Cover Image: Clearing Out

Clearing Out

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Member Reviews

This was a unique novel, a mix of fiction and autobiography, about families and their stories. The author discovers her grandfather was a Sámi fisherman (indigenous people in the north of Norway, Sweden, Finland and Russia) and intertwines that experience with a fictional story of a character who goes to northern Norway to study Sámi language extinction. There are many parallels between the author and the fictional character. Not only are they both linguists, but they both also experience the loss of an older parent, and this overlap adds an interesting layer to the novel. At first it was a little difficult to distinguish between the author’s story and the character’s story, but soon the transitions became seamless and I considered it a clever technique. I was intrigued by the reflections on Sámi identities and their history in Norway. It’s not something I’ve come across often in Norwegian literature. I enjoyed the book!
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This book did not really work for me which means I found it unreadable. When books translated to English, and they are poorly written I tend to blame the translator more than the author.
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Helene is a linguist and novelist writing about a linguist, Ellinor, who gets a research post to explore the Sami language in the north of Norway, whilst Helen herself travels north to explore her own Sami heritage. Blurring the lines between autobiography and fiction, and sounding perhaps a bit too post-modern and self-referential, this is in fact a really enjoyable exploration of family, identity, the Sami and Norway’s troubled history during WWII. It’s a book rich in themes and ideas and works on many levels. The two threads are expertly woven together – most of the time, anyway. On occasion I had to stop and re-read a few lines to discover whether I was reading about Helene or Ellinor, but overall the conceit worked and the two narratives merge into a satisfying whole. I particularly enjoyed learning more about Sami culture and language, as well as relating to the personal stories of these two women.
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A unique read a story within a story.So well written the author writes about herself and a character based on her life.A very involving read highly recommend. #netgalley #uofminn.press
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Great read. The author wrote a story that was interesting and moved at a pace that kept me engaged. The characters were easy to invest in.
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Clearing Out by author Helene Uri .
Thank you NetGalley for the opportunity to read the e- book .
This ebook is of two stories which are cleverly interwoven , one is fact about the author's journey into her family ancestry , the other is fiction .
The author discovers her grandfather was the son of a Sami fisherman . She decides to send her character Ellinor to Finnmark in the far north  of Norway to study the languages of the Sami famiies . 
What Ellinor discovered there and of the people she met I found very interesting .
At the beginning it took me sometime to get into  and to start understanding what was happening .
Recommend and give four stars .
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“Clearing Out” is a book within a book. It combines episodes from the author’s life with the story of Ellinor, a character she created.

The thing I liked most about this book was how it broke down the writing process. It was a look behind the curtain at how stories are created and plots are developed. 

I also enjoyed the family relationships that are presented, both real and fictional. This was an enjoyable book.

Thanks to NetGalley and University of Minnesota Press for the ARC.
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I generally like structures, like clear timelines, in books. This one doesn't even have clear characters, and to me it's mostly a mess of everything. The points about dying languages drown in this mess. Identities and families also follow timelines, and making jumbles doesn't make things more interesting to me.
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DNFed. It was mostly okay at first until I realized that I really couldn't get into it. I realiźe this is supposed to be a blend of fiction and autobiography, but it didn't work for me. I did like the descriptions of Norwegian culture though, but I just can't get into how the book was structured.
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Linguicide is language extinction. "...smaller languages get crowded out by larger ones... the majority language gives more power and prestige..." "The most usual progression is that the language speakers become bilingual in one generation...the next generations gradually become worse speakers; the language is downgraded 'to the domain of traditional use, such as in poetry and song'...Finally, everyone is monolingual in the new language...in the space of only a couple of generations."

Helene, a linguist and novelist, lives in Oslo, Norway with her husband and children. She is in the development stage of fleshing out the main character for a new novel. Her protagonist, Ellinor Smidt, will have a doctorate in linguistics. Newly separated from husband Tom, Ellinor has no confidence in her abilities. However, she applies and is chosen to be a research assistant on the SAMmin Project, a project documenting people living in Finnmark who identify as conversing in Sami, an endangered language. Off to Northern Norway goes Ellinor Smidt!

Coincidentally, Helene is amazed to receive a phone call from a relative in Hammerfest who is conducting genealogical research. Helene requests to see a copy of her paternal family tree once completed. Knowing that her father's family history is incomplete, Helene embarks upon a quest to trace the Nilsen family's roots. She discovers that her great-grandfather, Ole Nilssen was Sami. Helene had planned a trip to attend Finnmark's International Literature festival. She will use her observations and experiences to help shape her novel about Ellinor's experiences in Finnmark.

Helene's search for her roots will parallel and be intertwined with Ellinor's search for data. "What was it like to be a Sami child in this district during the most intense Norwegianization period...to be prevented from speaking your own language?' "You keep that background hidden. It was nothing you acknowledged." "It was as if the tie to the ancestors was cut."

"Clearing Out" by Helene Uri weaves the autobiographical with the fictitious to create a conversation about identity, tradition, and the endangered status of the Sami language. I highly recommend this tome.

Thank you University of Minnesota Press and Net Galley for the opportunity to read and review "Clearing Out".
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2 stars

I was so confused by this book that I didn't know if I was coming or going. I understand the premise of the novel, but the transitions from reality to the character in the “author's” novel were so disjointed and confusing that I just had to give up on it. I don't know if it was a factor of translation, or the author's intent. 

There are just too many other books out there to be read.

I want to thank NetGalley and the U of Minnesota Press for forwarding to me a copy of this book to read and review.
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