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Island , by Siri Ranva Hjelm Jacobsen. 

June 24, 2020

IslandIsland , by Siri Ranva Hjelm Jacobsen.    Pushkin Press, 2020.    Translator from Danish, Caroline Waight.

4 stars

A gentle book by a Danish writer about her grandmother who migrated to Denmark from the Faroe Islands in the North Atlantic and about her own links to the islands .

Siri Ranva Hjelm Jacobsen is a 40-year-old Danish writer with family roots on the Faroe Islands.  She lives in Copenhagen and writes in Danish.  She also writes for Danish literary publications.  Little biographical information was available about her.

Like the author, the narrator of Island is a descendant of grandparents who moved to Denmark from  the Faroe Islands, a group of small islands between Scotland and Iceland.  Their life stories alternate with the author’s response to her own identity as their granddaughter.   The author returns to the islands in reality and in her narrative, exploring her grandmother’s story and her own feelings about her heritage and her visits there as a child.  Although the narratives are not explicitly autobiographical, they seem to reflect her own experiences.

Moving descriptions of the islands in their varied moods make the book an enjoyable read, despite the fact that there is little real plot.  The author’s reflections on what it means to her to be the “third generation” to have migrated are particularly moving.  She recognizes her own diminished commitment to the past and to the goals of those who went before her.

This is a pleasant book, if not a major one.

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