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The Last Days of My Mother

The Last Days of My Mother
Sölvi Björn Sigurðsson
Open Letter
New York
English translations
Review Author
Björn Halldórsson

(Síðustu dagar móður minnar, 2009)

“I had decided to take Mother to die in Amsterdam.” So begins Sölvi Björn’s rambunctious tale about a mother and son’s boozy journey to seek a mysterious (and quite possible dubious) miracle cure in the Dutch Lowlands.

When a verdict of terminal cancer is passed to his mother, a larger-than-life character prone to tongue-lashings and sherry, Hermann, a 37-year-old recently dumped depressive, sets out to make the woman who raised him as happy as possible in her final days. However, with his own life falling apart, he struggles to hold on to hope for the both of them. When his online wanderings bring him news of a miracle drug known to bring people back from the brink of death, he decides to accompany his mother to the unconventional Dutch treatment centre where the drug is made available. Soon, the two of them head off to Amsterdam, hoping to meet with the mysterious Dr. Nowicky, the drug’s creator, but their journey to the clinic is continually thwarted by Hermann’s mother – one of nature’s natural misanthropes – who can’t seem to go anywhere without making a scene.

As the gormless Hermann follows in her wake, he does his best to keep the peace and adhere to the old woman’s every whim in her final days. Despite all their faults and frailties, the relationship between the two is unmistakable full of love and speaks to the strength of the maternal bond and the unequivocal devotion of family – no matter the hell they put you through.