Johan has bargained with Death for years: when he was a boy, he prayed that Death take his father, not his mother; when he was a man, Death kindly removed his wife, Alice, allowing him to marry Mai, the love of his life. Now, Death has come for him, and Johan needs to strike one last bargain: when the moment arrives, he wants Mai to promise that she will help him on his way out of the world.
A delicate, haunting portrait of a fainthearted man trying his best to meet the end of life—and love—with a modicum of dignity and, yes, grace
— Bruce Bawer, The New York Times Book Review
Johan has been mainly a paragon of mediocrity; it is only through his love for Mai that he has seen the greater possibilities that life can sometimes offer. He is determined that his passing will be dignified, controlled - perhaps even comforting. But when the time comes, and Mai has finally agreed to help him, he is no longer sure even that he has asked the right question. His deathbed is not as he imagined. His life - as a husband, lover and father - was never what it could have been. And, why is it exactly, he wonders, that his one true love has agreed to be his angel of death?
Linn Ullmann's haunting novel portrays a passionate love affair, and asks difficult questions about life, love, and death. Finally, in prose of cool precision, deep insight and dark wit, it illustrates how the most ordinary of lives can, in the end, be unexpectedly touched by grace.
For Grace Linn Ullmann received the literary award The Reader’s Prize in Norway and Grace was named one of the top ten novels that year by the prestigious newspaper Weekendavisen in Denmark. In 2007, Grace was longlisted for the Independent Foreign Fiction Prize in the UK, and in March the same year, the Norwegian theater Riksteatret played a successful run of the theatrical play Grace, based on the novel.
Named one of the 100 notable books of 2014 by The New York Times. Also named an “Editor’s Choice” by the same newspaper.
One of the favorite books of 2014 according to James Wood of The New Yorker.
One of the 50 best independent fiction and poetry books of 2014, according to Flavorwire.
Interview on The Diane Rehm show: A conversation with author Linn Ullmann about her latest novel, her writing career and how her parents’ work influenced her own creative identity
Interviewed in The Atlantic: “Before You Can Write a Good Plot, You Need to Write a Good Place”
Interview in Vogue (US): Linn Ullmann Discusses Her New Novel The Cold Song