Ghosts of Places, Ghosts in Places: A Review of Jenny Hval’s “Paradise Rot”

Some novels have a sense of place. Jenny Hval’s Paradise Rot drips with it. This is the story of a young woman named Jo, who’s come to study in a country other than her own. Where she’s from and where she is are never crucial to the plot — there’s a brief mention of Jo as Norwegian, and of certain locations in the south of England, but specifics, at least these specifics, aren’t the point here. Our protagonist is far from home, speaking a language that isn’t her first, and living among people with whom she’s out of sync. This is a novel about dislocation, about being out of step with a place. It’s also a ghost story — perhaps several varieties of ghost story.

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