Skip to the content

Rock, Paper, Scissors

Translated into English by K. E. Semmel

Naja Marie Aidt’s long-awaited first novel is a breathtaking page-turner and complex portrait of a man whose life slowly devolves into one of violence and jealousy.

Rock, Paper, Scissors opens shortly after the death of Thomas and Jenny’s criminal father. While trying to fix a toaster that he left behind, Thomas discovers a secret, setting into motion a series of events leading to the dissolution of his life, and plunging him into a dark, shadowy underworld of violence and betrayal.


“The emotions unleashed in this tale . . . are painfully universal. Yet you know exactly where in the universe you are. This is the hallmark of great short stories, from Chekhov’s portraits of discontented Russians to Joyce’s struggling Dubliners.”   —Time


"Laced with sex, marital problems, family drama, and money woes, Aidt's supremely cultivated novel is concerned with the struggle to connect with those we truly love and the consequences of remaining distant. Aidt writes with verve, passion, and a sharp edge, animating a smart set of characters who must fight for truth and happiness."—Publishers Weekly

"Rock, Paper, Scissors is a story you'll want to keep reading until the bitter (very bitter) end."—Words Without Borders

"A domestic drama that merges the mundane and the grotesque."—Kirkus Reviews

"With Rock, Paper, Scissors, Aidt documents the destructiveness and vitality, but also the vulnerability, of human existence. K.E. Semmel's translation is exact, capturing the poetry and precision of Aidt's sentences. This novel should do much to push Aidt further into the English-language literary scene."—The Quarterly Conversation

"I highly recommend Rock, Paper, Scissors—it is one of the best novels I have read in a long time. Aidt's writing is free of superlatives and affectations; yet it is so vivid that I could picture every scene."—Asymptote


"The dynamics Aidt reveals to us, and which drives her linguistic expression (abrupt, breathless sentences mirroring rather than penetrating the consciousness of her characters) consists on the one hand in the sheer manic nature of late-modern existence (surface haste, stressful energy, frenzied consumption), and on the other in an—if I may be so bold—authentic sexual energy full of release potential."—Lilian Munk Rösing, speech in honor of Naja Marie Aidt receiving the Danish Critics' Prize

Publisher: Gyldendal
Territories: Germany: Luchterhand; Iceland: Bjartur; Norway: Gyldendal; US: Open Letter Books
Other Naja Marie Aidt Titles