my opinion handled so well by the author that I felt more sympathetic than horrified. I won’t be able to stop thinking about this story for a long time. Very highly recommended.
The Skinny:“Resin expertly navigates a wealth of themes – obsession, grief, love, and innocence and childhood – and binds them together in a cleverly crafted, gripping tale. Addictive, brutal and honest, Resin is an emotional rollercoaster.”
European Literature Network: “The narrative mixes elements that are both macabre and humane, and the psychological examination of obsession – the father’s bizarre and overprotective attempts to keep his daughter ‘safe’ – is handled with immense skill. All of the characters (notably Liv herself) are richly drawn, and the fact that the book has accrued four of Scandinavia’s most lauded prizes is absolutely no surprise. Neither, for that matter, is the fact that literary critics in UK have been lining up to praise the book.”
AWARDS: Glass Key Award (2016), Gullkulen/The Golden Bullet (2017)