Shortlisted for the Guardian’s Not the Booker Prize
“It dares you be nosy, to eavesdrop and listen in to a stoic young woman whom no one noticed until she began to disappear – a burning triumph.”
– Paul Beatty, Man Booker Prize 2016
“Karen Havelin writes with astounding sensitivity and grace of the vulnerability of the body, that abject and essential container within which we live our entire lives. Havelin’s debut is a revelation.”
– Alexandra Kleeman, You Too Can Have a Body Like Mine
“Karen Havelin’s first novel is a powerful report on the body in crisis, on a life removed from comfort and community. It is beautifully done. Havelin’s writing stresses tactility and sensuality, physical touch and sensation and isolation, making illness an occasion for empathy, trust, and connection between writer and reader.”
– Donald Antrim, the Hundred Brothers
Karen Havelin’s Please Read This Leaflet Carefully is a life told in reverse and a subversion of what we expect from stories of illness. Having been diagnosed with endometriosis in her twenties, we follow Laura Fjellstad in her struggle to live a normal life across New York, Paris and Oslo, fueled by her belief that to survive her chronic illness she must be completely self-reliant.
Flowing backwards from 2016 to 1995, we meet Laura’s younger selves: her healthier selves. Laura as a daughter, a figure skater, a lover, and a mother—finally leading a life her own teenage self would be in awe of.
To be devoured intensely in one sitting, Please Read This Leaflet Carefully is a remarkable debut novel with bracing emotional insights and piercing descriptions of pain that linger in one’s mind long after the last page. It is also a beguiling meditation on relationships, motherhood, sexuality, pain and the limitations of our own bodies.