Klara Hveberg: Author and mathematician

Photo: Agnete Brun

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Magic trick with two Rubiks-cubes

Email: hvebergklara[at]
From newspaper reviews

Publishers Weekly (Starred review):

«Hveberg's rich, philosophical debut runs on ruminations about love, loss, and loneliness with two love stories, each involving a math professor and a brilliant student... Hveberg gives proof to a provocative equation for elegant fiction.»
...Hveberg's cerebral narrative, which treats knotty subjects – the Mandelbrot set, the Sierpinski gasket, the snake lemma, and the Myers-Brigg Type Indicator – in a playful way, often using clever puns («mi-Rakel»), puzzles and anagrams.

Kirkus Reviews:

«A novel of interior spaces that plumbs the depths of loneliness in order to find within it the origins of love.»
For Hveberg, the imbalance between Rakel's richly evoked interior life and the lack of agency she wields in her experiences provides an opportunity to delve into the character's vibrant intellect without diluting the reader's sense of Rakel as a character whose joys and sorrows reflect our own.

New York Journal of Books:

«Klara Hveberg has written a stunning debut novel about unrequited love, longing, obsession, betrayal, and more. Complex and alluring, it is framed by the author's – and the protagonist's – expertise in mathematics, as well as by music and literature.»
Aided by ruminations about numbers, music, and literature [the protagonist] comes to accept her fate in ways and words that make us want to embrace her as if she were a child who understands the world far beyond her years... She breaks [readers' hearts] by carrying on alone, exploring life's meaning in solitude and with a resignation as beautiful as a sonata or a great work of literature.

The Courier (Book of the week):

«The language has a mathematical musicality. Hveberg describes moments of romantic awakening with great poise and dexterity. Her prose is delicate and provocative, her metaphors balanced and well-formed. »

Book Riot (10 Absolutely gripping books to read in the new year):

«When you can make fractal mathematics sound like the most lyrical song — that’s talent.»

Adresseavisen (Vigdis Moe Skarsten): 6 out of 6 stars (paywall)

«Brilliant debut. A delightful history about the many aspects of love, and of the search for beauty in life.»
The novel has most of what makes a novel worth reading: An understanding for the contradictory in human life, filled with sensuality and intelligent reflections, wistful and tender with a humoristic undertone accentuating the seriousness of a riveting storyline. (...) In the space between reality and dream, the novel is full of fascinating ambiguities and elegant transitions. Full of suggestions and surprising twists that create curiosity and hold the reader captive.

Romsdals Budstikke (Øystein Hauge): 6 out of 6 stars (paywall, but also available here)

«Klara Hveberg has written a truly wonderful love story. A story composed mainly in minor keys, but with a constant humoristic undercurrent that appears both refined and organic.»
The book is also packed with well-tuned references to music, literature, mathematics, and philosophy. An ingeniously constructed and entertaining novel about fragile love where the melancholy is never far away.

VG (Gabriel Moro): 5 out of 6 stars

«Klara Hveberg has written a beautiful love sonata in D minor. I feel a little less lonely with this book on my nightstand.»
A remarkable novel about love, classical music, and mathematics. The author writes with great intensity and filmatic qualities. She even manages to infect the reader with her own enthusiasm for mathematical problems and philosophical thought experiments. (…) I was both intrigued and found myself falling in love with Rakel.

Dagsavisen (Gerd Elin Stava Sandve) (paywall)

«Mathemagical debut. This incredibly strong novel makes music out of mathematics and turns life into poetry. Bravo!»
Lean your loneliness slowly against mine is a story about longing. But also about love. About distance and closeness. Patience. What it means to be the other woman. (…) It can be read as a novel about origins, about parents and children, about how one is molded by what one learns at home. About being “different”, and about how narrow social space is for many people. It is a classical student novel about finding one’s real home at the university. It dissects the mentor and the teacher roles, and the often complex relationship between the parties. It takes up shame, love, loneliness, even existence itself. In addition, the novel gives insight into the interesting life and times of Sofia Kovalevskaya (…) There is a lot of mathematics, explained in an admirably simple and exciting way. And if one wants to see connections to the Bible, there are possibilities.

Vårt Land (Anne Schäffer):

«A mature debut where the author juggles mathematics, art and passion in a love story full of both humor and deep despair... The result is one of the most complex and interesting protagonists I have encountered in a quite extraordinary debut novel.»
She uses her knowledge in such a playful way that even a reader with a pronounced fear of numbers and with no understanding of half the formulas, can enjoy the beauty of geometric formations and get a feeling for how mathematics can help structure the world. (...) Lean your loneliness slowly against mine is a book about loneliness, and a novel about unhappy love told with humor and generosity. It is also a story about how art and mathematics can release something inside a human being. (...) Hveberg fills in layers of music, literature, and mathematics. In this way she draws up an outline of Rakel, colors her, and shades her with humor.

From reader reviews

Tine Sundal's book blog: 6 out of 6 stars

«The novel is recommended for everyone, but those who are fond of music, literature and mathematics will be particularly delighted by this little gem of a book. I give it top score: 6 stars out of 6»
This is a beautiful novel, and a story with several layers. The characters are superbly built, and the plot is driven by the love story and Rakel's fight against feelings of shame and guilt.

Ingun Kleppan's (Kleppanrova) book blog: 6 out of 6 stars

«This is a book you must read, it is incredibly playful, funny, sad and humoristic.»
A wonderfully exiting book. RECOMMENDED FOR EVERYONE!

Astrid Terese Skjeggerud's book blog:

«This book is full of beautiful sentences and nice ways of expressing things.»
The book is written in a beautiful language. I have reread several paragraphs and sentences because I found them so beautiful. It is not as sad as it may sound, but at the same time it is very sad. (...) I had a late evening yesterday, because I could simply not put down the book. Recommended.

Randi Landmark's book blog:

«This is an extraordinarily well written, riveting, and multifaceted book that is a pleasure to read. This is one of the best books I have read from 2019.»

Anniken Falch Hillestad on Radio Nova: Book recommendation:

«I have recently had a truly great reading experience! Lean your loneliness slowly against mine is Klara Hveberg's debut novel, and it is a sad, funny and beautiful story. (...) Rakel is a progatonist it is impossible not to love, and with Hveberg's simple, but rich writing style, this story will tug at your heartstrings.»

Oliver Møystad: NORLAS book recommendation for Valentine:

«Is it possible to write an original novel about a well-trodden subject such as the relationship between a young female student and her lecturer? Yes, Klara Hveberg has done it! Lean your loneliness slowly against mine is a little novel about mathematics, music and meeting one's first great love.»

On instagram


Mathematics, poetry, and classical music. Love and betrayal. What a novel!! I was entertained, touched, and terribly irritated. Loved it! This is Klara Hveberg’s first novel and I hope there are more to come.


This is a totally fantastic debut! Having read the good reviews in all the country’s newspapers, I delved into the book. And I am glad I did as I was immediately pulled into it; I got fond of Rakel; and it was hard to let her go when the book was finished. I hope there will be more books by Klara Hveberg, because with her books on the market one feels a tiny bit less lonely.


Me and my lunch are far from lonely in this company. A beautiful debut novel about love, math, literature, and loneliness – life itself. Read, read, read!


Lean your loneliness slowly against mine definitely lived up to my expectations. The story of a young student who starts an affair with her professor is perhaps not very original, but the characteristic protagonist Rakel triggered my curiosity from the first page. And there is something about books that dare to dig deep into shame that makes me want to read more and more and more, even when my body winces in discomfort.


Lean your loneliness slowly against mine is full of fine references to other authors (already in the title to Stein Mehren). Of language games and poetry, music, riddles, and mathematics. (...) And it is a tender story of a very complex and intelligent young woman, Rakel, who compares her life with that of the first woman to become a professor of mathematics, Sofia Kovalevskaya. I really liked it – a very good debut novel by Klara Hveberg.


What is most absorbing with this book is Rakel herself; she has a distinctive personality which at the same time is both desperate and lonely and vulnerable and tough and funny. A winner for those who like contemporary novels with women at the center.


I think Klara Hveberg has written a fabulously fine novel; Lean your loneliness slowly against mine is a book I will both recommend and give as a gift. (...) This novel has music, poetry, psychology, and history, in addition to some fine writing about mathematics. (…) Run and borrow or run and buy :)


I have fallen completely for this little gem of a book. Perhaps it is the loneliness. The complex love story, the search for hope. Perhaps it is these three themes together in combination with the poetic language. And all this despite the, for me, unfamiliar references to mathematics plus Rakel’s love for classical music that makes one hear of both Mozart, Bach, etc. Perhaps it is because I can recognize something of myself in Rakel. Loneliness. Love. Expecting too much of love. And the search for hope.

Karen Rosenfeld:

Lean your loneliness slowly against mine is the kind of book that grows on you after reading, when you have had time to process all the impressions the book leaves you with. I was surprised by how positive an imprint it left behind after I had finished reading. (…) I really enjoyed the slow rhythm of the story and the sensual impression of the words.


Just the title. It is lovely. And so is the rest of the book. Really fine and lovely. About Rakel and her life. (…) Somehow I was reminded of the beautiful writings by her compatriot Per Petterson.

Bookiecik (Dominika Rygiel):

It takes courage to combine the exact science of mathematics with fields such as poetry and classical music. Klara Hveberg not only skillfully weaves these seemingly distant areas, but proves that each of them can be and is in its own way a separate form of art, an artistry through which you can express yourself and your pain. (…) Lean Your Loneliness Slowly Against Mine is a novel written with above-average sensitivity, with tenderness toward the characters and their emotions, and with respect for the world of humanism and mathematics. An invigorating novel; so subtle, intriguing and beautiful at the same time.

Hopeforbooks (Dominika):

Lean Your Loneliness Slowly Against Mine is extraordinary. Written with great sensitivity and tenderness. This is a book for very sensitive people, for romantic souls. The story completely captivated me and found its way to life’s favorites.

Zuzanna Kowalczyk (Dziewczynazbiblioteki):

It takes a great deal of writing talent to play on such a clichéd theme as the core of this novel. And Klara Hveberg coped with it fantastically, because she created a heroine who looks at the world with unusual sensitivity (and even a certain neuroticism), and we have the opportunity to enter her head and feel all the emotions that affect her - and there is a whole range of them, although they are presented in a very subtle and far from banal way. Lean your loneliness … is not, however, a single-threaded novel — it is also a book about illness, human limitations and reconciliation with them. (...) Lean Your Loneliness Slowly Against Mine is a very lyrical and unique book, which touched a sensitive chord in me and left me with a sense of being heard, paradoxically, because I was listening. Rare are novels written with such great sensitivity, full of intimacy, so subtle but at the same time devastatingly sad. Gorgeous!

Zielonajasminowa (Natalia):

Lean Your Loneliness Slowly Against Mine by Klara Hveberg is a book beautiful from the head to the toes - from the cover to the end. (...) Klara Hveberg's novel is built of fractals, all the scenes scrolling through this story reflect the whole picture, it's amazing when you realize that everything in the book has its place, it is thought out by the author, arranged, and at the same time written casually, as if Klara Hveberg only wanted to recount reality and somehow it just happened (phenomenal, by the way).

Paya Tak:

BEAUTIFUL! As it is written, you just float in this mathematical-poetic-musical world. I was very captivated by this book, paradoxically my heart was stolen by the naivety of the heroine and her way of looking at the world. (…) It is primarily a story about a sensitive woman, a mathematician who loves words, beautifully constructed, beautifully connecting the world of mathematics and literature.


When I think of Lean Your Loneliness Slowly Against Mine by Hveberg, I feel a tug in my heart. I love such moments when the book not only met my expectations, but also left behind so much that it's hard for me to talk about it. I can't put it otherwise - it made me feel less lonely. (…) Klara Hveberg impressed me with her sensitivity and empathy. The author has an amazing sense of observation, and thanks to her education - she is a doctor of mathematics herself - she communicates what she notices in a unique way. Her text has a reflective, melancholic atmosphere, but at the same time the events are described so tenderly that you want to pick up the pieces and comfort Rakel. The narrative is poetic, and the language is truly enchanting throughout the novel. I was unable to tear myself away, and after all, this is not an action-packed, sensational book. Rakel's story, her thoughts and her view of the world - these elements make up this book. I already have a few contenders for my favorite titles of the year, but it is Lean Your Loneliness Slowly Against Mine that is currently the top, most beloved novel. A title that I stop at every day, walking past the bookcase with the thought, "I need to read this again, now, wait a minute!"


It has been a long time since I have read anything as beautiful and touching as Lean Your Loneliness Slowly Against Mine. (…) Beautifully written, poetic, wonderfully translated. Although the story seems simple, it touches the heart, it makes you stop for a moment and think about what love is and whether history really comes in a full circle. Absolutely unique, extraordinary, delicate, beautiful. Be sure to read it, and I promise you will have a literary feast that you will remember for a long time!


I read Lean Your Loneliness Slowly Against Mine by Klara Hveberg back in January and this is without a doubt my best book meeting this year. (…) This seemingly banal story of a romance between a student Rakel and a married professor Jacob is in fact a multifaceted novel about loneliness, longing, love, but also about chronic illness, hope, an attempt to understand the world and reconcile oneself with how it is. In addition, the fate of the main character with a non-accidental name is intertwined with the twin-similar fate of the outstanding mathematician Sofia Kowalewska. Almost every page of the novel, the structure of which resembles a fractal (!), contains mathematics and music. It is extremely intelligent, sensitive and beautiful prose, and at the same time (for me) extremely true. It struck almost every tender chord in me and triggered a series of memories, feelings and emotions.


This title. This cover. (…) The author's language, her susceptibility, sensitivity to emotions and, in fact, quite universal longing for being loved and understood. Difficult, beautiful, wonderful. I highly recommend it.

Oscwgardle (Joanna K):

I thought I would have one favorite book for life. That changed after reading Lean Your Loneliness Slowly Against Mine by Klara Hveberg. To put it mildly: this novel took me through one of the most difficult corners of my memory. I used to avoid big words, but I experienced personal catharsis. (...) This novel meant that I was in a cosmic minefield and, surprisingly, I survived this pressure safely.


This book is brilliant. A beautiful, moving story of the unfulfilled love of a student Rakel and her married lecturer Jakob. Rakel herself is brilliant. Unique and amazing. Gifted mathematically and musically. Perfect. So different in this perfection, so separate, so lonely.


The strangest, most unique and multidimensional story I have come across recently. You have to give it a chance because it surprises. It only settles in your head when the last puzzle snaps into place. And this probably proves the power of the book. The fact that you don't want to, don't understand, that you are afraid, and then it all comes together. And you cannot stop thinking, talking, experiencing the impossible.

Terapia_literacka (Ksiagarca Ewa):

I recommend and warn against this book, because while reading it, time stretches. The novel has an amazing fractal structure, that is, it is a collection of extended moments. Fragmented and repetitive. Copies that are reflected in each other. This novel is full of paraphrases, references and quotations. Sadness and joy intertwine and it was difficult for me to tell them apart sometimes. (…) This novel is wonderful. Demanding and intellectually stimulating. I don't think you can fully experience it by reading it only once.


It's been a long time since I had a book in my hands that was so beautifully written (and translated, of course). Although the author used a third-person narrative, we look at the world from Rakel's perspective, and therefore also with her extraordinary sensitivity. The heroine describes reality through the prism of mathematics and music, using a lot of comparisons to rhythm, bars, juggling scientific terminology so skillfully that it sounds like poetry.


Whatever the mystery is, there is something about Klara Hveberg's writing that fascinates the reader. The classic story of a love triangle, where a student has a romance with a married lecturer, in her view, gains depth and avoids sloppy sentimentality. (…) Like a nostalgic sonata with a recurring leading motif, Hveberg's book is ear-catching and heart-felt. I highly recommend it.


Gosh, how amazing this title is! And how wonderful that the content of Lean Your Loneliness Slowly Against Mine is just as marvelous. (…) The book is beautifully written, extremely poetic. The language is great, you can find many captivating (often with its simplicity) sentences here. I recommend this title to you and I hope you will love it as much as I do!


The title itself shows how beautiful fiction we are dealing with here. This isn't "just another" romance, it's a little piece of art that you can wrap yourself in. It is also a book written with great delicacy and sensitivity.


I sincerely fell in love with Lean Your Loneliness Slowly Against Mine by Norwegian writer Klara Hveberg. This is a novel about a highly sensitive mathematician. About her life. And love. (...) This is prose, but prose close to poetry.

Marika_reads (Marika Feldy):

Lean Your Loneliness Slowly Against Mine was read in the first month of the year, and I already know that it will be among my top books of this year ♥ (…) Rakel fantasizes about writing a novel and indicates what review would be the one she would most like to hear: «With this book on my nightstand, I feel less lonely". Dear author, Klara Hveberg - that's what I felt.

Ciagle_czytam (Marta B):

Lean Your Loneliness Slowly Against Mine is a book that delights, surprises, lifts and delicately stops. It is a novel that each of us will read and feel differently. After all, this is a difficult, demanding, and sometimes very engaging story. It delights with the poetry of words, numerical sequence, intelligent dialogues and in a moment it challenges you, slows down your thought process and makes you reflect. (…) Reach out because it is worth reading, especially for the poetry of words.


Apart from the beautiful title, nothing indicated that it would be such a good book. Because is it still possible to tell the story of a student's love affair with a professor without falling into banality? Definitely yes!


Lean Your Loneliness Slowly Against Mine by Klara Hveberg, tells the story of Rakel Havberg, which she dresses in the form of a fractal. A repeating story, only slightly twisted, is the leitmotif of this tale of words, music and math. And above all about love and loneliness. Numerous references to the historical figures of unhappy lovers, the parallel life of Sofya Kovalevskaya, an outstanding mathematician, and the repeated refrain of illness and love give this beautiful novel an amazing flavor.


This is not just a book about love, it is about math, music, illness, loneliness, poetry. Beautiful. I recommend it.

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