Grown-up Things

Børja, Maria: Voksenting

– And then he tied my hands together, Kathrine said. She was talking about a friend we had known for several years.
– Above my head. But he left my feet free.
Someone took a deep breath.
– And then he said he would fuck me and told me to scream when I came. As if I could come.
Gina cleared her throat.
– Later, he called it sex, but it wasn’t, of course.
We hadn’t talked like this before, not all of us together. Not since we were about fifteen and one of us, Marianne perhaps, had hit a grown up man in the face. He had put his hand up under her skirt. At least that was what she said, but the story had been the object of a certain amount of doubt; she never wanted to say who it was.
– Did you tell him? Sophie asked.
– Tell him what?
She looked dumbstruck . Then she continued meekly:
– That it wasn’t exactly sex.
– No, Kathrine said, forward as usual. – I had been weak enough to kiss him.

These thirteen short stories are about sexually charged young women who with body and action touch, and are touched by, others. Maria Børja's debut explores the possibility of finding someone, getting someone, having someone. Jumping into situations without considering the consequences. Discovering oneself through others. It is a book that ponders the reasons to stay, and the reasons to go.

Getting involved with someone can be exulting and ecstatic, mundane and lonely, absolutely fantastic and completely impossible. GROWN-UP THINGS is a sassy, revealing and courageous book about all those things grown-ups can do to, and with, each other.

Praise for Grown-up Things:

“To point out authors that the author shares commonalities with can often be more obscuring than informing. Yet I would like to mention Hamsun. Both because of the sensual, confident language, and the surprising literary devices. A very promising debut – I look forward to more books by Maria Børja.”


“…she has the ability to discover a sort of nakedness in the depiction of relations, that can’t help but leave an impression. (…) The strength of the stories is in the establishment of situations. Here, Børja is very good.”

(Hamar Arbeiderblad)

“Sensual, close and moving about women, about women and men, about sex, about relationships, and about loneliness. Børja depicts social settings and experiences efficiently and precisely. (…) [She] touches on many literary genres in this collection, but has already established her own style and tone that bind the stories together.”


“Penetrating prose. Børja goes in close, finds the point where social dancing becomes off-balance, pokes at it. She does this in crafty and interesting ways, with dark humor. (…) Grown-up Things has that something that leaves you pondering, a little surprised and fascinated at the same time.”


“Erotic super-debut from Børja”

(Moss Avis)

“Maria Børja’s debut is a powerful short story collection about one-night stands and other grown-up things… Børja writes unabashedly and direct from the first sentence…What elevates this debut is the mixture of the politically and esthetically conscious. When I think the text goes in one direction, it twists, makes a stop, and changes direction. It touches me.”

(Bergens Tidende)

“It is really really distasteful. And therefore great.”

(Dag og Tid)

“Børja uses a language that hits you in the gut and walks the fine line between what is personal, and what is just vulgar and disgusting, but also between what is sad, and what is comical – or rather tragicomic… This read is intense and unusual, wrapped in a quick and concise language. Knowing that this sounds like a cliché: this must be one of the year’s best debuts.”


“…here are no speculative or lewd depictions. (…) For me, it is exactly the tension between focus on the body, and the lack of warmth and security, that the women in Maria Børja’s text are marked by, powerfully and thoughtfully described.”

(Tønsberg Blad)

First published: 2010, Forlaget Oktober
Maria Børja: Biography and bibliography

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