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Girls Against God Reviews

Girls Against God by Jenny Hval

Girls Against God

Jenny Hval

3.67 out of 5

3 reviews

Imprint: Verso Books
Publisher: Verso Books
Publication date: 25 Sep 2020
ISBN: 9781788738958

A genre-warping, time-travelling horror novel-slash-feminist manifesto from the author of the acclaimed Paradise Rot

4 stars out of 5
Sukhdev Sandhu
19 Nov 2020

"Plot and chronology are less important than the mini-manifestos and rousing riffs"

Darting between rapidly escalating psychodrama and cultural critique, addressing the reader directly, presenting some passages in the form of visual diagrams: Hval knows that she risks incomprehensibility. That’s precisely her book’s gambit – and its fearless credo. At one point the narrator recalls her writing professor in the US objecting that the short story she’s submitted is too “angry and messy, incoherent”. She was left feeling tethered and tamed. What she wants, she says later, is an “escape route from structure and rhetoric”. “I don’t just write to analyse,” she declares, “Analysis can so easily become judgmental, categorical and clean-cut.”

Reviews

4 stars out of 5
Cal Revely-Calder
17 Oct 2020

"The musician and writer’s second novel is the self-mocking tale of how a girl like her escaped from Norway’s Bible Belt"

But a novel like this, like another mind, can be read at multiple depths. It helps to recognise, in one terse “episode” about a group suicide, that the narrator is describing a scene from the 2001 film Suicide Club. Since the latter is a cult satire on Japanese pop-cultural fads, the episode acts like a playful question: “Is making erudite references merely a way of seeming deep?” Hval’s novel is prepared to mock itself – well, why not?

On the other hand, you might just read the heartfelt story of how a girl came to think, and make art, for herself. This girl, in the end, is Jenny Hval – but of course she’s someone else.

3 stars out of 5
15 Oct 2020

"Hval is best in her moments of dark humour and in her writing on femininity"

Through a non-linear, diaristic stream of consciousness, intermingled with long essays, poetic fragments and scenes from the film, Hval explores the philosophy behind witchcraft as a form of feminism. At the book’s centre is an obsession with hatred and its radical, untapped potential: “I remember how much hope there is in hatred.” Chapters of polemical prose, all in an impressive translation by Marjam Idriss, discuss questions such as “Could we turn back time and blast fictional Japanese cities instead of real ones?”