The Way Through the Woods – overcoming grief through nature

Long Litt Woon

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  • Scribe Publications
  • 2021
  • ISBN 9781911617389
  • 304 pages
  • Softcover
  • 20 × 13 × 2.5 cm

Long Litt Woon met Eiolf a month after arriving in Norway from Malaysia as an exchange student. They fell in love, married, and settled into domestic bliss. Then Eiolf’s unexpected death at fifty-four left Woon struggling to imagine a life without the man who had been her partner and anchor for thirty-two years. Adrift in grief, she signed up for a beginner’s course on mushrooming—a course the two of them had planned to take together—and found, to her surprise, that the pursuit of mushrooms rekindled her zest for life.

The Way Through the Woods tells the story of parallel journeys: an inner one, through the landscape of mourning, and an outer one, into the fascinating realm of mushrooms—resilient, adaptable, and essential to nature’s cycle of death and rebirth. From idyllic Norwegian forests and urban flower beds to the sandy beaches of Corsica and New York’s Central Park, Woon uncovers an abundance of surprises often hidden in plain sight: salmon-pink Bloody Milk Caps, which ooze red liquid when cut; delectable morels, prized for their earthy yet delicate flavor; and bioluminescent mushrooms that light up the forest at night.

Along the way, she discovers the warm fellowship of other mushroom obsessives, and finds that giving her full attention to the natural world transforms her, opening a way for her to survive Eiolf’s death, to see herself anew, and to reengage with life.

 

Long Litt Woon (born 1958 in Malaysia) is an anthropologist and Norwegian Mycological Association–certified mushroom professional. She first visited Norway as a young exchange student. There she met and married Norwegian Eiolf Olsen. She currently lives in Oslo, Norway. According to Chinese naming tradition, ‘Long’ is her surname and ‘Litt Woon’ her first name. Barbara J. Haveland (born 1951) is a Scots-born literary translator resident in Copenhagen. She translates fiction, poetry, and drama from Norwegian and Danish to English, and has translated works by many leading Danish and Norwegian writers. Her most recent published works include new translations of The Master Builder and Little Eyolf by Henrik Ibsen and the first two volumes of Carl Frode Tiller’s Encircling trilogy.

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