Xiania is a burlesque, snappy and vivid feminist novel set in Oslo (then Christiania), 1922. Klara is 19, a housemaid, and pregnant after a very forgettable evening in a woodshed. After a nearly fatal attempt at self-induced abortion, Klara goes to a doctor who hands her a note with an address in the capital, Christiania (Xiania), and the password SOMETHING ELSE. Klara arrives to find a hat shop, believed to be a brothel, which in reality is an undercover cellar abortion clinic run by the mysterious Madame Zavarella. Klara gets the abortion and falls into a six-week-long half-coma, after almost dying from blood poisoning. When Klara is back on her feet, Madam Zavarella suggests that Klara stays. Klara, feeling she owes Madam Zavarella her life, accepts.
This marks the beginning of a whirlwind of events and characters. The rent Klara pays at Madame Zavarella is shockingly high, but is more than covered by the salary from the job she helps Klara get: A housing post with the bohemian and well-off Freddie. Klara enters the strange and fascinating milieus of 1920’s Xiania: Revolutionary communists, the bourgeouise and booze smugglers, from late-night dancing in the marble halls of Hotel Bristol, to the stinking sewage worker strikes in the burrough of Vaterland. And before she knows it, Klara finds herself entangled in affairs she never could have foreseen.
Xiania 1: Klara is the first book in this forthcoming trilogy, written in a fresh, snarky and contemporary tone.
My part in the story starts like most stories do: with a thrust and a premature ejaculation.
It was a November’s evening in 1921, and for two romantic minutes, inside a freezing cold woodshed near Field Farm, Abraham Pihl’s grave and the studio of the local madwoman, we were husband and wife. Me in my inherited wool bloomers. Him in a silly trapper hat. I don’t recall his name.
«... so vivid, so fundamentally exciting. Rarely read anything like it. Historical and modern and personal and entertaining and smart and beautiful and well-written all at once.»
Thomas Korsgaard, author of Hvis der skulle komme et menneske forbi (Were someone to drop by)
«Lotta Elstad’s richly-colored story from 1920’s Oslo is a slow-burning bildungsroman that screams to be adapted for film.»
«Not only does the author have a keen eye and a sensitive nose for the less appealing sides the urban life, she also has a downright poetic approach to the hedonism and zest that is often associated with the roaring 20s …»
Cheeky and fresh!
«Elstad folds out a canvas that is wide, vivid and colorful.»
«… Elstad writes with a crunch so satisfying that one will sometimes re-read whole paragraphs to fully take in the cheeky style.»
VG, 5/6 stars
«Xiania 1 is an unusually charming novel ... more than anything it’s a story with great drive, told with bounce in its language.»
Clever and wild noir from the east side
«Xiania definitely created expectations to the continuation, more than anything because the author is so inspired and inventive.»
«Elstad's writing is raw and wonderful.»
STAVANGER AFTENBLAD, five/six stars
«It will take a lot for a Norwegian book to have a stronger opening this year ... The opening line [...] has already become iconic, and Xiania keeps the linguistic pace throughout the book.»
NATT & DAG