Sings with Her Eyes

Hval, Jenny: Inn i ansiktet
2012, Forlaget Oktober, 117 pages

SINGS WITH HER EYES is a fascinating critical exploration of the voice – what it means, and what it expresses. Hval’s personal experiences as a singer illuminate her intriguing reflections on the constraints and transgressive potential of the female voice, with references to art and popular culture. The book touches on the murky footage of a naked Paris Hilton, images of terrified girls in horror movies and the bizarre caricatures from Paradise Hotel.

It’s about making your voice heard through feedback at a concert, about the way the voice changes when you switch language, and about being harassed by a stranger in Perth. Throughout the book, Hval returns to Dreyer’s 1928 silent movie about Jeanne d’Arc; to the face of the actress who embodied Jeanne; to a woman who heard the voice of God inside her own body.


«Hval continues her critical study of how voice and gender are represented in this complex. Dreyer-inspired essay on white trash of Orleans
Klassekampen, best books of 2012

“Hval lets the human voice enter the world of letters in this rich, sprawling book with many layers of sound and quiet … Hval jumps effortlessly from one genre to the other. SINGS WITH HER EYES is a collage of essays, poetry and prose, without any clear overarching narrative structure. Hval enters into dialogue with her own work by commentary, quotations and associations … [the book] maintains her uniqueness and confirms Jenny Hval’s status as an important voice in literature as well”

“Powerful and sensuous, associative and insisting … The author’s analyses are confrontational, and being a musician, she writes with an impressive sense of rhythm. For a 70 year old who has read lots of clever, competent debuts by promising young writers straight from creative writing courses, it’s refreshing to delve into a writer – highly conscious of the fact that she is a woman – who doesn’t follow the rules, who dares to write as much with her heart as with her mind, who mercilessly uses herself … all in all this is a sparkling, thought provoking text on being a woman – today and in the 15th Century”

“With its lyrical, essayistic elements, SINGS WITH HER EYES can be characterized as an unpredictable novel. The story is subordinate to the author’s chains of association, so don’t expect a page turner. Instead, expect to be brought into the soundscapes of a highly relevant contemporary artist, expect a melodic text by an ambitious writer. And – if I get to decide – expect to hear more from Jenny Hval”
Stavanger Aftenblad

“Hval is as close to a contemporary renessaince woman as any I know of. She is almost activistic in the way she expands my horizon. Examples of this are most frequent in the book’s essayistic parts. Here the references are subtle and therefore unnervingly rethorical, almost beyond what the reader can discover or grasp: Simone de Beauvoir appears just beneath the text’s skin”

“SINGS WITH HER EYES is a poetic and personal meditation of the female portrait as form … Starting with Falconetti’s iconic portrait of Jeanne d’Arc and proceeding through associative YouTube surfing, the text moves effortlessly between a series of commenting motives … Varied representations of the vocalist, beyond mythomaniaque rock star clichees, are very welcome … I’m thinking genreless should be a genre of its own, and in this genre Jenny Hval has written a very good book”

“The musician and sound artist Jenny Hval succeeds with just about about everything in the novel SINGS WITH HER EYES … Sometimes you come across novels that make you feel that you are brought into quite unknown literary landscapes. [SINGS WITH HER EYES] is such a book … It’s about grasping the voice in words, about moving between text, music and images in a rhythm that is as catchy as it is absorbing.”
Hamar Arbeiderblad

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