What Kingdom

What Kingdom

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Author/Contributor(s): GRABOL, FINE; Aitken, Martin
Publisher: Archipelago
Date: 04/16/2024
Binding: Paperback
Condition: NEW
“An incredibly moving and gripping novel . . . so sure-footed, clear, vibrating, like chiffon or a cigarette.” — Olga Ravn

An incandescent debut about young adults learning how to care for themselves — from within the limits of the psychiatric system

Perfect for fans of Tove Ditlevsen and devotees of Sylvia Plath

In honest, crackling investigations of the psychiatric system and the young people trying to find their way, Gråbøl’s soaring debut offers a critique of institutionalization and an urgent recalibrating of the language and conceptions of care.

“I’m not inarticulate, but I leave language to the room around me,” says Fine Gråbøl’s nameless narrator as she dreams of furniture flickering to life in the room she occupies at a temporary psychiatric care unit for young adults. A chair that greets you, or shiny tiles of floor that follow a peculiar grammar of their own. Our narrator is obsessed with the way items rise up out of their thingness, assuming personalities and private motives. She also cannot sleep, and practices her daily routines with the urgency of survival – peeling a carrot, drinking prune juice – all an acutely calibrated exploration into having a home.

Structured as a series of intimate vignettes like those of Olga Ravn, What Kingdom thrums with the swirling voices of this shared home. Hector blares Michael Jackson from the recreation room and recalls a past in Peru when his psychoses were treated with exorcism. The town would shake the devil out of his small, teenage body before he was relocated to Denmark. Or Marie, who has lived in the temporary unit since she was eighteen, has no idea that her mother lives just four floors below in a permanent care unit.

Echoing the aching writings of Janet Frame on electroconvulsive therapy, or Linda Boström Knausgård’s mythical meditations on silence and mental health, Fine Gråbøl renders a delicate and deep uncoupling from the world.