“I had hired the new Hungarian florist in town to do the flower arrangement,” the narrator of Vendela Vida’s new novel says of her father’s funeral. “A mistake. A ruby banner hung diagonally, like a beauty contestant’s sash, across a garish bouquet near the casket. In large silver lettering: BE LOVED.” This tone of dark whimsy suffuses the whole book and accounts for much of its peculiarly biting charm. You’ve seen it before, in movies like Little Miss Sunshine or The Royal Tennenbaums and in books like—well, maybe there aren’t any books that walk this very fine line between high-camp comedy and the lyrical seriousness that Vida’s title portends: Let the Northern Lights Erase Your Name.”
—Madison Smartt Bell, New York Times Book Review
Vida gives the icy landscape an eerie, forbidding beauty, and her writing has . . . great emotional acuity.
—The New Yorker
A luminous and evocative tale of grief, free of the standard cliches.
—Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
Vida has discovered that rare thing—a people’s untold story—and brought it brilliantly to life. A haunted, moving, gorgeous novel. It glows from within like a building made of snow.
—Andrew Sean Greer, author of Less
A taut, intricately layered page-turner that looks deeply and fearlessly into matters of profound human concern.
—Michael Cunningham, author of The Hours
A brilliantly constructed lightning-flash of a novel: compelling, surprising, economical, lush, beautifully written. Reading this book reminded me of how powerful the novel can be—how addictive and vital—and of how rarely a writer as precise, artful, and passionate as Vendela Vida comes along.
—George Saunders, author of Lincoln in the Bardo
In this searing and beautiful novel, a young woman makes her way to the far, far north of the world, where she sets herself the impossible task of learning that which she cannot bear to know. She is funny and fearless and absolutely unforgettable—just like this marvelous book.
—Ann Packer, author of The Dive from Clausen’s Pier
Part prayer, part curse, [Let the Northern Lights Erase Your Name] is a tightly restrained expression of anger and yearning, a strangled cri de coeur. Across its surface runs a frozen stream of bleak comedy, while tragedy churns underneath.
Vida perfectly captures the emotional dimension of Clarissa’s search, showing that the truth, no matter how pockmarked, is preferable to fiction.
The setting is exotic, but the story is timeless. Vendela Vida’s terrific new novel is a taut, tense, terse examination of family and identity. . . . Let the Northern Lights Erase Your Name has the grip and pace of a thriller, all but demanding to be read straight through in one sitting, but Vida’s second novel also manages to plumb a host of profound questions during its relentless drama. . . . Vida’s slim novel manages to examine many weighty questions, including the responsibility of parents, the long aftermath of rape, the power of family secrets, the possibility of creating new life. To be able to raise such matters . . . and still maintain a page-turning pace is a considerable accomplishment, especially in this era when there are way too many doorstop novels bloated on steroids.
Vida’s laconic wit and uncompromising character sketches set her book apart from her generation’s tired quest-for-self genre.
—New York magazine
[A] stirring novel . . . as alive and fascinating as the brilliant atmospheric phenomenon of its title.
New York Times Notable Books of 2007
Kate Chopin Award winner
A San Francisco Chronicle Bestseller
On the day of her father’s funeral, twenty-eight-year-old Clarissa Iverton discovers that he wasn’t her biological father after all. Her mother disappeared fourteen years earlier, and her fiancé has just revealed a life-changing secret to her. Alone and adrift, Clarissa travels to mystical Lapland, where she believes she’ll meet her real father. There, at a hotel made of ice, Clarissa is confronted with the truth about her mother’s history and must make a decision about how—and where—to live the rest
of her life.