In Forbryter og straff (“Crime and punishment”, not published in English), the fourth novel by Kathrine Nedrejord, she begins with a direct allusion in the title of Dostoevsky’s anguished masterpiece and builds a work about the aftermath of violence that is comprehensive, monologic and uncompromising. There is no doubt who the narrator is – we’re witnessing the unadorned, resentful speech of the victim – but Forbryter og straff boldly mixes polemic and despair for a paradoxical, painful duality.
You don’t often come across literature with such a harsh, undisguised rejection of forgiveness and pardon as matters of ethics and law. Forbryter og straff is a novel about damages – perhaps even revenge and damages. The drive and philosophy of this lingering yet dynamic work give rise to a desperate, undisguised demand to be heard – without diversion, without forced concession or compromise.
Wielding impressive literary control and perspicacity rather than gentleness, anger rather than introspective reserve, Nedrejord writes out her indictment, its sparing, precarious, almost staccato utterances alternating effectively with longer, well-formulated reflections. Forbryter og straff is a rich work which succeeds in being contemporary and current while bringing to life a connection with the past – such as Nathaniel Hawthorne’s heartbreaking The Scarlet Letter.