Her Lying Face



Published in Norway by Cappelen Damm, 2016 (304 pp.)



In Kristiania in April 1897, the newspapers Morgenbladet and Verdens Gang announced that Knut Hamsun had reported Mrs. Anna Munch to the police and asked that her mental state be investigated.
That spring, several anonymous letters slandering Hamsun had appeared in Kristiania.
Hamsun was convinced that the letters had been written by the authoress Anna Munch, who was married to Edvard Munch’s cousin, Peter Anker Ragnvald Munch. Anna Munch and Knut Hamsun first met during his lecture tour in 1891, when he went on the offensive against Ibsen and others. To put it mildly, she was entranced. She began to follow him, even to Paris, and on several occasions she booked in to the same lodgings as he had. She constantly sent him letters, to which she eventually received no replies. In other words, she was a good old-fashioned ‘stalker.’ The police were not sure that Anna Munch had written the letters. For a while they even wondered whether Hamsun had written them himself.
This epistolary mystery is the starting point for Selma Lønning Aarø’s artistic novel, which brings a forgotten author to life and, not least, says something about the major struggle female authors had to be seen and heard.
The author has made some amazing biographical discoveries which help to cast light on the most highly debated author in Norwegian history, Knut Hamsun.

“Selma Lønning Aarø’s latest novel has the potential to reach a vast audience and it will leave them shaken, moved and enligthened.”

“Here Anna Munch emerges from oblivion in a manner that can only be described as spellbinding. Beautifully written and skilfully composed.”

“Hennes løgnaktige ytre is a historical novel worth reading, about attraction, the life of an artist, madness and family.”