Remember how divisive reality television was, before it became just television? In Norway, an intense debate is taking place about virkelighetslitteratur, or “reality literature,” a putatively fictional strain of writing that draws on identifiable characters and events. Critics of reality television complained that it was overproduced; the argument against reality literature is that it is insufficiently artificial, exposing and misrepresenting people who never consented to be a part of it. The country’s most flagrant transgressor of the code of plausible disclaimability is Vigdis Hjorth, whose prickly, persuasive novel “Will and Testament” came out in Norway in 2016, and has just been published in English, by Verso. Earlier this month, the translation, by Charlotte Barslund, was long-listed for the National Book Award for Translated Literature.
Lauren Collins — The New Yorker