‘Rock, Paper, Scissors’ by Naja Marie Aidt

at The Quarterly Review:

Although Naja Marie Aidt made her English-language debut just last year with a short story collection entitled Baboon (Two Lines Press), in Denmark she has been required reading in most middle school and high school classes since the 1990s. A poet and author with nearly 20 works in various genres, Aidt has received numerous honors, including the Nordic Council’s Literature Prize for Baboon in 2008.

Aidt debuted in Denmark in 1991 with the poetry collection Så længe jeg er ung, and since then she has mainly been known for her poems and short stories. Her first novel, Sten, saks, papir, came out in Denmark in 2012, some 21 years after her first poetry collection. Now that novel has been published by Open Letter Books as Rock, Paper, Scissors, in K.E. Semmel’s translation.

In Rock, Paper, Scissors, we follow Thomas O’Mally Lindström—the owner of a small, successful stationery business—whose abusive and criminal father, Jacques, just passed away in prison. Along with his neurotic and temperamental sister, Jenny, Thomas reluctantly goes through their father’s old apartment, where he finds a broken toaster containing a large sum of money. Thomas decides to keep the money in his basement, even though he knows Jacques probably acquired it illegally. From this point, a thriller-like plot begins to unfold. Thomas becomes increasingly anxious, especially when a charming man by the name of Luke shows up at his father’s funeral. Luke—a nephew of one of Jacques’s old associates—seemingly had a close relationship with Thomas’s father.

more here.