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My Work (Mit Arbejde)

Translated into English by Sophia Hersi Smith and Jennifer Russell

From the acclaimed author of The Employees, a radical, funny, and mercilessly honest novel about motherhood.

After giving birth, Anna is utterly lost. She and her family move to the unfamiliar, snowy city of Stockholm. Anxiety threatens to completely engulf the new mother, who obsessively devours online news and compulsively buys clothes she can’t afford. To avoid sinking deeper into her depression, Anna forces herself to read and write.

My Work is a novel about the unique and fundamental experience of giving birth, mixing different literary forms – fiction, essay, poetry, memoir, and letters – to explore the relationship between motherhood, work, individuality, and literature.


Praise for My Work

‘At once irrepressibly lively and painfully elusive. The strength of this book is the way it dramatizes a gap between explanation and lived experience Our culture, Jacqueline Rose has written, ‘tears mothers to pieces’. In response, MY WORK tears the novel to pieces’

The Guardian


‘This novel is an incisive acknowledgement of our inability to escape our contradictory selves’.

The Irish Times


‘My Work is ferocious, horrific, elegant, insightful, irreverent, and funny. Can a woman still be a person after motherhood? Of course not, Ravn argues, or rather, admits. And in prose, poems, and journal entries, she documents all the absurdity and repulsiveness of growing a creature in your body and then raising it. It is a magnificent and satisfying meditation. One of the most honest and revelatory works of fiction about motherhood I have ever read. Ravn’s writing is ecstatic, philosophical, and addictive.’

Heather O’Neill


‘This novel from Olga Ravn, this new golden notebook, needs to be read by absolutely anyone who has known the quiet madness and claustrophobic happiness of the interior, especially mothers who also long for a life of literature. But this novel absolutely needs to be read by everyone else as well. Oh Olga Ravn, always inventing new forms, you are a genius. How do you do it?'

Kate Zambreno


‘Explores childbirth and motherhood by mixing different literary forms—fiction, essay, poetry, memoir, letters—with [Ravn’s] signature experimental flair.'

— Sophia Stewart, The Millions


‘Ravn has created a truly unique project which is not so much a story as it is an accumulation. It is all the selves, shed and grown, that mothers and birthing people encounter in the slippery aftermath of childbirth; it is the documentation of the mother/art monster problem, a problem that in Ravn’s telling, is as much about addition as it is subtraction’

The Brooklyn Rail


‘This brilliant and unflinching work deserves to be a classic’

Publisher's Weekly


'An unflinchingly honest reflection of a woman’s experience of her own body as it becomes a body that belongs also to the child. This experience includes beauty and pain, rage and tenderness, fear, suspicion, doubt…A stunning book that speaks aloud thoughts the reader believed had been theirs alone in long nursery hours of the night.'

— Kirkus Reviews


'Through [the novel's] singular collage of prose, poetry, diary, script and even newspaper scrapbook, Ravn traverses a large swath of textual terrain to explore the surface challenges and deeper significance of her work as both writer and mother.'

— Nick Hilden, The Washington Post


'Olga Ravn writes dazzlingly about the work of motherhood and the work of writing. Reading Ravn’s book, you run through the whole gamut of human emotion, as though you too were a new mother: tears, laughter, anger, fear, pain, frustration. This is powerful writing that’s hard to put down.'

— Politiken


'Olga Ravn has written a thorny yet tremendously readable book about becoming a mother and experiencing post-natal depression. […] With My Work, Olga Ravn has not merely added a highly personal and literary page-turner to her body of work: she has made a brave, important contribution to literary history and the social debate’ 


‘Olga Ravn’s new book is sure to leave its mark on the next decade of Danish literature… Luminous.’



Author: Olga Ravn
Publisher: Gyldendal
Territories: Canada: Book*Hug; Finland: Kosmos; Germany: Maerz; Norway: Samlaget; Spain: Anagrama; Sweden: Ellerstroms; USA: New Directions; UK: Lolli Editions
Other Olga Ravn Titles