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Publisher's Summary

Shortlisted for the Man Booker International Prize 2017.

'Nobody can leave an island. An island is a cosmos in a nutshell, where the stars slumber in the grass beneath the snow. But occasionally someone tries....

Ingrid Barrøy is born on an island that bears her name - a holdfast for a single family, their livestock, their crops, their hopes and dreams.

Her father dreams of building a quay that will connect them to the mainland, but closer ties to the wider world come at a price. Her mother has her own dreams - more children, a smaller island, a different life - and there is one question Ingrid must never ask her.

Island life is hard, a living scratched from the dirt or trawled from the sea, so when Ingrid comes of age, she is sent to the mainland to work for one of the wealthy families on the coast.

But Norway too is waking up to a wider world, a modern world that is capricious and can be cruel. Tragedy strikes, and Ingrid must fight to protect the home she thought she had left behind.

Translated from the Norwegian by Don Bartlett and Don Shaw.

©2013 Cappelen Damm AS (P)2016 W F Howes Ltd

What listeners say about The Unseen

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Profile Image for J. R. Marriott
  • J. R. Marriott
  • 06-24-18

The worst narration I have ever heard

The narration on this is so bad I almost stopped immediately. It sounds like one of those amateur audiobook recordings. Really peculiar and jarring narration.

This narrator has terrible pacing, and often doesn't seem to understand the words she is reading. Its almost as if she doesn't realise that you need to read ahead of the words you are speaking so you'll use the correct intonation.

She has this weird cloying lilt to her voice, using these rolled 'r's (the way she said 'Maria' is really grating). She also puts her own odd emphasis on words that don't require them.

She mispronounces all the Norwegian names and for some bizarre reason has decided that Norwegians sounds like Yorkshire from that Monty Python sketch. One character has a mysterious Spanish accent. If you can't do accents, don't do accents.

Why could they not have found a Norwegian speaker to read this? Or an actor. Or just almost any other person with a mouth.

5 people found this helpful

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  • Kremer
  • 01-16-18

Wonderful book, dreadful rendition

I found this account of a family living on a rock in the Norwegian Sea about a century ago utterly captivating. The prose style is economical but allows itself moments of sublime beauty. By the end you care deeply about this set of survivors leading their humdrum lives, which skirt so close to madness and death.

The reading is genuinely awful. Not only is the sing-song delivery grating, it is often just plain wrong - like when a train conductor makes an announcement which is unintelligible because the words have lost their meaning through repetition. It is amazing that the many, many mistakes of emphasis weren’t corrected by the producers. Nevertheless, this short book is worth your time.

4 people found this helpful

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  • Nien
  • 09-05-21

Stunningly awful narration

I think this is the worst narration of all the audible performances I've ever heard. I went out and bought the book so that I could finish it without more listening and I'd advise anyone interested to go direct to the book . I found it impossible to listen to the recording without pausing it and re-phrasing in intelligible English.

There are two problems:

1. It is read as if the audience is at primary school listening to "Storytime" with a particularly patronising trainee teacher

2. The narrator randomly stresses words in the sentence - particularly conjunctions - and in the process completely obscures or distorts the underlying meaning.

It is a great shame because the novel is unusual, moving, and deserves better.

1 person found this helpful

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  • T Dewey
  • 02-24-19

I'd give it less if I could.

Dull story weird writing and really odd narration. Honestly hated it. But maybe I missed the point. But a one thing else.... Anything..... At all

1 person found this helpful

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  • Elena Baldi
  • 04-27-22

Disappointed

I found the reader really boring (sorry) abs the story was dragging too often. I might have to read it, rather than listening to it

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  • Melissa Speed
  • 02-19-22

A dreary story

This is a dreary story with little to grip the reader/listener or maintain their interest. It is well written in a style typical of contemporary literary fiction, focusing on detailed descriptions of the settings, but the characters aren’t particularly engaging and I gave up on this after two thirds of the book as I was so bored.

Others love it, so give it a try if you like contemporary literary fiction and don’t mind slow-paced, bleak stories.

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  • Linda Cannon
  • 12-17-18

The circular turgidity of cold island life.

Having lived on various small islands off the North Sea, I can relate only too well to the story. Slow, endless, small, enduring, harsh, and driven, at all times, by the weather. Weather-dependent life, and death, and life, are beautifully described. Everything goes on and on and seasons pass and nothing changes, yet everything slowly moves on. The story is well read, but the narrator's tone just emphasises the monotony of their existence.

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  • Rubiagalega
  • 01-19-18

Brings a sense of melancholy about tradition

The narrator's tone helped the sense of slow pace, reflection about each moment. The story is rich in detail, attending to the daily lives of the islanders and their life's views. Focus on bare necessities, tools, weather, money, self sufficiency. Emotionally it sustains a tone of control, sadness, not much joy, but humbleness dealing with life as it comes. Some examples of family coming together in times of loss, blood connections, wealth passed through generatiins. It is possible to notice gender inequalities and women struggle for equality in relation to gender, age hierarchy in the family. It can help empathise with the life style of isolation and endurance. Hope, frustration. Love, hate. Dream, shattered dreams. Many contradictions and overall acceptance of what live brings.

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