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parsed(2023-08-11) - pubdate: 2023-08-11
pub date: 1691730000
today: 1713502800, pubdate > today = false

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We Are Light

August 11, 2023 | Trade paperback
ISBN: 9781642861273
Reader Reward Price: $24.75 info
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"A riveting experimental novel about a commune where the members' belief that they can live on light and love alone proves fatal for one of them.-Publishers Weekly, starred review

One apartment, three women, one man. One of the women is dead. When the emergency personnel arrive, they realize: Elisabeth starved to death, encouraged by her roommates.

Winner of the 2021 European Union Literature Prize

In the middle of a summer night, Elisabeth, the oldest resident of the Sound & Love Commune, dies. Her sister Melodie and their two other housemates are arrested: the group's attempts to stop eating and start living on light and love alone appears to have been fatal to Elisabeth. From unworldly idealists on the fringes of society, the three suddenly become suspects in a criminal case. Through the eyes of the night, the neighbors, doubt, the scent of an orange, and many other characters and entities, we see how each of those involved gives a different answer to the question of how Elisabeth came to die. Who is to blame? And does the commune still have a future? We Are Light is a highly original and entertaining novel about manipulation, vulnerability, and trying to be better.

About this Author

Gerda Blees is a Dutch author and poet. She taught at various universities for several years while doing linguistic research on Dutch-German lingua receptiva--conversations in which each person speaks their own language. We Are Light, Blees's debut novel, won the EU Literature Prize as well as the prestigious Dutch Booksellers Award in 2021. It was also shortlisted for the Libris Literature Award. The author recently completed a bachelor's degree in fine arts at the Gerrit Rietveld Academie in Amsterdam while living with her family in Woerden.

Michele Hutchison studied at UEA, Cambridge, and Lyon universities and worked in publishing for a number of years. In 2004, she moved to Amsterdam. Among the many works she has translated are La Superba by Ilja Leonard Pfeijffer, Slaves to Fortune by Tom Lanoye, both Craving and Roxy by Esther Gerritsen, and Stadium IV by Sander Kollaard, for which she received the Vondel Translation Prize 2020. In the same year, her translation of Marieke Lucas Rijneveld's novel The Discomfort of Evening was awarded the International Booker Prize. She also co-authored the successful parenting book, The Happiest Kids in the World.

ISBN: 9781642861273
Format: Trade paperback
Pages: 240
Publisher: World Editions
Published: 2023-08-11


Praise for We Are Light

"A riveting experimental novel about a commune where the members' belief that they can live on light and love alone proves fatal for one of them.-Publishers Weekly, starred review

In Gerda Blees's novel We Are Light, a woman's quiet, bizarre death exposes the tragic gap between ethics and legality. The leader of the Sound & Love Commune, Melodie manipulates loyalty and obedience from her small group of followers. When she tells them they can survive on light rather than food, they listen, even as Melodie's sister Elisabeth starves to death before their eyes. We Are Light is a haunting novel in which obsession, mental illness, and deferred dreams lead to complex, compounding tragedies.-Foreword Reviews, starred review

"The ramifications of today's collective isolation form the crux of the contemporary crises scrutinized in Gerda Blees's incisive debut novel We Are Light, now available from World Editions in Michele Hutchison's translation. Originally published in Blees's native Netherlands in 2020, during the initial pandemic lockdown, the novel won the European Union Prize for Literature the following year. We Are Light evaluates the culpability and interdependence of cohabitating commune members after one of them dies from severe malnutrition." -LA Review of Books    

"An ingenious and highly original composition. What emerges is a beautiful, soulful, rich, and relevant portrait of what people are looking for when they reject science, of what people can do to themselves, just to stay together, to be part of a herd, a group, a 'we.'" -Jury, Libris Literature Prize
"This novel has a good chance of becoming the most remarkable and formally innovative debut novel of the spring. It's a remarkable novel, and, despite its oppressive subject, a true pleasure to read." -Der Standard

"Convincingly, Gerda Blees finds her meticulously narrated way through the mine field of fashionable trends." -Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung

"A penetrating psychological text that plumbs the depths of human deception of ourselves and others." -Die Presse

"An excellent novel. The stunning final chapter will leave readers gasping for air." -VPRO Gids

"The changing perspective allows Blees to zoom in, zoom out, conceal, and reveal. It's a game loaded with unexpected tension. You're taken by surprise time and again." -NRC Handelsblad

"It's nice when a writer has the guts to do something different, but it's priceless when this unconventionality has added value and leads to a unique novel." -De Volkskrant

"It's brilliant how Blees manages to turn the 'we are ...' every chapter starts with into the book's main theme. You feel that you're holding something remarkable in your hands." -Trouw

"She sets the tone with ever-changing perspectives, sometimes drily comical, often also touching and very human; she colors the story of the people who want to live on light and air in an entirely novel way." -Het Parool

"Blees masters the art of taking the reader by the hand and leading them past successive stages of concern, outrage, and resignation. She subtly calls into question the judgments we pass on idealistic people such as the novel's protagonists, and she allows us to empathize with people we initially thought we'd never be able to relate to." -Tzum

"The stream of consciousness that runs through Elisabeth's demented mother's head is brilliant." -Knack

"It sounds crazy but the talented Blees pulls it off: her story alternates between the perspectives of, for instance, a slow juicer, a cello, a demented mother, or the crime scene. An unconventional reading experience." -De Morgen

"A dramatic but humorous story about how people can lose themselves in an ideal." -HP/De Tijd

"A pageturner that isn't just suspenseful, but also very relevant and exquisitely narrated." -FM4 (Austria)

"Original and astonishing!" -MDR Kultur

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