Original title: Ystäväni Natalia
Author: Laura Lindstedt
Genre: Literary Fiction
A bold and brave novel about a young woman’s sexuality, the power of narration, and identity.
Natalia starts to see a therapist to help solve the problems in her sex life. It is clear from the beginning that she is not going to play by the rules of the therapy. The weekly sessions combine art, philosophy, literature, childhood memories, and erotic experiences as a method of treatment, and slowly they make Natalia lose all her inhibitions. She starts to enjoy the therapy – maybe too much?
The novel takes a deconstructive approach to the self-help narratives of our time and drives the tools of autofiction into a dead end, asking what is concealed, when everything is revealed.
“--- This is the book’s tease, that Natalia — eccentric, unruly, compelling — will be definitively “solved.” But she’s not a dramatic principal, not a thing able to fire real bullets. This was her psychologist’s figure of speech and as such probably tells us more about the psychologist than the patient. The deeper, indeed more layered, mystery is, it emerges, the novel’s chimerical narrator. --- Laura Lindstedt’s sly, intriguing novel.” -Hermione Hoby, New York Times
"The 10 Best New Books to Read in March. --- In this import from celebrated Finnish writer Laura Lindstedt, we enter the mind of a therapist, name and gender unknown, who is treating Natalia, a woman with a sex addiction. It’s a thrilling psycho-sexual adventure—the therapist quickly loses control and takes the reader on a wild ride through a deeply unprofessional, fascinating story about female desire and power."— Jenny Singer, Glamour Magazine
“Throughout the novel, Natalia riffs on Sartre, Beauvoir, and others, baiting the psychologist with sexually charged critiques of patriarchal philosophy.” – Publishers Weekly
"Little by little this strange psychotherapy is bearing its fruit. Natalia liberates herself. Perhaps too much. Through it, the author analyzes with impertinence and subtlety the stereotypes of the caregiver and the patient, the balance of power and those of gender and identity. And where the heroine writes her own autofiction, Laura Lindstedt pushes to wonder about everything that is hidden whilst everything is shown and everything that is not said when someone (a woman in this case) is described." - Jean-Paul Gavard-Perret, Pages des Libraires
"A clever novel about power, sex, art and langauge." - De Volkskrant, Netherlansds
“Ostensibly recounted with nothing but clinical curiosity, the transgressive patient’s evasions, provocations, and sleights of hand are in this way craftily enacted by the novel itself.” -The New York Times
“This novel is about the subtle division of power. The one who has the words has the power. And the great storyteller in this setting is Natalia. The therapy sessions are a celebration of literature and art (think Niki de Saint Phalle, Georgia O'Keeffe, but also the tragedies of Greek mythology). Natalia plays an intellectual game about the appropriation of stories.” - Het Parool, Netherlands
"When Natalia writes her experiences down at the end of the therapy, she shakes off the role of the patient or object of study permanently. She is now the writer of her own story, and what follows is a philosophical and feminist whirlwind, in which all kinds of stereotypes are shaken up for good." - De Standaard, Belgium
“I was tremendously impressed by My Friend Natalia. If the novel had a palette, it would be the grammatically-well-formed-and-yet-wtf selections of a robot with no sense of style (aka @colorschemez): rash celadon, interpolated blue grey, indentured very light purple, pecuniary cobalt blue, uppity brownish purple, autocratic faded red, unadmiring muddy green. This is recommendation by misdirection, because NO SPOILERS is the mantra. Lindstedt has a very Finnish take on sophistication (downbeat, deadpan), is disconcerting, dissonant, peerless in deferred resolution, a blithe dissolver of the regular association of ideas. Why did I not use lockdown to learn Finnish? Why?” — Helen DeWitt, Author
“I read a galley of Laura Lindstedt's "My Friend Natalia" (the translation, obviously) yesterday and I cannot stop thinking about how masterful the craft is,” writes Marissa Higgins in her review of Finnish author Laura Lindstedt’s novel “My Friend Natalia.” “Totally original, enthralling. Totally weird. 10/10, do recommend.” - Marissa Higgins
“One of the most dynamic voices I’ve read in a long time; and I was blown away by the novel’s sly examination of power and sexuality. Laura Lindstedt is a true literary talent, and we’re honored to have her join our list! – Gina Laquinta, Associate Editor, Liveright Publishing, W.W. Norton, USA
“Finnish writer Laura Lindstedt’s American debut is a hypnotic, disorienting, often paranoid story about the precarious balance of power between an unnamed, non gendered therapist and their bewitching new patient, Natalia. She shows up at the therapist’s office like a whirlwind, requesting help for her dysfunctional sex life, but from the very first appointment — in which Natalia lies on the couch with an alarm clock on her stomach — she consistently dominates the sessions with monologues about formative erotic moments in her life, rarely letting the therapist interrupt. And as her story unfolds — introducing a connection between Natalia’s family and the therapist that’s too unlikely to be a coincidence — the therapist loses control of the experimental methods they’re supposed to be directing. It’s a surprisingly suspenseful story touching on psychology, philosophy, and sex.” - Arianna Rebolini, BuzzFeed News
One of the most dynamic voices I’ve read in a long time; and I was blown away by the novel’s sly examination of power and sexuality. Laura Lindstedt is a true literary talent, and we’re honored to have her join our list!
– Gina Iaquinta, Associate Editor, Liveright Publishing Corporation, W. W. Norton & Company, US
FINLAND: Teos (orig.)
ESTONIA: Rahva Raamat AS
HUNGARY: Scolar Kiado
ITALY: Elliot Edizioni
NETHERLANDS & BELGIUM: De Bezige Bij
ROMANIA: Humanitas Fiction
USA: W.W. Norton / Liveright