Into the Woods - A Literary Magazine from Cappelen Damm Agency

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INTO THE WOODS A LITERARY MAGAZINE from Cappelen Damm Agency


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Photo: Guri Pfeifer

Cappelen Damm is Norway´s largest publishing house, publishing approximately 1000 titles a year within the genres of fiction, non-fiction, educational books and children´s books. Cappelen Damm is owned jointly by Bonnier and Egmont. Cappelen Damm Agency represents most authors published by Cappelen Damm. This includes authors published by the imprint Flamme Forlag. Contact: foreignrights@cappelendamm.no

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The magazine you hold in your hands is called Into the Forest. This is not necessarily because we, the folks at Cappelen Damm, think literature is best enjoyed out in the woods. One of the great things about literature is that you can read anywhere you like, whether it be on the couch, on the subway or at the beach. At the same time, I think a walk in the forest has something in common with reading. Both activities involve taking a step back, giving yourself a moment to breathe, creating a safe space for new experiences, before returning to the everyday rush.

06. LARS SAABYE CHRISTENSEN

Norwegian literature is characterised by its great diversity and strong voices across all genres. Into the Forest presents some of Cappelen Damm Agency’s authors within literary fiction, poetry, crime and narrative non-fiction. Here you can read about the Østby sisters and their book Diving for Seahorses, a fascinating exploration of the many facets of memory and how it influences our lives. We also have an excerpt from The Eyes of Rigel by Man Booker nominee Roy Jacobsen, along with an interview with Torkil Damhaug, twice winner of Norway’s most prestigious award for crime writing, the Riverton Prize. One of our most beloved authors, Lars Saabye Christensen, contributes an essay reminding us that the encounter between the reader and the book is a relationship that is unique in its intimacy.

32. DIDRIK MORITS HALLSTRØM

Personally, I believe that literature is also about sharing. Parents read books to their children, married couples read to one another, people discuss the books they’ve read, stories are shared. As our author Britt Karin Larsen puts it in the interview in this magazine: “The day I have nothing more to share, is the day I stop writing.” Into the Forest aims to introduce new voices in Norwegian literature, alongside established ones; it aims to spark even more unique encounters between book and reader—as well as to surprise, to create unexpected connections and to provide new insights across national borders.

on Writing

14. VIGDIS HJORTH

Wills and Testaments

25. ROY JACOBSEN

The Eyes of Rigel

On Horror

38. SIRI KVAMME

About Writing

44. PETER FRANZISKUS STRASSEGGER Interview

50. B ERNHARD L. MOHR:

Trying to understand change

66. TERJE BJØRANGER Interview

74. TOR BOMANN-LARSEN The Moment of Truth

78. BRITT KARIN LARSEN Interview

We hope you enjoy!

INGVILD HAUGLAND – Foreign Rights Director

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Photo: Magnus Stivi

LARS SAABYE CHRISTENSEN

On writing 6

Photo: Magnus Stivi

«With our hands on our hearts; we put ourselves in shackles»


I debuted as an author 41 years ago, and it’s with great pleasure that I can announce that I haven’t changed in the slightest since. Well, the sentences have become shorter and the metaphors longer, but my view of literature; not my literary view but my view on the writing, the reading, fiction’s essence and function, is set, yes perhaps a little more firmly. So apologies if I appear stubborn, or even worse in these factual times, arbitrary: Free literature is under pressure. By free literature, I mean the anarchistic yet disciplined fiction stemming from the poetic tension between freedom of expression and confidentiality. To put it more strongly. Free literature is threatened.

Well, the sentences have become shorter and the metaphors longer It’s not only threatened by commerce and the insufferable looping-numbers, resulting in lazy collective flirts with daydreams of erotic stags-in-the-sunset, or random serial killers in some godforsaken hinterland. It’s nothing new. It is old. These forces, if I can call them that, have always been there. The difference now is that they’re here in the warm, in the breeze, they’re compared, they spread, joking is taken at face value, and that means the bar of quality sinking continually lower, and that does something

It’s nothing new. It is old. These forces, if I can call them that, have always been there to aesthetic vigilance. We are banalised. Worse still, is another force, that not only affects literature; per-

haps literature is the most steadfast in this context, but the entire culture of creativity. It’s an ideological gravity, that barely resembles anything we’ve seen before, which will drag everything down to its lowest common denominator. It’s a whitewashing of the arts that ensures no one is offended, uncomfortable, shaken, weak-at-the-knees, excluded, or in any way affected.

Small words can topple heavy loads You see it at American universities. Dante must now bear the warning: Not for delicate souls. Oscar Wilde will soon carry an ‘18’ certificate. Mark Twain may induce laughter: watch out, laugh with your mouth shut. The ideal: polite emptiness. We’ll not enjoy ourselves to death, we’ll bore ourselves there instead. A long, drawn-out, death. Caricatures must nolonger caricature. Provocations should nolonger provoke. Every word must be weighed on so-called golden scales. We’re nervous wrecks before we even open our mouths. Small words can topple heavy loads. Everything is rhetoric. Everything is context. The tone must be right, or we’ll come after you. Even the novel must comply, otherwise expect reprisals from the shadow cabinet Not Factual. People cancel April-fools jokes. It might be confusing. Someone might think it’s true. Oh, do not lead us into temptation. I hereby propose: The Fourth of November Seriousness. On November 4th, there must be one true news bulletin, while the rest is a hoax, and the person who spots it wins his own prime-time TV show: 24 hours a day. What are we really afraid of? Then I ask, and I often ask this to myself, another question: What event in Norway has shaken, or let's say, affected literature the most during these 7


41 years that I've been a writer? I wish I could say, for example, Gro Dahle's metaphorical wisdom, Dag Solstad's existential pessimism, Roy Jacobsen's historical contemporary novels, Vigdis Hjorth's literary geometry where politics and love overlap in

We silence ourselves, while their language is violence’s alphabet: an armouring of words. unfamiliar twists, Tor Ulven’s European blues, or Knausgård, who turned the calm of the private life into a fictitious battlefield, all this and more besides, which is the depth of this literary stream. Unfortunately, however, I believe it was this: When three thousand fundamentalist complainants marched through Oslo's streets, in the spring of 1989, demanding Salman Rushdie's head on a plate, literally, not metaphorically, a death sentence. It started there. We silence ourselves, while their language is violence’s alphabet: an armouring of words. These people are agelasts, as Rabelais called them, they're out there still. They cannot laugh. They don’t tolerate laughter. When everything is holy, all humour is blasphemy. One state, a country, Iran, declared total war against a novel. It was a world war. Those who marched in Oslo that autumn were the ground troops. They obeyed their commands. Think about it: a nation declared war, on a book. An asymmetric war, the state's ideological and religious violence against a piece of fiction. Think again. This is also a victory for the novel. It demonstrates the unlimited power of literature. 8

The agelasts cannot make poetry. They cannot meet the author on his European home turf, in the story’s pacifist sphere. So they resort to censorship and violence, the Braille of the fundamentalist. That’s how it must be viewed: when one novel is subjected to this treatment all novels are at risk. And I sometimes think: it’s almost as though this uncivilised march passed us by completely. Or perhaps we didn’t take it seriously. It’ll work out. Everything will return to normal tomorrow. This is the tragedy of the tolerant: he cannot comprehend that someone doesn’t like him. It’s the tolerant shoulder-shrug. The arrogance of Western culture: we think that everyone wants to be like us; which is just another type of colonialism. If everyone waits long enough, then sooner or later they’ll become willing Nordic social democrats, out in the provinces, working voluntarily amongst the communal rock-piles.

This is a dream. The policy has become, not fiction, but dream

This is a dream. The policy has become, not fiction, but dream. The dream is form's victory over content. But the agelast’s march through Oslo consisted of a before and an after. Sin came to town, dressed as a carnival for the offended, the mistrustful and the humourless. Not only did it happen, but it’s become more pronounced, and more dangerous: one young Danish poet needed three bodyguards when he came to read at Litteraturhuset in Oslo (The House of Literature). Who could have imagined that in the previous century? Who would think, in their wildest imagination; a thing of the novel’s realm, that you’d need police protection when discussing freedom of


expression, or that a publishing house must be converted into a bunker when a Somali writer launches a book? With our hands on our hearts: we put ourselves in shackles. We now have a new agenda where form triumphs over content, messenger over message, in short, petty-bourgeois learnedness in new clothes: what you say, you must say in a good tone. The idealist knows nothing, as I said, about dreams. He believes everything is reality. And a good tone, as opposed to wicked tongues, is the preferred dialogue. In this new language, at least after 1989, dialogue, which once was an honourable word, now means stand at ease, possibly yanked back to the start. Radicalised, as all healthy people wanted to be before 1989, has become a religious diagnosis treated by a period in hospital or by state support.

And controversial, which in my old language was actually something to aim for, controversial, which was once a virtue, is now a warning

And controversial, which in my old language was actually something to aim for, controversial, which was once a virtue, is now a warning: stay back, do not touch, don’t even come close, beware your good name and reputation. When words change definition or are emptied of meaning in this way, one must be on guard. It's the times that are changing. It appears first in language. The actions start in the language. Trivialisation stupefies us. Vigilance and empathy fall dormant. We’re on our way to becom-

ing hostages between commercialism and brutality. Which is for example, how a commentator in this learned press can write, after a police officer gets shot in Paris, in the heart of France two days before

We’re on our way to becoming hostages between commercialism and brutality the first election round: The attack was so small that it won’t necessarily affect the election. So small? It’s so relevant it hurts. We’re now living in an age of reservations, we have so many of them that, in the end, we believe that nothing has happened. But more than 50,000 soldiers were needed to protect the French elections, 50,000 soldiers defending polling booths and voters in a European democracy. So small? To rephrase Georg Johannesen: The only book I would ever re-write, is the dictionary. Every terrorist attack is also an attack on literature, against the novel; which if I may say it so ceremoniously, maybe pompously, is the genre of freedom – against the boundless metaphor, and against the beauty and sustainability of language.

Every terrorist attack is also an attack on literature What is it that has stood so firmly in my view of literature? Wicked tongues may well say nostalgia. Well certainly. There is actually a substance called memory metal. It’s often used in spacecraft and has the ability, that no matter how much it bends, bows or tears, to return to its original form. Literature also 9


possesses this ability: To recreate something that has been. To impart that which will come. Literature reminds us. Literature is the cure for this moment of arterial clogging. But there must be something more: Writing reveals what is otherwise unavailable. Exactly what that consists of is impossible to say, which is why we continue to write. But I believe that literature should remind us of the tragic, and the blasphemous laughter must continue if we’re to keep going. Another

But there must be something more: Writing reveals what is otherwise unavailable thing that should not be forgotten: the intimacy of reading. The meeting between the reader and the book is an intimate relationship; while in progress it’s often private, closed, unavailable to others, without access, and that’s how it should be, unique. It also means that literature must be personal, selfreliant, individual; it must take risks, it should even risk becoming estranged from the reader, otherwise this relationship would be quite inadequate: if the author tailors his work to the reader, then the reader is reduced to being merely a customer, and the author into yet another liberal supplier in the service of emptiness: he delivers the goods.

Likewise, the reader must dare to take chances, this is both the reciprocal and the rebellious nature of poetry. Because there’s also a performance side to literature, where this quiet intimacy is exchanged for conversation, frivolity, brass-bands and reading aloud. In this day and age, which can also be called the age of worst-intentions, because everyone’s a suspect, this is something to preserve: It is soon the very last faith. It is the collective of literature, a stopping-point en route to what might lead to greater insight, alertness and joy. It is there, I mean here that we are now, this time at the Book Hotel, in what is called good company. I began by saying that I haven’t changed in 41 years. Stretching the point is also a literary tool. But I do wonder if I've ever written a truthful sentence. I have, after careful consideration, established that I did write one in 1979, in the collected poems Jaktmarker (Hunting grounds): The front-lines move quicker than thought. But I am, despite that, still able to write this little verse: His life was unsuited for memoir It was too mundane. He felt the need to write poems TRANSLATED BY: Matt Bagguley

Likewise, the reader must dare to take chances, this is both the reciprocal and the rebellious nature of poetry. Literature will soon be the last surviving refuge of the sacred and the jovial.

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Traces of the City: We've all stood on a street corner and let the city's lights and sounds pass by. What do we hear when we listen to the sounds of the city? What traces do they leave in us? Who is at the other end of the line when the phone rings? What story can we deduce from the protocols from Fagerborg's branch of the Red Cross in the post-war years? How do the stories all connect? When someone loses something, someone else finds something different. The city and the streets are the same as before, but the people who emerge in Traces of the City have never been seen before. At the center are Ewald and Maj Kristoffersen, but their fates are closely interwoven with the city and the streets they live on: At Bristol (where Ewald spends a lot of time with his colleagues), the pianist Enzo Borso plays, while above them lives the widow Mrs. Vik. Down the road a couple has a butcher shop. They have a son, Jostein, who goes deaf after a traffic accident. Jesper, Ewald and Maj's son, promises to be his ears in the world. The butcher couple and Mrs. Vik have a telephone, but not the Kristoffersen family. Maj is a treasurer for the Red Cross, where the female leaders are married to the doctor who declares Jesper to be too sensitive. Jesper takes piano lessons from Erzo Bonso, Mrs. Vik meets the widower Olaf Hall who runs the second-hand bookshop at the cemetery. His stepson, Bjørn Stranger, is the one who saves Jostein's life when he gets run over. We become acquainted with all these characters and more when we put our ears to the city's conch and listen to it. There are few – if any – who can conjure up a time and place in a way that makes it alive for us here and now like Lars Saabye Christensen. Through epic works like Beatles, The Half Brother and Magnet, Lars Saabye Christensen has created a universe that has become common property. With Traces of the City, he has written a breathtaking and magnificent start to what will be a new trilogy.

LARS SAABYE CHRISTENSEN (1953) has published a number of novels, poetry and short story collections since his literary debut in 1976 with The Story of Gly. His breakthrough came with Beatles (1984), one of the greatest literary sales successes in Norway that, over the years, new generations continue to hold close to their hearts. The author received the Nordic Council Literature Prize for The Half Brother in 2001. He has also received the Riverton Prize, the Critics' Prize, the Brage Prize, the Norwegian Booksellers' Prize, the Dobloug Prize and the Norwegian Reader's Prize. The author has been published in 36 countries.

English title: Traces of the city Norwegian title: Byens spor Author: Lars Saabye Christensen FICTION

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LARS SAABYE CHRISTENSEN

Traces of the City Kirkeveien starts at Frogner Square, where the tram makes a turn east, in the direction of Elisenberg and Solli. If you are traveling in that direction, that is, and want to get away from Fagerborg, away from Majorstua, away from this city, that I, despite of it all, love, for better and for worse; Better: its size and number of trees suit my mood. Worse: That the City will keep getting increasingly bigger is tearing away at the same mood. A city has to be its own age. If not, it will look like a child in a tuxedo, or an elderly person in a sailor’s outfit. Then it would only cause laughter, not longing. The boy, no, the young man, for he is becoming a man, sitting on the tram, the one you see passing by this early morning – while everyone is waking up to the saddest news a thankful population can receive – wants to get away. Away from Fagerborg, away from the city, away from it all, just away. His name is Jesper Kristofferssen and his packed bag is on the seat next to him. Notice the look in his eyes, if you have the time: Empty and open at the same time, he sees and is seen, by the way, there is a blue shadow under his left eye, a memory. He was once diagnosed as highly sensitive. That was long before he stopped playing the piano. We are walking in the opposite direction, on the left side of Kirkeveien, along the Frogner Park with the grand, some say exaggerated, Vigeland compound, that in the fall, as now, might resemble the great gardens of Russia at the turn of the 19th century; abandoned, melancholic and not least artificial stretches 12

with sculptures carrying the weight of the clouds on their shoulders. In the spring and summer this place is a whole different story. Mothers tanning on the benches, not letting the children playing on the grass out of their sight. Youngsters feeding the swans, but only to hide their true intentions, which is flirtation.

Melancholic and not least artificial stretches with sculptures carrying the weight of the clouds on their shoulders The breadcrumbs they drop in the pond, the fine dust of love. In the two restaurants, The Bridge and The Mansion Inn, we find the fathers in their white shirts, drinking beer from cool, foaming glasses. Everything is unworried and slow. Everything is carefree and passing. Everything eternal, blue sky mirrored in the shiny light of the pond. At that moment it's not art you value the highest, but life. TRANSLATED BY: Lotte Holmboe


The boy, no, the young man, for he is becoming a man, sitting on the tram, the one you see passing by this early morning

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Photo: Agnete Bruun

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VIGDIS HJORTH

Wills and Testaments A month later Astrid called. She would be turning fifty soon and was having a party with lots of guests, whom she thought I would enjoy meeting. She told me the date and I was free, she was pleased about that, she said, and paused and said that Mum and Dad would be there too. They so love a big party, she said, and didn’t say ‘one final’, but it hung in the air. She would appear to think that something had changed. That although I hadn’t rocked up at the hospital when Mum had her operation, then I had wished Mum a speedy recovery and probably understood that Mum could be gone for ever at any moment, and that I’d subsequently had a change of heart. It’s abstract to her, I thought. But it was all too real to me. Having to enter a room where my parents were and shake hands? Hug them? Say what? The others had met up regularly during all these years, they were at ease in one another’s company, I had

They so love a big party, she said, and didn’t say ‘one final’, but it hung in the air. chosen to distance myself and be the black sheep. Would I turn up, smiling, with a ‘hiya’? As though we didn’t view reality differently, in mutually exclusive terms, as though they didn’t deny the very fabric from which I was made. Had Astrid no understanding of why I’d done what I had done, how deep it went? She

talked to me as if it had been a whim, a fad, and the result of an immature, rebellious urge, which I could put aside when something more important happened. That I could ‘pull myself together’, make an intellectual decision to change my point of view, did she not understand the physical terror I felt at the thought of entering her house where I hadn’t been for years, where Mum and Dad came all the time, and see them, Mum and Dad. To Astrid, and to most of the others, they probably came across as two harmless, ageing, weak people, but to me they were giants whose grip it had taken years of therapy to shake off, was that it? Astrid didn’t understand how I could be scared of some stooping, greying, old creatures, but I couldn’t arrive at an airport without quaking with fear of accidentally bumping into them. What are you scared of, I asked myself on the airport train. I forced myself to imagine seeing them, confronting them like you do to cure yourself of a phobia. What would happen if I reached the airport and they were in the check-in queue? Fear darted through me! Yes, and so what? Would I walk straight past them? No. It is too stupid, too immature for a woman past fifty to dodge them, not to be able to greet her own parents in a check-in queue. I hoped that I would stop and ask where they were going, and they would tell me and then ask me where I was going and I would tell them and smile stiffly and add have a safe flight. Completely ordinary words, and perhaps it would be easy to behave like an almost ‘normal family’, but no! Because afterwards I would have gone to

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the lavatory and locked myself inside a cubicle and sat trembling on the loo seat and waited until they must have taken off, even if it meant me missing my own plane. It was hopeless. That I had made so little progress, that it could catch up with me at any time because I didn’t want it to catch up with me, I didn’t want to be in it, and now here I was again! I so wanted to be adult and calm and composed. I decided not to go to the fiftieth birthday party; I would invent an excuse and forget all about it. But I couldn’t do it. Because if my parents hadn’t been invited, I would

It was hopeless. That I had made so little progress, that it could catch up with me at any time because I didn’t want it to catch up with me, I didn’t want to be in it, and now here I was again! have gone to my sister’s fiftieth birthday party to meet the people she worked with, probably exciting and interesting and possibly useful for me. That was my loss. That I was so inhibited and paralysed that I had to stay away from something that might have been good for me. All of this because of my stupid childhood. That should be my epitaph: All because of my stupid childhood. Over fifty, but still suffering from that fear of parental authority which all children have. But which wouldn’t seem to affect my siblings anymore? Perhaps Astrid had invited us all because she thought I was free of my childhood, that I had worked through my traumas and my fear of my parents? Perhaps she thought old habit was the only reason I hadn’t turned up at the hospital, and that 16

now it was time to change old habits. So the invitation could be regarded as a compliment from Astrid, who thought I had made more progress than I had. Astrid, who thought that I was capable of turning up, smiling, unaffected by my parents’ presence, that I no longer cared about how they regarded me. I said that I would think about it. I thought of nothing else. I went for long walks in the deserted forest and imagined that I was on another continent where no one could reach me. No one can reach you, I told myself, if you’re unreachable. Who are you, I asked myself, and who do you want to be and what benchmark do you measure yourself by. The biggest? I imagined myself walking through the once familiar streets on my way to Astrid’s birthday party, a quiet Saturday afternoon in bright autumn light. Apples hanging ripe on the branches, heavy redcurrant bushes over the fences, bumblebees buzzing, and the smell of freshly cut grass. I inhale it gratefully, the bounty of the earth. Calmly I ring the doorbell and I enter my sister’s house.

TRANSLATED BY: Charlotte Barslund


Wills and Testaments Vigdis Hjorth's new novel starts as a classic story of inheritance, centred on two summer cabins on Hvaler.

Photo: Klaudia Lech

Two children have been looking after the place and their parents for many years. They are due to inherit the cabins. But there are two other children, who have partly broken away from the family. How do they fit into the inheritance dispute? During the inheritance discussions another story emerges which brings violent forces into play. It's all about family history. Wills and Testament is a very powerful and interesting novel, which certainly created great debate when it was first published in 2016.

VIGDIS HJORTH (1959) has made an exciting literary career and has written many popular books for both children and adults. Today she is an awardwinning author and one of Norway's most interesting, contemporary writers. She has won a number of prizes and awards, amongst them: The Gyldendal Prize in 2011, the Critics Award in 2012, The Honorary Brage Award and the Amalie Skram Award in 2014, The Aschehoug Award in 2015 and the Booksellers Prize in 2016. Her books has been published in Sweden, Denmark, France, Germany, Great Britain, Bulgaria, Iceland, the Netherlands, Russia, Finland, Poland and the Ukraine.

English title: Wills and Testaments Norwegian title: Arv og miljø Author: Vigdis Hjorth FICTION

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Photo: Agnete Brun

«I think the author's most important resource, besides a sense of language, is vulnerability. It’s about daring to put that to use.»


TORKIL DAMHAUG

Glass Heart

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It was probably a given that I would work with people, use my own experiences, and develop my own imagination, Torkil Damhaug says. It's really quite an unpleasant atmosphere you've created in Glass Heart. What are you most pleased to have achieved, personally? This story goes possibly more in depth than anything I've written before. I have a feeling of living close to all the characters; I’ve gone right under the skin of those with central roles, and the more peripheral ones. The characters are also both incredibly exciting and unusually believable. How have they been developed? It's about living with them, writing through their daily-lives, their crises, anxieties, worries and pleasures. I spend time getting to know them, to discover the most possible facets of each one of them. Which means daring to use many sides of yourself.

«It's about living with them, writing through their daily-lives, their crises, anxieties, worries and pleasures.» Does your knowledge of psychiatry come in handy here? First of all, it’s about using empathy, the ability to put yourself into the lives of others; daring to find what’s human and vulnerable in that which is apparently evil and ruthless.

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Are there any of the characters you developed a particular relationship with? I’ve most likely come closest to those through which the story is told. Not least Mikkel; on the threshold between youth and adulthood, and former lawyer Rivers, who’d just been released prison, after finishing his sentence for premeditated murder. And in Robin, who has a mental disorder, I see something of myself there too.

«Don’t ask where he came from, he just walked through the door and found a place in the story. It was a good while before I understood what he was doing there.» How did you come up with the plot? It was the relationship between the two brothers Mikkel and Robin, who are, in their own individual ways, outsiders. That was a starting point. From there I wanted to write some of the story through a person, Robin; who lacks the ability to tell anyone of the cruelty he’s witnessed, but tries to express it anyway. Rivers, the lawyer convicted of murder, also pops up early in the book. Don’t ask where he came from, he just walked through the door and found a place in the story. It was a good while before I understood what he was doing there. What motivates you when writing? I think the author's most important resource, besides a sense of language, is vulnerability. It’s about daring to put that to use.


On a more concrete level, it's about working extremely hard to write a better novel than any I've published before. The title of your novel Glass Heart, really arouses the curiosity of we readers. How did you come up with it? At one point in the writing, the title just appeared. It points to something very concrete; a crucial piece of evidence in the murder investigation. Simultaneously, it alludes to an inner state of fragility and perceived transparency.

Glass Heart: Robin and Mikkel are brothers. Robin witnesses the terrible thing that happens to his cousin Amina. He can't help her, nor can he get any help. Robin is unable to tell anyone what he has seen. While Mikkel knows something he does not want to tell. Not to anyone. Glass Heart is a story about recognizing evil when you meet it. About struggling to understand whom you are. But it is also a story about how far a person will go to hold on to love.

You’ve had many different roles in your life; physician, psychiatrist - but you’re also an author with a string of publications behind you. In a way, the common feature is that you’ve worked with both fictional and real people. You find yourself fascinated by people? It was probably a given that I would work with people, use my own experiences, and develop my own imagination. As a doctor, helping another person brings with it a strong sense of meaning. As an author, thinking about the lives of others – real or fictional – always aroused my curiosity. How would my own life have been if something had initially been different? Or if I’d made other choices, or if something had happened which made me change course? On a deeper level, it’s also about learning acceptance and to be grateful for the life I live.

INTERVIEW BY: Maria Myrvoll TRANSLATED BY: Matt Bagguley

TORKIL DAMHAUG (1958) has a degree in medicine with a specialization in psychiatry. His début novel, The Flight of the Moon caused a great stir when it was published in 1996. His Norwegian and international break-through came with the psychological thriller Death by Water in 2009. The novel has since beenoptioned for a movie. For the novel Fireraiser, Damhaug was awarded the prestigious Riverton Prize for best crime fiction novel in 2011. He was again awarded the Riverton Prize 2016 for the crime novel The Fifth Sesaon,

English title: Glass Heart Norwegian title: Glasshjerte Author: Torkil Damhaug CRIME

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EIVIND HOFSTAD EVJEMO

Welcome to us The last lawnmower is switched off at half past four; the garden erupts in a burst of sunshine, only to return to shade almost immediately. Someone brings tables and chairs outside, one of the neighbours tightens the rope of a hammock so it won’t brush the ground, should anyone decide to lie in it. The speaker cables just about reach all the way to the French doors, and all is well. Easy jazz wafts between swarms of midges and swathes of lilacs, between paddling pools and dartboards. Sella carries glasses, plates and cutlery outside on a tray, sets out an ashtray. She found a packet of cigarettes in a long forgotten jacket in the hallway earlier that day and decided to try smoking for the first time in years. A glass bird decorates the garden table; its breast is chipped. Over in the playground an adult kicks a ball so high up in the air that, for a brief moment, it seems as if it will never touch the ground again. The children vie to be the first to catch the ball before it lands, one of them will bump into the fence and hurt themselves. Later, one will accidentally cut their finger on their knife during dinner and have a BandAid put on it. When they have all gone to bed, another will get a visit from a mother or father who will sit on the edge of their bed and read them a story.

have been discarded on the floor. There is plenty of room now that they are one passenger short. The water bottles are empty. A bottle of pop sits warm and flat in the cup holder on the passenger side. The car is light-coloured; garden plants, trees and houses reflect in the windscreen, the driver and the passengers can just about be made out behind the glass. Otherwise everything is as it always is: the dog stickers are still visible on the rear window where their daughter put them many years ago, they feel the pothole in the road just as sharply as always when the right front tyre hits it, but their irritation is not as great as it usually is; nor does the driver swear when the fizzy drinks bottle topples and falls to the floor. And the sun just keeps on shining. The ferry which will take the islanders home waits for a ship carrying concrete to turn around in the narrow strait. Cries of frustration can be heard coming from the bridge.

While all this is happening, a family turns off at the junction after several hours on the main roads; the driver chooses a lower gear now that they are going through a residential area with its numerous “Caution, children playing, please drive slowly!” signs attached to trees and streetlights. They have many miles under their belt, the air inside the car is stale and oxygen depleted; ice cream wrappers and takeaway boxes with congealed hamburger dressing

Arild is the first to turn around; he is standing on the lawn squirting barbecue fluid on the charcoal, but is considerate enough to release his grip on the bottle and thus show a kind of down-to-earth respect. The car drives slowly down the street, almost ostentatiously quiet, as if it is trying to make itself seem more important than it really is. The trailer jolts whenever the tyres hit a pothole; slack from the straps trails across the tarmac like a weary beast of

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The scene freezes for a few seconds; the child stops, the car stops, a garden sprinkler has time to rotate four times before anything happens


burden that can no longer hold up its head. A football is kicked across the fence which surrounds the playground and out into the street, so that the car has to brake in order not to hit the child who chases after it. The scene freezes for a few seconds; the child stops, the car stops, a garden sprinkler has time to rotate four times before anything happens. Bark chippings are spread across a slope. Finally, the child breaks the spell and darts across the road. It retrieves the ball from under a fruit bush and sprints back to join the others. The people in the car continue their journey on downwards. Sella comes outside. She pauses on the top step to assess the situation. In her hands she has an ovenproof dish with meat wrapped in tinfoil. In small glass bowls: lemon wedges, chopped almonds, and basil from their own garden. She can make out the parents in the front seats; the mother clutches the steering wheel with both hands. She sees the boys; the younger has a travel pillow around his neck. They have been gone for a week and return just as empty-handed as they left. The curtains in their house have been drawn and a neighbour collected their post and cut their grass while they were away. They didn’t even have to ask him. They have picked her up, Sella thinks, they have brought her home.

Welcome to us: How to grieve in the shadow of a national grief? In Welcome to us we meet Arild and Sella, who each in their own way are coming to terms with having lost a son in a ferry accident. That was eight years ago, but after 22nd July 2011 their grief is reawakened. Welcome to us is a novel about the people on the fringes of the national catastrophe who are still drawn into its emotional undercurrent. It is also a love story about two people compelled to make the choices which keep them alive.

TRANSLATED BY: Charlotte Barslund Photo: Maja Hattvang

EIVIND HOFSTAD EVJEMO (1983) studied writing at Litterær Gestaltning in Gothenburg, Sweden. His debut novel Wake me if I fall asleep from 2009 won the Tarjei Vesaas’ First Writers Award. The last, You will see is a face of Love from 2012 recieved The Young Critics Prize. The novel Welcome to Us from 2014 received wonderful reviews. As well as a writer, Hofstad Evjemo is also the editor of the yearly debut anthology SIGNALER. In 2015 he was listed as one of the ten best Norwegian authors under 35, by weekly newspaper Morgenbladet and Norsk Litteraturfestival.

English title: Welcome to us Norwegian title: Velkommen til oss Author: Eivind Hofstad Evjemo FICTION

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Photo: Agnete Brun

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ROY JACOBSEN

The Eyes of Rigel PROLOGUE From above, Barrøy looks like a footprint in the sea, with disfigured toes to the west. But no one has seen Barrøy from above before, except for bombers, who did not know what they were looking at, and Our Lord, who did not seem to have any purpose in mind when He made this mark on the sea. Snow is falling heavily on the island, making it white and round – it will last a day and night. Then people will start drawing a black grid of paths across the white, the widest connecting two of the farmhouses, the old and run-down one at the highest point of the island, which is surrounded by a handful of trees, and the new one in Karvika, which is stately and resplendent, and resembles a beached ark in the summer. Then paths will appear between farmhouses and stables and jetties and boathouses and desolate buildings and cellars and hay barns and moorings, between workplaces and storerooms belonging to the people on the island, paths that will then be trodden into a mess of aimless and unrestrained squiggles, the tracks of children and games and transitoriness. There are many children on the island in this first year of peace – there have never been more. And then there is a dirty brown river that winds its way southwest through the landscape, and there are sheep going to graze on the seaweed to the south of the island. And Barbro hobbles along behind them with a pitchfork, singing at the top of her lungs, looking up at the dancing snowflakes and

snatching at them between notes. You might ask yourself why she is not taking the animals down to the shore between the new jetty and the Swedish boathouse, the shortest distance between the farmhouse and the sea. But Barbro knows what she is doing. It is late winter and the seaweed is in the south, tangled with brownish black rope from storms and wrecks, all washed up to the high-water mark, where it is icy and precarious.

It is late winter and the seaweed is in the south, tangled with brownish black rope from storms and wrecks, all washed up to the high-water mark, where it is icy and precarious. Barbro walks back and forth, separating the animals from each other so they can get to the half-frozen food. She gets hot and sweaty and sits down on a tree trunk that they found out here an age ago and secured with bolts and supports because they hoped it would one day be worth something. And she begins to wonder whether they have reared too many sheep this year, whether the starving animals will be able to have lambs in April and May, just like she always worries at this time of the year – she has worries for all seasons, even the summer, since it can rain for months on end. But then there is warmth behind her left ear, travelling down her neck, out across her shoulder and along her arm, which is resting on the tree 25


trunk, out into her hand. An internal hot spring flows from Barbro’s head and starts to drip from her longest finger, which is suddenly achingly stiff, like glass. She opens her eyes and realises she is lying on her back. Snowflakes obscure her vision, she blinks and sees Lea the sheep standing next to her, staring out across the sea, which is whiter than ever, still as milk with no birds, apart from the three cormorants sitting on the rock named for them, and they make no sound either. Barbro sinks her fingers into the wet wool and pulls herself up. The other sheep stand watching. She picks up the pitchfork, feeling a jolt through her core, and chases the flock ahead of her up the same track to the bog where they cut peat in the summer. She pokes holes in the ice so the animals can drink, and one after the other they make their way onwards and up, disappearing into the stable. Barbro brings up the rear, her hand still in Lea’s wool, not letting go until Lea also disappears into the dark. She closes the door behind her and stands looking towards the farmhouse, but does not see the hand waving in the kitchen window. Instead, she turns and follows the path down towards the new jetty, goes into the baiting hut and lets herself stare down at the three holes in the bottom of an empty line barrel while the wind batters a loose board in the south wall. She sits down, grips her net needle and thread, and her hands start their work. The door opens and a voice asks what she is doing. ‘Aren’t you freezing?’ It is Ingrid, who has seen her aunt from the kitchen window and wonders why she went down to the jetty, something Barbro often does, but today she did not come back up again, and a lot of time has passed, it is almost evening. Barbro turns, looks closely at her and asks: ‘Who are you?’ Ingrid walks closer and looks at her, tucks some strands of hair under her headscarf and realises she will have to answer the absurd question truthfully, in great detail. TRANSLATED BY: Sîan Mackie

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The Eyes of Rigel: The tale about Ingrid Barrøy, which started with The Unseen and continued with White Ocean, marked yet another break through for Roy Jacobsen. With these books he has captured new readers in Norway – and abroad. The first book in the series has been sold to 22 countries and is nominated to The Man Booker International Prize. The Eyes of Rigel is the third book in the trilogy. A strong, epic novel about a country and a people after a great war. In this moving story about a woman that does what everyone tells her not to – Ingrid ventures out on a hazardous quest to find the young Russian Alexander, a man she had a love affair with and who is the father of her child. The Eyes of Rigel is a very rich novel, and you are left with a well of impressions after the just over 200 pages – both moved and impressed!

Enlish title: The Eyes of Rigel Norwegian title: RIGELS ØYNE Author:: Roy Jacobsen FICTION


Photo: Hans Petter Sørensen

ROY JACOBSEN (1954) has since his literary début in 1982 with the short story collection Fangeliv evolved into an original, strong and analytical writer with a special interest in the underlying psychology at play in human relationships and actions. He is a wonderful storyteller with obvious political engagement. He has twice been nominated for the Nordic Council’s Literary Award: for The Victors in 1991, and Frost in 2003. He was also short-listed for the IMPAC Dublin Literary Award in 2009 for his novel Hoggerne. His books are translated into 31 languages. He was longlisted for The Man Booker International Prize in 2017 for The unseen, as the first Norwegian writer ever.

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Photo: Privat, Torbjørn Ekelund

TORBJØRN EKELUND

The Boy and the Mountain Picture a boy in a tent in a forest. The forest is old; it has always stood there. The boy is seven. He’s here for the first time. It’s evening. The trees are shrouded in water vapour. The rain drums against the tent canvas. The boy is sleeping. He turns in his sleep. He scratches his cheek, waves away insects in his dreams, pulls his sleeping bag over his head. His body is covered in mosquito and gnat bites. His arms, his legs, his temples, his chest. The father writes notes in his exercise book by the

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white light of a headlamp. He looks down at the sleeping boy and thinks: We’re the only people in this forest and nobody knows where we are. He stays sitting there for a long while before he puts his exercise book away. In the end, he turns off the headlamp and creeps into his sleeping bag.

Soon both of them are asleep and outside, the rain falls in the great, dark forest. Picture a morning in a tent in a forest. A fair head in the sleeping bag. Squinting eyes. Suntanned skin. An expression of amazement before he realises where


The Boy and the Mountain: The Boy and the Mountain is an expedition through Norwegian nature, a conversation between father and son about nature, about traveling outdoors with a backpack and a tent, and about how small humanity is when faced with nature.

he is. The boy looks up and smiles. Remembers. In a tent in a wood, that’s where we are now. He slides over towards his father and lays his head on his chest. I had a dream, says the boy, about the ants on the stone and somebody in my class. Did you? says the father. I didn’t dream about anything at all, but before I went to sleep, I thought that we are the only people in this forest and that nobody knows where we are. Now I’m wondering what the weather’s like and where we’ll walk today. The boy smiles. He listens out for rain but can’t hear any. They stay there, lying that way for a long time. Two people in an old forest. In a tent outside time.

In the summer of 1894 a six-year-old boy is lost under the mountain Styggemann in the area of Skrim. Hundreds of people search for him, but the boy is gone without a trace. 122 years later a father and his six-yearold son go hiking in the same area. Equipped with a tent and a backpack they walk through thick forest and windy mountains. The goal: The top of Styggemann.

TRANSLATED BY: Lucy Moffat

Photo: Marte Garmann

TORBJØRN EKELUND (1971) is a writer, author and part owner of the online magazine Harvest. He has earlier published the book A Year in the Forest - A Micro Expedition.

English title: The Boy and the Mountain Norwegian title: Gutten og fjellet Author: Torbjørn Ekelund NARRATIVE NON-FICTION

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TIRIL BROCH AAKRE

Save the children The snow falls heavily through the treetops, bright in the dark night. Melts into the stream that bursts up through the ice, disappears into the icy mist above the lake. Falls softly over the silent path, punctured by slushy footprints. Covers the rhododendron bush at the rear of the white house at the edge of the wood and lays itself like a little hat on the pole with the bird feeding-balls in their green netting. Drowns in the darkness of the valley glimpsed between the trees. Scatters across the roof of the house and grows in a thick carpet over the lawn. And then the howling of the train. Like the mating call of some vast beast. Conjuring pictures from another age; troops advancing along the bottom of the valley, some pretender to the throne on wooden skis, carrying a sword in a sparkling and virgin snowy landscape, like a tiny wooden soldier. Mammoths wandering into a newly unfrozen valley, the leader forcing his way through the greenery.

And then the howling of the train. Like the mating call of some vast beast A new house, with pillars. A home. For children's birthdays, dinner parties, for an infinity of ordinary, everyday meals, for padding footsteps in the night, from room to room, for fever and work – bent backs above notes and reports, above half-coloured mandalas. Clumps of hair picked out of plugholes, wrapped in tissue paper in the rubbish bin. Sluggish, overgrown ants. The green and translucent filigree wings clasped in hibernation along the inside of the

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window sill. Nights in darkness and nights with the lights on in the living room or the office. The living room resembles a greenhouse. On the plank suspended from ropes in the artificial beam, green hanging plants stand in rows; arums, filids, whatever their names are.

A new house, with pillars. A home. For children's birthdays, dinner parties, for an infinity of ordinary, everyday meals, for padding footsteps in the night, from room to room, for fever and work – bent backs above notes and reports, above half-coloured mandalas. A light-blue woollen child's sock, foot shaped, lies on the floor underneath the bulging, beige sofa. Along the staircase up to the first floor, row upon row of old family photographs; serious, peering ancestors; a generation of nervous and drunken dreamers with mask-like faces; dedicated clerks, mothers with short, cool gazes, vacillating sons and shrewd daughters with starched shirt-fronts and dress-fronts. Then the line of pictures breaks up into colour and chaos; more recent snapshots, diffuse, of a Norwegian family with young children, against fragmented backgrounds in which certain details are destroyed; a watering can with holes, a window sill with paint flaking, patches of flat, brown grass, piles of clothing, the natural smiles of children in the process of becoming artificial.


The large bedroom is at one end of the corridor. The door is ajar. The lilac coloured walls glow faintly. The silky soft grey bed linen in swirls and coils in the darkness. Where are they? Where is he, where is she? There. She's on her stomach with her hands under the pillow. Legs sprawled. One foot sticking out from below the duvet. The little toe curled in towards the other toes. He is lying on his side, turned towards her, one leg slightly behind the other, like someone fleeing in Pompeii. Him running, her falling, as though from a plane, before the parachutes unfold.

Save the Children: WINNER OF THE YOUNG CRITICS AWARD 2015. Tanja has moved to Hakadal outside of Oslo with her husband and two children. Here she tries to build a home, make packed lunches, keep the driveway clear of snow, teach her children the difference between right and wrong – and put the past behind her. This proves more difficult than she initially imagined. “Everything will fix itself overnight”, Tanja used to tell herself. She imagines falling asleep and that an ingenious clock is ticking inside her – securing, rerouting and reinstalling. But that is not how it works any more. At night the floodgates open. And suddenly she cannot get the days to connect. Save the Children is a warm, powerful novel about sorrow, fear and everday Sisyphean labour.

TRANSLATED BY: Robert Ferguson

Photo: Heidi Furre

TIRIL BROCH AAKRE (1976) is a writer, editor, translator and consultant. She made her debut in 2013 with the poetry collection Lace. In 2015, her first novel Save the Children received excellent reviews and she was awarded The Young Critics Award for it. She has since written the book Fjällräven Yellow, and is currently writing on the sequel to Save the Children. Tiril Brock Aakre is part of NORLAs New Voices-Program.

English title: Save the Children Norwegian title: Redd barna Author: Tiril Broch Aakre FICTION

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DIDRIK MORITS HALLSTRØM

On horror

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Photo: Stephen Butkus

Everything vanishes. The voices from the stand. The feet before me. The electronic bleeps separating the heats. Legs and movements in the pool. The enclosed chlorine heat. My arch rival swinging his arms a little further away. My nervousness of the pending 200 meter freestyle event. The place is Stavanger. The competition is called The North Sea Swim Meet, Nordsjøsvøm. It’s 1997 and I'm 13 years old. I'm in the C-group at Lambertseter Swimming Club and train 30,000 meters a week (it sounds like a lot, but believe me, to get anywhere in swimming, that figure should be double). I’ve two other interests in life beside swimming; the girl next door, Sigrid, and horror films. I’ve no chance with Sigrid, so it’s the latter that’s occupied virtually all of my weekends during the past year. My fascination with horror and trauma must have started somewhere. I don’t know why it happened. I think it’s always been a part of me. There are two types of people, those who turn away and those who look. I'm one of those who has to look: If someone is injured, if a finger is the wrong way round, if a graze slices down to the subcutaneous fat, if the doctor removes a mole from my thigh, school shootings, crimes, all these movies on the internet, if someone has died; I have to look. I don’t know why, but I have to know; try to understand. Occasionally I regret it, but I just have to look. Winter nights darken early, and the forest becomes scary. I find that it helps to close my eyes. Count. Open my eyes again. And when I do, it’s as if a transformation has occurred. It’s no longer the darkness that’s scary, it’s me. It's whatever’s out there in the

dark that's now afraid, of me. Perhaps it's just a defense mechanism, I don’t know. I sit at the swimming competition, and everything disappears, because I imagine I’ve got some kind of buffer. I've seen so much. Been scared in every way a 13 year old boy can. I'm toughened on horror and fear. I know that chainsaws beat shotguns. I know that the fastest way to a man's heart isn’t through his stomach; No, it's through his ribcage (says the housewife-zombie before ripping into her husband’s body). I know the policeman is the cruel mass-murderer. I know that children who drown in lakes come back. I know that in space no one can hear you scream. And I know that you must not sleep. One, two, Freddy's coming for you.

My fascination with horror and trauma must have started somewhere. I don’t know why it happened. I think it’s always been a part of me. There are two types of people, those who turn away and those who look. I'm one of those who has to look.

There’s only ten minutes left until I swim. The moment I've been training six months for. 200 meters with steel control, rigid body, head right down, advancing strokes and maximum kick. But everything’s gone, because in my hands I’m holding a 33


cheap paperback, plucked from a basket marked "Sale". It cost 49 kroner. The flimsy cardboard cover is red, and features the image of a shower drain. The writing bleeds through the thin pages and the pain grows inside me. It's like I’m falling down a long flight of stairs. I can’t escape. It’s all gone. Everything has been taken from me. My entire reference base. The school's self-proclaimed horror expert. The scary one. Me. The book I’m reading is Carrie by Stephen King and the fear is no longer on the screen two meters away. It's within me. I can’t remember how it went with the 200 meters’, but believe me, I remember Carrie. The writing in Carrie was so different, so fast. Uncompromising and hard. Determined and composed. It was so fucking purposeful. It never hesitated, it just tore ahead, pushing me forward. No humor or irony, just horror. Naked and ice-cold, like the bodies Carrie left in that gymnasium at some time or other in the late 70's. King wrote about the supernatural as if it was the most natural thing in the world. And fast. Two weeks was his record for writing a novel. I remember wondering if this was even allowed. Is it allowed to write like this? About this? At school I tried to adapt some of my horror movies into short, bloody, novels. I was told that I should write something real. Something less excessive. Something that happened during the summer holiday perhaps. Don’t be so childish, Didrik. King is a master at lying. He’ll make you believe in everything you’d normally have laughed at. Smiled at. Or even worse; not cared about. He has a nice sentence about it; so nice I've tattooed it on my left forearm, The Truth inside the Lie, he says. That's what good literature is about; finding the truth inside the lie. If you manage that, then you can take 34

your reader on the wildest journeys. You know, the rollercoasters with the longest queues. Where you need to be above 1.40. Where someone might throw up afterwards.

The fear is manifested in something evil and the wickedness is pure and almost childish in its form. There’s been a lot of talk about horror now, but I think it’s necessary for me to explain where I’m coming from. That we all have different entry points, to books and writing. Perhaps I want to defend the genre a little, good horror. Authentic horror is the product of an author who’s able to make us feel for it’s main characters. Their fear must be ours, otherwise there is no fear, which makes the book meaningless. The fear must be intelligent yet primal. Balanced and carefully timed. The fear is manifested in something evil and the wickedness is pure and almost childish in its form. So if King was allowed to write the way he did, then surely everything was allowed. And surely I could write too. I got older (it happens fast when you’re 13) and I read everything and anything, but returned regularly to King. Everyone feels this with some writer or other or some band or other. Common to everything I liked, both now and before; an almost consistent pattern if you will; is that what really touches me, what sticks for years afterwards, always contains a snap. An unexpected shift. Which takes the reader suddenly to the right or left. I don’t mean a hook. I'm talking about a genre shift. An effective thematic change. Motives and storylines that change abruptly. So discreet that I'm surprised in ways I’d never expected. Cross-genre literature. Lit-


erary work that writhes around. Refusing to lie still. Snapping and cracking repeatedly. A childhood-novel that becomes a crime-novel that becomes a love story that becomes a psychological thriller and then becomes something else. This is the power of literature, that it’s free, it’s not locked to a genre in the same way as movies, music or games. Because it's within you and the story becomes yours. It forces you to create your own imagery. It gets personal so terrifyingly fast. You've let it in. It's yours. The sharp turns that film cannot match. Tempo changes that would destroy a perfect pop song. Artwork that would lose impact in a multi-media piece. Music videos you say go too fast. Well, literature goes faster still. Literature is faster, harder, better, stronger; because that's the way our brains are. It’s not linear. It’s not in any mode. It changes. Fear, to love, then hatred, and back again.

Lightyears: Sunstorms have made the earth uninhabitable. Humanity's last hope, 24 selected passengers in cryo chambers and with erased memories, are on their way to the closest habitable planet – 543 years away. Norway, the only conscious passenger on board, does their duties, getting the best out of its watch and overlooking the strange banging sounds from the air conditioner. Lightyears is a sad, beautiful and exciting journey back in time and space.

Fear isn’t the door that opens and reveals it’s dark secret. It's the way to the door. The sounds. The scratching from the other side. Reality slipping away as you approach. Slowly, slowly. A good horror novel crosses genres. It must change it’s essence. If the wickedness leaps at your face on the first page, naked and revealed, it's not scary - it's just evil, without the fear. And evil can be fought. It’s the fear that paralyses us. My friend Dave said it so well: Fear isn’t the door that opens and reveals its dark secret. It's the way to the door. The sounds. The scratching from the other side. Reality slipping away as you approach. Slowly, slowly. TRANSLATED BY: Matt Bagguley

DIDRIK MORITS HALLSTRØM (1984) was born in Oslo, and is an Art Director educated at The Westerdals School of Communication. His debut You are not dead until I stop loving you, from 2011, was well received by both the critics and the readers. He has since written two more novels.

English title: Lightyears Norwegian title: Lysår Author: Didrik Morits Hallstrøm FICTION

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HILDE ØSTBY AND YLVA ØSTBY

Diving for Seahorses – A book about memory Deep down on the seabed, its tail carefully curled around the seaweed, it bobs gently back and forth with the current. There it keeps watch, the father seahorse, the only male in the animal kingdom to incubate the eggs in its own stomach until the young are mature enough to hatch and make their way out into the wider ocean. A mysterious, modest little creature, he is shaped like nothing else in the animal kingdom. But wait a moment. This isn’t a book about marine life. To find what we’re looking for in this book, we have to lift our gaze from the watery depths and make our way 450 years back in time. Let’s try that again: The year is 1564. We find ourselves in Italy — Bologna, to be more precise — and at the world’s first official university, established in a city full of colonnades and picturesque stone buildings. Doctor Julius Caesar Aranzi is hunched over an object of beauty. Though it’s possible that ‘beauty’ isn’t quite the right word, a slight exaggeration, perhaps, particularly for those of us not entirely absorbed by the very particular type of beauty associated with such a thing. The object in question is a human brain, presumably somewhat grey and shabby in appearance, and on loan from a nearby mortuary. All around him, seated on the benches in the auditorium, his students hang on his every word, as if he and the deceased are playing the leading roles in a theatre performance. Julius leans over the brain

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and slices through the outer layers, studying every millimetre with intense interest. He longs to understand the brain; he is absorbed by the idea of being able to describe it. His medical zeal exposes his lack of respect for religious authorities at the time, who were strongly opposed to the examination of human physiology at the dissecting table. He moves closer to the object of his research. Buried deep within the temporal lobe, he sees a small, curled, separate section nestled away. Doesn’t it look a little like a silkworm? Silkworms were hot stuff in Renaissance times. Silk is exotic and expensive; arriving in Venice on the Silk Road

Buried deep within the temporal lobe, he sees a small, curled, separate section nestled away. from China, it is well-loved by upper classes Italians. Julius looks again, then cuts around the small, sausage-like specimen and pulls it free: this act marks the birth of modern conceptions of memory and their liberation from the world of myth. But nobody is aware of this, not on this particular day in Bologna, where people wander to market with their wine and truffles and pasta, strolling beneath the mighty colonnades and medieval, red-brick towers. Julius inspects the specimen he has excavated from the brain, which now lies on the table


Photo: Anna Julia Granberg

Diving for Seahorses: Take a plunge into the science of memory, together with sisters Hilde and Ylva Østby. The writers explore the many facets of memory and how it influences our lives, both from a neuroscientifical perspective and through conversations with some of the most influential memory researchers of our time. They meet people with a special kind of memory – at both ends of the memory spectrum from mnemonists, actors and taxi drivers, to amnesiacs – and discover that most memories are transformed and some are best forgotten. Diving for Seahorses explains memory through personal and vivid tale telling, combining the best of two craftsmanships: Hilde is a novelist, and Ylva is a neuropsychologist.

before him, and he is struck by a sudden realisation – isn’t it more like a seahorse? Yes, a seahorse, that’s what it resembles, with a head that arcs over and around, and a tail that ends in a little curl. He calls this small part of the brain the hippocampus, which means ‘horse sea monster’ in Latin, and which is the same name used to describe a mythological creature that was thought to be half monster and half dolphin, and which people believed wreaked havoc in the waters of ancient Greece. The name was later used to describe the pipefish known as the seahorse, of which there are 54 different species, all the way from the tropics to English waters. On that day in Bologna 450 years ago, the dissecting table illuminated by a tallow candle, Julius Caesar Aranzi had no awareness of what this tiny piece of brain does for us humans. He could only name it. It was only several hundred years later that we started to understand the significance of the specimen that the Italian doctor held in his hands. Perhaps you’ve already guessed that this has something to do with memory — it is, after all, what this book is all about. TRANSLATED BY: Rosie Hedger

YLVA ØSTBY (1979) has a doctorate in neuropsychology from The University in Oslo and is one of Norway's leading experts on how memory functions. HILDE ØSTBY (1975) is a historian of ideas, author, journalist and former publishing editor. She made her debut as an author in 2013 with the critically acclaimed novel Encyclopedia of Longing.

English title: Diving for Seahorses Norwegian title: Å dykke etter sjøhester Author: Ylva og Hilde Østby NARRATIVE NON-FICTION

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SIRI M. KVAMME

About writing / why I write / into the white Only this. A white sheet. Like mist. Nothing really. Quite empty. And then something breaks, light comes in, some colors, sounds, like music, but quite weak, a mood, movements, something stirring inside, pulling me along. I’m longing to enter the space, to make it bigger, to see what's in there. So I begin to write. Letters forming words that become sentences and paragraphs, chapters, contours of a storyline become visible. Slowly. That’s how I enter this world; and become acquainted with the characters, keystroke for keystroke, writing myself into the landscape; constantly expanding.

When I write, I write with weight. Drilling further and further into what is aching. Poking around where it hurts, wanting to reach all the way in. Where does this weight come from, this quiet and insisting? I like to laugh. I like to fool around. Talk a lot. Me, longing for the lift, to lift the reader. Nothing is as liberating as laughter, pure and untainted, booming and real. But when I am writing, there is something else pushing through. It comes creeping out, seeping out of the cracks in there. Something dark and silent. I write from the place that does not talk, the silent place within me. The place without voice.

The start is so promising. Anything’s possible. Everything is pure potential. This enormous freedom attracts me and makes me dizzy. That is the best. To stand on the precipice, before anything, before the words, before the form, before everything, and then throw yourself into it. A fall; into this enormous task, the doubt, the pursuit, the joy, all the hope, that which trembles. Don’t give up. Don’t lose heart. Keep going. Delete. Write. Write more. Delete more. Doubt. Believe. Be brave. The fear mixed with joy as the text emerges, as one choice leads to another, and the sheet fills up, the white becomes the background and the choices diminish, the direction clearer. Something which grates. Something I cannot figure out. And just when I think all hope is lost, that everything was in vain, comes the lift. This thing I've waited for. Worked for. The bits fall into place, the text rises from the page.

And if I'm lucky, there's something in my text that stirs something in you. Something about the way I've assembled the words; what I’ve left out perhaps, what's omitted, the holes, the transitions, the subtext, the rhythm and the musicality; works on you and becomes significant. The whiteness must now yield; to the colours, the tastes, the smell, the song, the sorrow, the missing, the blackness, the shame, that which cannot be endured. That for which there are no words, but then words are all we have. Words and silence, whiteness and all the dirt, that we cannot wash away, that clings to us. That which is so difficult to talk about. That which makes us feel alone in the world. That which is found in the books and where we can go and feel less alone. That which gives the text value beyond itself.

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The World Plays Hide and Seek: Hanna, is in her thirties. All she wants to do is to be an author and to start a family with her boyfriend, Morten. But Morten shows very little understanding for both her writing and for her wish of becoming a mother. He has two children from a previous relationship and says he doesn't want any more kids.

Writing is to search for answers, knowing that all you’ll find, are new questions. Writing is a comfort, a slow and time-consuming detour into unknown territory, which nevertheless feels familiar. I try to write with sensitivity, curiosity and courage. I try to write where it burns. Why I write? Because I’m unable not to. Because there’s something that pushes me. Impressions needing to be expressed. There’s so much I don’t know, so many places I’ve not been, so I continue, where only words can take me.

Then Hanna is served some devastating news: She has an eye sight condition, which will slowly turn her more and more blind, with each year passing. On a trip to Iceland to take part in a half-marathon, she finally understands that she needs to change her life. During the race, instead of crossing the finish line, she runs off in the rural Icelandic landscape. The World Plays Hide and Seek is a novel about finding your own way.

TRANSLATED BY: Matt Bagguley

Photo: Gunvor Saltvik

SIRI M. KVAMME (1975) is a Norwegian author that lives in Haugesund on the west coast of Norway. Kvamme has studied Literature and Writing, and worked as a journalist and literary critic for over ten years before she started writing full time. Along with her writing, she also arranges a very popular Literary Salon in the public library in Haugesund. Kvamme made her literary debut with Red and apart, a collection of short prose.Her first novel Winter Heart (2008) was well received by the critics. In 2012 she published the novel Nightwanderer. The world Plays Hide and Seek, is her third novel.

English title: The World Plays Hide and Seek Norwegian title: Verden leker gjemsel Author: Siri M. Kvamme FICTION

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Photo: Agnete Brun

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SELMA LØNNING AARØ

Her Lying Face TRONDHEIM, 3 NOVEMBER 1891

The Latin school’s rooms are full to bursting. For a moment Anna feels ridiculously done up. The red brocade fabric strains slightly over her chest. She’s not used to getting dressed up. She doesn’t want to have to get dolled up for men or women. It complicates everything. She wants to talk to men. Those who have something to offer her, in any case. It’s unfortunate they have all the knowledge – none of the women around her read Nietzsche or Kant. They’re more interested in their children and sitting rooms. Anna can’t just be that. The need to write has become too strong. The desire to learn is choking her. Munch makes it difficult. He says he doesn’t believe in female intellectualism. He certainly doesn’t tolerate any form of female superiority.

The need to write has become too strong. The desire to learn is choking her. Anna has started to entertain the notion of leaving him. The family don’t know it yet, but with each passing day she drifts further away from Munch. They sleep in the same bed, and every evening she lies with her heart in her mouth, mortally afraid he’ll touch her, put his heavy hands on her. It’s his hands that decide what will happen. Her disgust can’t stop them, can’t deny them anything as they move over her body. Does he notice the abhorrence she feels? At any rate, he asks for less now than he

did before. They lie back-to-back, they don’t speak as often. Anna is afraid of what might happen if she spoke to him nicely, afraid he would misunderstand, that their conversation would turn into an intimate encounter she doesn’t want. She can’t read in bed anymore. He’s tired after working all day at the Latin school. He needs to rest. The light and the rustling of the pages when she turns them disturb him. Maybe it’s true, but Anna can’t help but feel it’s punishment for her lack of passion, a way of depriving her of something. She needs to read to be able to sleep. She needs to be somewhere other than in this bed next to him before she falls asleep, and in some way or another he’s worked this out. In the beginning, he let her read long into the night, even when he was starting early at the school. His new ban would put a stop to all escapism, once and for all. If she sleeps poorly, she’s also less likely to write. All the same, his temper is the biggest problem. Her mother and siblings don’t know how angry he can get, and over mere trifles. Anna’s mother loves him, almost flirts with him. She’s still a child in a way, was married off young and hasn’t had enough romance in her life. Now, after being widowed just over a year ago, she’s often to be seen arm in arm with her son-in-law as if they were newly engaged, and her mother giggles like a schoolgirl. She hasn’t seen how he can be if, for example, he comes home to find the start of a new story, something she has just jotted down in a hurry and forgotten to hide. Anna’s had to collect all the maids’ shopping lists to write on them. Munch has quite simply taken everything 41


else she could have written on. Locked away pens, ink and paper in the big writing desk in his study. It’s his study, his writing desk, but she’s sat at it and written when he’s been at the Latin school.

Anna’s had to collect all the maids’ shopping lists to write on them. Munch has quite simply taken everything else she could have written on. Locked away pens, ink and paper in the big writing desk in his study. She’s managed to write two novels without him noticing. With help from Uncle Lorentz, she’s managed to see her projects through. She sends the manuscripts to him by post, or with friends travelling to Kristiania. Uncle Lorentz sends replies back. She’s sometimes had to wait much too long for the post to make it across Dovre, but eventually it always come. When Munch found out that her first book was to be published, he was furious. It was at Easter in ’89 that it was confirmed Albert Cammermeyers forlag in Kristiania would publish it. She’d called it Women, about Bergljot, who was a victim of bohemian love, and her sisters. The book had made something of a stir. The reviews had poured in from the capital. Aftenposten wrote that the text had been ‘written with a delicate touch and dealt with deep psychology’. Morgenbladet encouraged its readers to ‘add it to your Christmas list’ and Dagbladet proclaimed that they had gained a new author in her. Book number two, a sequel to Women, was published the following year and obviously didn’t improve matters between them. 42

She’s tried to give it up, but she’s drawn to it. It’s like a pressure on her forehead. She can’t function with everything milling around in her head. If it doesn’t come out, it’ll explode. Her need to write had started after Bjørnson wrote A Glove. Of course it was great that Bjørnson was pleading their case, but women also needed to contribute, to show that they had a voice, that they didn’t actually need men to plead their case! As real women, not the likes of Svava. When the words are put on paper, it’s as if the pressure eases, as if she can breathe easier. They go for walks in the park and she is like the other mothers, feeding the ducks and talking about household matters. Signe likes her then, she notices. Of course Munch’s rage is a problem, but the real problem is that he doesn’t understand. She has to write. He responds to this by locking away everything she could write on, so she makes her notes on the maids’ shopping lists or buys new paper from the household budget that she hides all over the house. She feels a tug on her heartstrings when she thinks of little Signe. She wouldn’t only be leaving Munch if she decided to go, but also Signe, who turned eight over Christmas. The girl who has inherited Anna’s high forehead, but who deeper down has a melancholy and soberness that Anna herself has never had. What would Munch tell Signe when she’d left? What would happen to the child?

TRANSLATED BY: Sîan Mackie


Her Lying Face: In Kristiania in April 1897, the newspapers Morgenbladet and Verdens Gang announced that Knut Hamsun had reported Mrs. Anna Munch to the police and asked that her mental state be investigated. That spring, several anonymous letters slandering Hamsun had appeared in Kristiania. Hamsun was convinced that the letters had been written by the authoress Anna Munch, who was married to Edvard Munch's cousin, Peter Anker Ragnvald Munch. Anna Munch and Knut Hamsun first met during his lecture tour in 1891, when he went on the offensive against Ibsen and others.

SELMA LØNNING AARØ (1972) originates from Stord on the west coast of Norway. Her debut was the novel The Final Story in 1995, a novel that she won the Cappelen Damm Prize for best debut for. Selma Lønning Aarø has since written a number books within different genres, both adult and childrens fiction. She has been the editor of SIGNALER, Cappelen Damm´s anthology of new writing, together with Nils-Øyvind Haagensen, and for years she was a columnist in newspapers like Dagbladet and Klassekampen, well known for her self ironic and dark sense of humour. Her big breakthrough in Norway came with the novel Do you want another ride? in 2003, a novel that brought her a nomination for the Brage Prize. Her novel I´m coming (2013) has been published in Spain, Canada, Germany and Turkey. Her latest novel is Her Lying Face (2016), where she explores the life of writer Anna Munch and her troublesome obsession with Knut Hamsun.

To put it mildly, she was entranced. She began to follow him, even to Paris, and on several occasions she booked in to the same lodgings as he had. She constantly sent him letters, to which she eventually received no replies. In other words, she was a good old-fashioned ‘stalker.' The police were not sure that Anna Munch had written the letters. For a while they even wondered whether Hamsun had written them himself. This epistolary mystery is the starting point for Selma Lønning Aarø's artistic novel, which brings a forgotten author to life and, not least, says something about the major struggle female authors had to be seen and heard. The author has made some amazing biographical discoveries which help cast light on the most highly debated author in Norwegian history, Knut Hamsun.

English title: Her Lying Face Norwegian title: Hennes løgnaktige ytre Author: Selma Lønning Aarø FICTION

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Photo: Maja Hattvang

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PETER FRANZISKUS STRASSEGGER

The End of Our Flag “I’m trying to describe a sense of turmoil, a feeling of pending catastrophe, where we must arm and defend ourselves - even though it is peaceful around us.”

Peter Strassegger, who in 2013 won the the Tarjei Veesas Debutant Award, is back with his third novel, The End of Our Flag. This new book examines the fear many feel in today's Europe, starting with the anxiety he experienced when war in Yugoslavia broke out in 1991. “I think there’s a connection between the fear many people have in Europe today and the fear I experienced when war in Yugoslavia broke out in 1991. Back then I was seven years old and lived in Austria.” says Peter Strassegger. Read Dagsavisen's review: “Sharp and wise, about family and nationalism. Strassegger has delivered a highly readable little novel. Relatively short, but certainly thought provoking.” End of Our Flag begins with the Ten-Day War in Slovenia, and two siblings who, like Peter himself, grew up at an agricultural school in Austria, near the border with Yugoslavia. The children in the book live safely on the peaceful side, but find that their small world is threatened when the war breaks out.

“The book is about children who are afraid. They’re very much left alone, trying to make sense of the threat. To cope, they seek comfort in nationalism, and its old-fashioned ideals of bravery, courage, and a sense of love for the fatherland. During the writing process, I wondered if there were parallels with the emerging right-wing populism we’re seeing in Europe today,” says Strassegger. Depicting a child's perspective The narrator in the novel is a nine year old elder brother, and it's from his perspective the story is depicted; how he tries to raise his little brother to be manly and brave. Strassegger received the Tarjei Vesaas Debutant Prize for his debut novel Stasia, and also good reviews for his second book Before they collect us. In his new novel End of Our Flag he explores the consequences of xenophobia. “I’m trying to describe a sense of turmoil, a feeling of pending catastrophe, where we must arm and defend ourselves - even though it’s peaceful around us. It’s a little like what we’re experiencing now in Europe; where we feel threatened from outside and within, but don’t really know what the threat is, or what is being threatened, or what to do with this fear,” he points out.

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Strassegger explains that he consciously took a child’s viewpoint because it’s easier to understand their horror. “It's far easier to sympathise with the anxiety of the children, even though they’re quite nationalistic. These children are at the mercy of those around them, picking up ideas from the adults.” At the same time, he believes the transition from fear to nationalism can be the same in adults. “When so many people today vote for far-right parties, I don’t think it's because they’ve all suddenly become racists. I believe some of it can be blamed on the fears and insecurities of people which have not been addressed or taken seriously; they’ve been overlooked,” he explains. Room for interpretation The basis for the manuscript was to write a story about something vital; being a child, and the life that grows from it; in contrast to his previous novel, which dealt with old age and death. “I like to write about people with limited awareness, or understanding, like children or an old lady losing her grip. It provides greater room for interpretation; to create a universe where the unfounded exists, that which has no answer. The relational, what’s between the lines, the unfounded there; that’s what I’m concerned with.” The framework of the story is based on his own life. Strassegger grew up at an agricultural college in Austria, but his family moved to Norway when he was 12. In 2011, he visited the school he grew up in 46


and was struck by how empty it was. Everyone he’d once known was gone. “It was a very special experience. It was so dead, totally quiet, almost no people. And here is my whole life, the origins of who I am.” "Troubling story about being small and impressionable in an insecure world where adults fail," Dagsavisen’s review of Strassegger's novel End of Our Flag, says. He photographed a lot and used it in the writing. Used his own memories, researched what he didn’t know and wrote further. Even though the place and people are similar, very little of the content and events are taken from reality.

The End of Our Flag: In Rottenhof, brothers Adam and Florian are very much left to themselves in a small community where things aren't quite as they should be. They scout for robbers and jugosers in a barren landscape, and both look forward to and dread the impending war. Behind this veneer of childlike imagination, we are able to sense a society in ruins and a world constantly on the brink of war. It is also a story about how a small community is forced to react to abuse. And when the war ends and Florian gets sick, Adam's high ideals of bravery and love for the fatherland are broken down in the face of reality. The End of Our Flag is an enjoyable, brutal and substantial story about the crises mankind can't avoid.

Literature affects psychology. Besides writing, Strassegger works as a psychologist, which has influenced his books. Writing and psychology have much in common, he believes. “Whether you’re beginning therapy or starting a writing process, you need to be open. There's something you want to figure out, and you use language to achieve it. You go further and further until you find something you can live with.” First published on Forlagsliv.no TRANSLATED BY: Matt Bagguley

PETER FRANZISKUS STRASSEGGER (1984) was born in Austria but has lived in Norway since he was 12 years old. He was awarded the Tarjei Vesaas' debut award for his novel Stasia. He has since published the novel Before they fetch us, a novel that received notable reviews. The End of Our Flag is his third novel.

English title: The End of Our Flag Norwegian title: Slutten på flagget vårt Author: Peter Franziskus Strassegger FICTION

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LASSE W. FOSSHAUG

According to the Sea PROLOGUE: The roar and vibrations from the explosion had drawn people out onto the streets. They stood outside in robes, pyjamas, some only in their underwear, all turned towards the valley where thick smoke was pouring into the starry sky. Someone was crying, someone was kneeling on the sidewalk with their hands pressed against their mouth. Silence. Except for the car alarms, the screams, the sirens, the dog barking, the tires squealing, the children crying and the flickering of the flames that were closing in on the trees and houses around the factory, it was completely silent, an almost reverent panic everyone was taking part in, the certainty that there must have been at least a hundred people at work at the aluminium factory when it exploded, and that no one could have survived. Images of friends, family, loved ones who had burned alive, whose skin dried up like leaves in autumn, changed colours and shrivelled up, cracked open and fell off of flesh and tendons that were burned, charred, turned into ashes that swirled around in the draft from the flames and settled on the shoulders of the people on their way up to the factory who wanted to help, who wanted to save as many people as they could, but who were driven back by the heat and left standing at the gate to watch burning roof tiles, furniture, window frames and human bodies illuminating an entire valley with orange, red and yellow flames.

According to the Sea: Takes place on two levels: We meet the protagonist Ivan Ivanovitch as he arrives in our era after a journey through time from a relatively close future. He quickly finds lodgings in a hotel in town, and work in the local aluminum factory. Everything is going according to plan. And while life goes along as usual in the little village, with payday beers on Fridays at the Chinese restaurant, downsizing at the factory and football matches on TV, the reader gets to know more about Ivan's life before he ended up in a village in Norway – and you start to sense what direction the world as we know it is going in. This is a book about the little people in the big story. About the individual's role in space and time. The book reads as a thriller, with an innovative mix of worker's novel and dystopian sci-fi.

TRANSLATED BY: Rosie Hedger

LASSE W. FOSSHAUG (1982) is a critically acclaimed author, well known for his original style and fluent writing. His first novel, Over the Bridge (2013) was nominated for the Debutant Prize by the bookseller Norli. Fosshaug's second novel, According to the sea (2017), was equally well received in Norwegian media. In addition to his Bachelor's Degree in journalism, Fosshaug has studied creative writing at the famous literary writing school, Litterär Gestaltning in Gothenburg, Sweden. After many years working in communications, marketing and PR, he is now writing full time.

English title: According to the Sea Norwegian title: Alt etter Havet Author: Lasse W. Fosshaug FICTION

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BERNHARD L. MOHR

Why do Russians vote for Putin?

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Trying to understand Change Ten years ago, I was working as a business developer for Norway’s largest media company, the Schibsted Media Group. When SMG in 2005–2006 bought into a free newspaper in Saint Petersburg, I was posted to Moscow to help set up a sister newspaper. Moi Rayon (“My Neighbourhood”) brought a mix of local news and listings to the new middle class that had emerged with the boom in Russian economy since 2000. As the only Westerner in the entire newsroom, I got well integrated in a milieu of well-educated, relatively affluent Muscovites. Weekend after weekend my Moi Rayon colleagues introduced me to the benefits of Europe’s largest metropolitan area – while they were discussing upcoming holiday trips to Barcelona and Nice and typing sms-es on flashy new smartphones.

As the only Westerner in the entire newsroom, I got well integrated in a milieu of well-educated, relatively affluent Muscovites In 2006, Putin was midway in his second presidential term. Although his regime in a number of cases had demonstrated traits of authoritarianism, most experts still considered a democratic development in Russia to be both possible and likely. From my viewpoint in an organization dominated by liberal, western-oriented people, I found post-Soviet Russia to be a society still in the process of moulding. I was convinced that democratic forces were to play an important role in that process. When 2008 became 2009, the international credit

crunch hit the Russian economy severely. The advertising market was cut in half, and the Norwegian owners decided to sell off the Russian newspaper. I got a new job, and apart from an occasional Skype conversation and some messaging through Facebook, I didn’t keep much in touch with my Russian ex-colleagues.

Then, early in 2014 something occurred that brought everybody with a relation to Russia, back to the table, so to speak

Then, early in 2014 something occurred that brought everybody with a relation to Russia, back to the table, so to speak. As the Euromaidan movement in Kiev forced Ukraine’s president Janukovych to abdicate, Russia annexed Crimea. Russia also began a poorly hidden military intervention in Donbass in Eastern Ukraine. These repeated violations of international law were massively condemned in the West. But at the same time, a string of alternative perspectives showed up in my Facebook feed. “Crimea has been always Russian,” several of my former colleagues wrote. Moi Rayon’s former managing director shared a story entitled “USA planned a war on Russia and Ukraine already 15 years ago”. Another ex-colleague stated: “The bombs in [Ukrainian city] Lugansk is an attempt from the USA and Western countries to extinguish the Slavic people.” I was shocked to see that people who I ten years earlier had known as stern proponents of liberal and democratic ideas, now were in support of president Putin’s lawbreaking actions. Ten years ago they had been proudly challenging the Kremlin’s propagan-

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Illustration: Shutterstock.com

dist views, but now they were repeating lies from Russia’s state-run TV. What had happened to the pro-Western, liberal spirit that we shared back in 2006–2007? Why had people’s opinions changed? I realized that I had to go back to Russia, in order to understand the changes that had taken place in Russian society – especially among those middle-class urbanites I had felt such a close relation to. Between the autumn of 2015 and the spring of 2017 I carried out around 20 in-depth interviews with ex-colleagues and other well-educated Russian urbanites. I spent many days in Moscow and Saint Petersburg, but also visited Rostov-na-Donau and Taganrog in Southwestern Russia. Here, at the border to the war in Donbass, I learned how the Putin regime cultivates a state-of-war mentality. In Moscow, my former colleague Olga repeatedly insisted that “the chaotic 1990s will return” if Putin and the elite loosen their grip. In her view, Russia has always been better off with a strict ruler – she names Putin together with Stalin, Ivan the Terrible and Peter the

I realized that I had to go back to Russia, in order to understand the changes that had taken place in Russian society Great. Another former colleague, Oleg, told the story about how he, as a teenager, was sanctioned by the KGB for collecting LPs from the West. Having defined himself as pro-Western and liberal for more 52

than two decades, he now eagerly supports Putin. “What I realized, was that liberalism as a pure idea, doesn’t exist. What exists, are liberal cronies that fill their own pockets,” he says. In Saint Petersburg, Moi Rayon’s former managing director described a fight between “two tremendous propaganda machines” – led by the USA and Russia, respectively. According to her, Putin’s enforced control over Russia’s media works to the benefit of the Russian population. She finds it has made the public debate more, and not less, pluralistic.

“What I realized, was that liberalism as a pure idea, doesn’t exist. What exists, are liberal cronies that fill their own pockets.” There are obviously many Russians that disagree with Putin’s project, that do not believe in Kremlin’s visions. In Tulskaia oblast, a couple of hours outside of Moscow, I visited three families that had emigrated “internally”. As Russia’s annexation of Crimea led to a nationalistic and patriotic outburst, they decided to move “away from the tv”, as they said. I also met a former journalist who had given up her more-than-promising career, as “Kremlin doesn’t want independent journalism anymore”. Back in Moscow I talked to young Russians born after the Soviet Union collapsed. Are their reasons for voting – or not voting – for Putin different? The story then ends in Vilnius, where Moi Rayon’s former


Why do Russians vote for Putin? In 2006 Bernhard L. Mohr moved to Moscow – a lonely Norwegian in a Russian workplace, in a time when many still thought that a democratic development in Russia was both possible and probable. Ten years later, he went back to meet his old colleagues to get the answer to that one major question: Why do Russians vote for Putin? Why do they keep up with the support of what with western eyes may seem as a increasingly repressive regime?

editor-in-chief has taken refuge. How does he assess Russia – and Putin’s popularity – from his outside perspective? The book also raises a question of whether the relationship between Russia and the west could have been better if we had been more interested in getting to know Russia. Although Russia is Norway’s neighbour, no Norwegian airline runs a direct flight to any of Russia’s major cities. In Western media, very little news from Russia’s blooming cultural scene are conveyed – to balance the often quite harsh “hard” news from Russia. In the background also runs a question of how we – people in well-established Western democracies – would react to political leadership that starts manipulating our institutions systematically. In a time when election turnout is falling, skepticism towards the EU is increasing, and more populist politicians are coming to power, we should ask ourselves that question: Would we vote Putin? TRANSLATED BY: Matt Bagguley

Photo: Maja Hattvang

BERNHARD L. MOHR (1978) has been working as a journalist and publishing editor, as well as with business development and leadership within the Media Business. Why do Russians vote for Putin? is his first book. English title: Why do Russians vote for Putin? Norwegian title: Hvorfor stemmer russerne på Putin? Author: Bernhard L. Mohr NARRATIVE NON-FICTION

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Illustration: Shutterstock.com

LOTTA ELSTAD

I Refuse to Think A girl has no name was me, lying in a dorm bed, in a hostel between Friedrichshain and Kreuzberg, and life was as brutal as cholera. Brutal as the Sarajevo Method. Or a country road with dense tracks of flattened frogs that didn’t make it across in time. Or being forced to make nice with an enervating individual whose very personality slowly but surely starts infecting you. Or the three Australian backpackers on the floor under you playing Shithead. On and on they jabbered, rattling off the names of the cities they had at their feet. I politely declined their pub-crawl invite—clearly a sympathy offer, since Talk to me was the last thing I was telegraphing with my body language and empty facial expression. They sprayed themselves with Axe (in lieu of showering) and I was alone in the room. I heard the thump-thump-thump from the bar on the ground floor. I stared at the ceiling, regarding its graffiti, too old for this flophouse for partygoers where the receptionist’s name was Max. Max, who smoked joints and offered me “free walking tours” in a city I’d honestly seen a hundred times before. No, I was not interested in having first drinks on the house. No, I did not want someone pointing out tourist attractions 54

to me on one of those disposable hostel maps. I was here because of the 13-euro bed only, and I would be gone the next day. The bus to Copenhagen cost 25 euro and left at ten in the morning; and once again, my chest wanted nothing more than a sizable flush with Liquid Drano to dislodge the clump that oppressed my lungs. If only it were that easy: to tramp down the stairs in my Campers, run to the nearest Kaiser for a bottle of the stuff, and pour it down the hatch, followed by a full pot of boiling water. The thump-thump-thump stopped. It was probably after ten, when the house rules required quiet. Too early to sleep (an ability long gone anyway) and too late for coffee. I needed to be doing something. I should have brought my laptop here. I should be reading smart articles. Yes! If only I’d brought my laptop, then I’d be reading smart articles—hell, I’d be writing smart articles. I’d be plugging away, doing the research, pitching ideas, reading press releases from the Berlinale, sitting down with Israeli artists in exile to discuss the irony of it all, to end up in this city of all places, 70-odd years after the war, in flight from a constructed homeland, since of course, What is a home really, as that Mossad agent pondered in the Spielberg movie, and what’s more, I’d have tolerated


the avalanche of furious emails because I’d dared to refer to a work of historical revisionism. In short, I’d be using this experience for something constructive, something creative, making myself worthy of a place in the world. I would be uncompromising, driven by shame, if nothing else to strive for a wild and poetic life. I would not be picking up my phone and creating a Tinder account. A pulsating balloon of hearts floated across the screen. L’appel du vide, as the French might say. Or was this dépaysement? This is how I meet Milo.

I Refuse to Think: I Refuse to Think has much of the same sharp and smart humour of her earlier books. We meet Hedda Møller after a traumatic plane landing and hazardous journey back to Oslo, though a Europe in crisis, on buses and trains, dirty hostel rooms and a one-night stand in Berlin that will just not stop sending messages in CAPS LOCK. Back home she discovers that she is unwantedly pregnant. That should be an easily solved problem. It´s not. I Refuse to Think is a dark, feministic contemporary comedy about politics, love – and an abyss that I getting dangerously closer.

TRANSLATED BY: David M. Smith

Photo: Oda Berby

LOTTA ELSTAD (1982) is a writer, journalist, historian and non-fiction editor. She has since her debut in 2008 published several acclaimed books, both narrative non-fiction and novels.

English title: I Refuse to Think Norwegian title: Jeg nekter å tenke Author: Lotta Elstad FICTION

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BRYNJULF JUNG TJØNN

All the Light and all the Dark The saw was drilling its way through the log. I was covering my ears, sawdust flying around like in a snowstorm, Father in the middle of the storm, with safety goggles and earmuffs, time and again spitting sawdust, coughing, but never stopping. Sometimes I would think about all the sawdust that he would have swallowed, that it would end up in his stomach, and that that might be why he did not eat much, because his stomach would be full of a doughy, tough mass of sawdust. But he would always make me dinner. He would turn off the saw and the storm would settle, he would be white as a snowman, brushing away the wood chips and become Father again. He would follow me home, cook a warm meal, and make sure that I would sit down by the table to do my homework, even if I did not always want to. Then he would put on his work gloves again, the gnarled, orange gloves,

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and go back to the sawmill. Later he would come home again, read through my homework, and he would smell so good, his beard full of forest. Father would cook supper, and I would watch a bit of TV, brush my teeth, put on my pyjamas and get under the covers. Father would sing, and even if he did not believe in God he would say a prayer of sorts, to whom I do not know, but every night he would say: Watch my little Girl, in all the light and all the darkness. Then he would close his eyes – and it was like he held back tears every time – kiss my cheek, get up, turn off the light, leave the the door ajar, stand there for a second until I could bear to be left alone.


– Is it OK now, Vibeke? He would whisper. – No. Wait a little bit longer, I would whisper back to him, with the covers all the way up to my chin, thinking about all those sounds that would stay away as long as he was present. All the shadows that would not dare to appear in the presence of my father. But soon he would have to go, and I would give him permission to leave, I would have to tell him that it was OK, because if I didn't, the sounds and shadows would taunt me for not daring to be alone. So I told him – before I really wanted to, with a hurting heart –Father you can go now, as quietly as I could. And I could hear him walk down the stairs and disappear from the night. And at that moment the creaking in the corners would start, the creaking in the ceilings, the creaking behind the curtains, the crawling along the walls, across the floor. The sounds would always appear when Father left, and the shadows would follow the sounds. I would pull the covers over my head, forcing myself not to scream, not call out for Father, but just think that it would soon be over, soon all the sounds and creaking would give up, I was just being tested, it was just to see how long I would put off calling for Father, but I would show them, I would not call for Father, I would make it all on my own this night too.

All the Light and all the Dark: Pregnant Hildegunn calls on her mother Vibeke for the first time in many years. By this action we are thrown into the story about Vibeke and her childhood in a small village on the west coast of Norway. Gradually we draw closer on a dramatic event that has come to put its mark on both women. All the Light and All the Dark is a story about coming to terms with the past, communicated in a beautiful and sensual prose.

TRANSLATED BY: Lotte Holmboe

Photo: Anna-Julia Granberg/Blunderbuss

BRYNJULF JUNG TJØNN (1980) made his literary début with the novel I came to love in 2002. He has since published a number of books for both children and adults. His novel for Young Adults, You are so Beautiful , won the Brage Prize in 2013.

English title: All the Light and all the Dark Norwegian title: Alt det lyse og alt det mørke Author: Brynjulf Jung Tjønn FICTION

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Photo: Fredrik Arff

HANS OLAV LAHLUM

Sign of The Five PROLOGUE: When my wife died, I managed to focus all my energy and hope on the future that was my son, rather than the sad past my wife had become only days after her death. In the decades that followed, I lived for my son. When he then died forty-five years later, I managed to make a similar adjustment and focus on the future that my grandson represented. But when my grandson died, there was no hope left, no future to live for. In one fell swoop, I was cast back two generations and six decades. Dark rooms that had been almost completely sealed off in my mind began to open again. And in a strange way, I then became caught under their spell. In the week following my grandson’s death, my thoughts started to circle events from my youth, during the war. Once again I pondered my wife’s tragic fate and why I had lost her so early, why we had only ever had one of the four children we so wanted. With increasing frequency, my thoughts revolved around the five people to blame for the earlier misfortunes in my life, and thus for the fact that I was now alone, with no hope for the future. It started as a desire to know what had happened to them. Suddenly I felt the need to find out how the lives of my five enemies, Eberhard, Franz, Vincent, Paola and Bruno, had unfolded. I wondered how they had managed to carry on after the terrible things they had done in their youth, if they were still alive, and if so, if they had more to look forward to than I did. Even before Ole Martin’s funeral, I became

With increasing frequency, my thoughts revolved around the five people to blame for the earlier misfortunes in my life.

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obsessed with finding out what had happened to the five people who had ruined my life. When it dawned on me that time and technology had opened up new possibilities that could give me the knowledge I had deserved for decades, but never been able to access, it felt as though the outcome had been preordained by either a higher power or a ruthless fate. For me, and for those who had ruined my life. Throughout the Christmas holidays, I continued to resist the urge to start hunting for the stories of the five demons who had made my youth hell during the war. More and more, I was haunted by the nightmares of my past as I slept, and found myself churning over the memories of them when I woke. This evening, as I stood here alone by the photographs of Ole Martin and watched the fireworks light up the neighbourhood outside, I realised it was no longer a question of whether I would seek out the truth about the past in the year ahead, but rather a matter of when – and where it would lead me.

Sign of The Five: This is a psychological crime novel that both on the investigative and criminal side take up in it universally human topics like sin, punishment, revenge and forgiveness. The main narrative of the novel is about how both assailants and victims decades later still live with traumatic memories of things that happened during World War II. The book focuses on the nature of war and how it can affect especially young people very strongly.

I realised it was no longer a question of whether I would seek out the truth about the past in the year ahead, but rather a matter of when – and where it would lead me.

TRANSLATED BY: Kari Dickson

HANS OLAV LAHLUM (1973) is a historian. He made his literary debut with the critically acclaimed biography Oscar Torp in 2007. He has since published several crime novels and non-fiction books. His crime novels have become bestsellers in Norway, and are available in English, Greek, Turkish, Bulgarian, Danish, Vietnamese, Portuguese, Russian, Slovakian and Korean. 60

English title: Sign of The Five Norwegian title: De fems tegn Author: Hans Olav Lahlum CRIME


«At the bottom of every thought is a feeling» BEATE GRIMSRUD

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MARIA BERG REINERTSEN

The Journey to Bretton Woods It seems like a dream: up elevators, through endless walkways, past an indoor waterfall, still more corridors, doors gliding open and shut, before finally, the man is standing in front of me, the man with no name, no face. He says I can refer to him as a “high-ranking official.” Actually, he represents one of the most powerful countries in the IMF, and he’s telling me about his attempts to reform the organization and the obstacles he faces from the most powerful country of all, the United States, which can block anything meaningful. After this encounter, new corridors, new elevators, past the indoor waterfall, yet another door, yet another high-ranking official. This one has a name: Peter Gakunu, an envoy of the powerless. Gakunu represents 19 African countries on the IMF Executive Board, 19 countries with one place at the table and under three percent of the votes. “This is an institution that is very hard to change,” he tells me. And through all the day’s events, the ceaseless murmur of falling water. Indeed, there’s a lake in here as well. No, make that two. Two small oceans in the building, as though the World Bank and IMF have never completely disembarked from the Queen Mary, but are on the same perpetual ocean voyage. And in a way, that’s not far off the mark. 70 years later, the institutions remain stuck in the same division of powers that was negotiated on that Wednesday in the middle of the Atlantic in the summer of 1944. And strangely enough, the European delegates

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who sailed zigzag over the ocean that week, most of them having lost their homelands and economies to the German occupiers—those very delegates are more important to understanding who decides what in the IMF today than the high-ranking officials I met on this slightly absurd, but otherwise very real summer day in Washington, 2006. Summer, 1944: After a quick breakfast in the officers’ mess, the day’s first meeting commences in the library of the Queen Mary. “The meetings began Monday morning and for the most part took up every day of the journey up until 7 in the evening, interrupted only by brief lunch breaks,” writes Wilhelm Keilhau in his report to the Norwegian government from Bretton Woods. The long meetings were “led with great verve by Lord Keynes,” he writes. Far from Bolton’s acerbic comments about uneventful meetings and Beyen and Boël’s incessant squabbling, Keilhaus’s report leaves the impression of concentrated energy and productive cooperation.

After a quick breakfast in the officers’ mess, the day’s first meeting commences in the library of the Queen Mary. The Norwegian is right that they laid down new proposals for a “great many clauses.” The assertion that Keynes led the meeting from morning until evening is also correct—in any case for late risers who use


Photo: Sergey Goryachev / Shutterstock.com

the term “morning” loosely. But what Keilhaus’s report leaves out, is that he himself wasn’t even present at half of the meetings, a fact confirmed by the British minutes. This Wednesday, the Allies weren’t invited inside until a quarter past noon. So why does Keilhau brag about being at meetings from morning to evening? In reality, he was free to stretch out on the sun deck while the British embarked upon the journey’s diplomatic main course: Keynes’s blueprint for the World Bank.

The Journey to Bretton Woods: Early one summer´s day of 1944, a small group of economists set to sea. Their wish was to create a better world. In their wake, London was getting over the first attack performed with the VI – the flying bomb – Hitlers new super weapon. Under the deck of the boat, 2000 German war prisoners from the landing at Normandy were kept. On the bridge, Commodore Bisset, the English commercial fleet´s biggest hero. Ahead of them all – seven days at sea, journeying to the Bretton Woods-conference in the US. Reinertsen tells the tale about the boat journey that would lay the grounds for world economy the way we know it in our time, 70 years later. During the crossing the travellers drafted what would become IMF and The World Bank. Because of the war, the Atlantic more or less vast and empty, apart from the group of economists on deck discussing rules and deprecation of currencies. What was the effect it had on the world in the half century that followed, and what traces can we still see today?

TRANSLATED BY: David M. Smith

Photo: Fredrik Arff

MARIA BERG REINERTSEN (1980) is a social economist and journalist for Morgenbladet, a Norwegian weekly newspaper, where she writes about financial matters for people who are not necessarily interested in Finance.

English title: The Journey to Bretton Woods Norwegian title: Reisen til Bretton Woods Author: Maria Berg Reinertsen NARRATIVE NON-FICTION

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TOR EVEN SVANES

To the Western Ice Since returning from collecting the hunters to help with skinning, Erik has paced around on board with a restless unease. He dashes up the three steps to the firing range on the forecastle, then turns and bounds back down. He flicks the safety catch off on his rifle and immediately flicks it back on again. He takes aim and peers through the scope, even though there’s nothing to hone in on. As they near the ice sheet, where close to thirty seal pups lie huddled, he still cannot settle. He flicks the safety on, off, on, off. From where she stands, she can see Arentz following Erik with his gaze from where he stands on the bridge. She leans over the gunwale and lifts her binoculars to eye-level. Young harp seal pups. The odd hooded seal. She estimates that they are less than a hun64

dred metres away when Erik takes the first shot. She sees the bullet hit the flippers and the ice under the seal is quickly saturated with colour, but she knows there is no chance that the shot killed the pup. No vital organs anywhere near the flippers, only blubber and flesh and pain, and then she hears the next shot. It flips the pup over onto its back. She watches it flounder helplessly as it attempts to flip itself back over again, she feels it pining for the edge of the ice. The third shot tugs the pup’s head backwards and puts a stop to its flailing.

TRANSLATED BY: Rosie Hedger


Photo: Shutterstock.com

To the Western Ice: At the start of the seal-hunting season a sailboat leaves the quay at Tromsø. On board is a young, newly qualified vet on her first tour of inspection for The Fisheries Department. She is alone with a crew of seal-catchers and hunters, and will be with them in the icy wilderness around Greenland for six weeks. The narration in To the Western Ice is vigorous on every page, consistent in style and shocking and uncompromising in content.

Photo: Anna-Julia Granberg / Blunderbuss

TOR EVEN SVANES (1978) has a Ph.D. in media studies. He made his debut as an author in 2006 with The Second Son, followed by Hotel Eldorado in 2011. To the Western Ice, published in 2016, is his third novel. It has been widely acclaimed by critics and readers, and has been sold to Germany and Denmark. The film rights has also been optioned.

English title: To the Western Ice Norwegian title: Til Vestisen Author: Tor Even Svanes FICTION / THRILLER

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Illustration: Shutterstock.com

TERJE BJØRANGER

Crime has become rougher Crime has become rougher, extends across national boundaries and is better organised than before. This calls for entirely new capabilities within the police, says police prosecutor Terje Bjøranger. In his novel, Barcode, he gives us insight into a fearsome reality. As a lawyer working within Kripos, the Norwegian National Criminal Investigation Service, Terje Bjøranger has a better overview of organised crime than most. International child abduction and people-smuggling cases are among the problems he deals with every day. 66

‘I work with international police co-operation, through for example Interpol and Europol. Some of the types of cases I can mention are international child abduction and international pursuit of people who have committed serious crimes.’ When Bjøranger worked in UDI, the Immigration Directorate, he also acted as prosecutor in such cases. These could for example involve people-smuggling, exploitation of illegal workers, use of false documents, false identity, money-laundering and receiving of stolen goods. Based on real police personnel This experience is reflected in Bjøranger’s novels. In Barcode, we meet prosecutors who are involved in such cases.


‘The characters, events and problems in Barcode are largely inspired by real life, though not the plot itself. And I must admit that Charlie Robertsen is based on police personnel I have worked closely with.’

Police prosecutor Terje Bjøranger has written about investigator Charlie Robertsen, who comes face to face with a dark side of Oslo as he investigates a mysterious killing.

Wanting to tell the important stories Bjøranger has always written, and he wants to tell important stories. His previous novel, The Third Sister, was considered so relevant that it is used for teaching both in the police and in the child protection services. ‘I have had literally hundreds of rather detailed conversations with girls in the main character’s situation, exposed to forced marriage, death threats, violence or other honour-related reprisals. It’s important to tell these stories.’ Now Bjøranger hopes that his new novel will open further windows for the readers. He wants to show us a reality we otherwise wouldn’t know about. That’s what drives him to put that little extra into his writing, he says.

The new digital reality The digital world has changed the police’s methods of working, but is also being used by the criminals. Bjøranger explains that one of the saddest effects of this is how easy it has become for sexual predators to make contact with children through social media. ‘This is now one of the high priority areas for the police. The police need to be on the same sites, know the codes and preferably be ahead of the game. The digital world obviously gives the police many new tools, but at the same time it also gives criminal networks new possibilities both for monitoring police activity and for committing serious crimes.’ And more and more challenges face the police, he confirms: ‘Those who read the various open evaluations of the 67


Photo: Agnete Brun

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range of threats, which different police authorities issue every year, will be able to see that some forms of criminality are very well organised. And they’re becoming rougher.’ I ask him if he has had any thoughts about what police work will be like in the future? ‘By my reckoning, I think that international police co-operation, high competence in social media under the so-called “dark net,” the hidden part of the internet, will play a bigger role in routine work. The keyword for the police is multicompetence.’

Barcode: A young woman is found brutally murdered near Sognsvann. She is dressed in police uniform and has an unmistakable tattoo on her chest. The next day, a top politician from the Labour Party jumps in front of a train at Lillestrøm station. As Police Detective Charlie Robertson dives into these cases, he sees connections no one else is willing to see. Robertson and his team get entangled in a pitchblack Oslo in which drugs, prostitution and human trafficking operate freely.

Difficult to expose trafficking The secondary characters in Terje Bjøranger´s novel are victims of trafficking – I ask him to try to explain how big a problem this is in Norway today. ‘Personally, I think the hidden numbers may be big. I don’t think anybody knows how big the problem is. Trafficking, or trading human beings, can involve both prostitution and forced labour. I think a Europe with big economic inequalities, combined with reduced border controls, gives opportunities for those who want to exploit other people. For the police, such cases present big challenges in assembling evidence. People exposed to the trade in humans will often refuse to reveal the perpetrators behind the scenes. This can be for fear of reprisals, but it can also be because the incomers are actually better off in this situation than they were before. I think this particularly applies to human trafficking connected with forced labour.’ He concludes: ‘The picture can be very complicated. Those who are being exploited can in some circumstances themselves be guilty of exploiting others. That leads to a mutual dependency which can be difficult to break up.’ This interview by Maria Myrvoll was first published on Forlagsliv.no TRANSLATED BY: Frank Stewart

TERJE BJØRANGER (1959) resides in Lørenskog and works as a Police Prosecutor for Kripos. He debuted in 2012 with The Third Sister. Bjøranger has also worked with the Norwegian UDI for several years in areas such as forced marriages and honour crimes.

English title: Barcode Norwegian title: Barcode Author: Terje Bjørnager CRIME

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STIG SÆTERBAKKEN

Through the Night FUCKING BLOODY SHIT Grief takes so many forms. It’s like a light switching on and off. It’s on and it’s unbearable; then it goes off because it’s unbearable, because you can’t have it on all the time. It fills you up and it drains you. I forgot that Ole-Jakob was dead a thousand times a day. I remembered a thousand times a day. Both were unbearable. Forgetting him was the worst I could do. Remembering him was the worst I could do. It was a chill that came and went. There was never any warmth. There was only ever chill or the absence of chill. It was like standing with my back to the sea. Ice-cold ankles every time a wave crashed. Then it ebbed. Then it flowed. While I stood there, the sun set and the night came, and that night has lasted ever since. In the days after the funeral I did very little except watch TV. I hoped that if I didn’t move, if I concentrated hard on the screen, the hurt would fade and I would enter that other dimension where pain doesn’t exist. One evening I watched a Pink Panther film. It was the one where Inspector Clouseau, played by Peter Sellers, interrogates a wealthy English family and gets his hand stuck in the glove of an old suit of armor and wreaks havoc in the drawing room as he tries to finish his Poirot-style summary. I couldn’t stop laughing. I had been sure that I would never laugh again and now I was howling with laughter, it felt as if an animal inside me was trying to eat its way out. I had to turn off the television; if I had watched the rest of the film, I would have exploded.

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‘Fucking bloody television!’ One night when I had gone outside for a cigarette in the break between two TV series I had started watching, I saw Eva’s shadow passing across the yard like a ghost. I heard noise coming from the garage, but thought nothing of it. When I returned to the living room, an axe handle was sticking out of the screen, which looked more like a viscous black mass than shattered glass. Eva was standing in the middle of the floor wheezing as though she was struggling to breathe. Fortunately – or unfortunately – Stine was there, hugging her knees and crying so there was no question of me doing anything other than try to comfort her. As I held her, it struck me I had nagged Eva about this for years, the hours she spent in front of the television had driven me insane, the lack of initiative they represented, the utter waste of time which she defended as downtime, vital - if I had understood her correctly – so she could recharge before the next battle, as if only her work was real and the rest of her time served purely for her to recover her strength. It suggested she had given up being who she really was when she was at home with me, with us, that she reserved her real self for her work, that she no longer had to make an effort, as if her work with me was done, as opposed to her work with others: all this would well up in me at just the sight of her slumped on the sofa, her face bathed in the all-consuming glare of the television screen. After the television had been destroyed, long walks replaced CSI Miami, Dexter and the old classics on TCM. I preferred routes I hadn’t walked before;


Through the Night: Dentist Karl Meyer's worst nightmare comes true when his son, Ole-Jakob, takes his own life. This tragedy forms the springboard for a complex and diverse novel, which asks essential questions about human experience. What does sorrow do to a person? How can one live with the pain of unbearable loss? How far will a man be driven by the grief and despair surrounding the loss of his child?

I even discovered some new ones. When overhanging branches brushed my jacket, I imagined that no one had been there for years. At night I would sometimes see a light, several lights, diminished by the distance, but still visible through innumerable gaps in the foliage. The indicator light from a car might appear right in front of my eyes, followed immediately by a traffic light changing from amber to green, far far away.

Through the Night is a dark story, drawing on elements from dreams, fairy-tales and horror stories, as it explores the mysterious ways of sorrow and love.

Every time I came home, I would wait in the hall, listening before I went in to hear if anyone was crying.

TRANSLATED BY: Charlotte Barslund

Photo: Jo Michael

STIG SÆTERBAKKEN (1966-2012) was one of Norway's most critically acclaimed authors. His books have been compared to works by artists such as Beckett, Bernhard and Polanski. Sæterbakken's novels often explore the inner life and morality of human beings. A darkness looms in his stories, and yet they are written in a brilliant language.

English title: Through the Night Norwegian title: Gjennom natten Author: Stig Sæterbakken FICTION

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NORA K. EIDE

Your Family Your Descendants

Photo: Private

After I am buried, my family will move on. They will have new children, eating away the years, pushing out several unique combinations of faces and characteristics, and sooner or later they will have a child that looks a lot like me. When that happens, they might not notice the resemblance. They might not even remember that I once existed, even if they might have heard my name, said that it was a nice name, but a bit to ordinary, nothing they would call a child of their own. So the child will be named something else, and it will not speak the same dialect as me. The child would not look like me in all ways, just some ways, three or four fundamental ways that would be quite striking if I would still be alive. The child grows up, looking more and more like me. Loveable in some situations, terrible in others, the child is struggling with the same things I struggle with. It will never understand two important things. This will bother the child for the rest of the child’s life, and I feel that I need to leave messages. Explain the things to the only person that would understand what I mean. To the child that sooner or later will appear in a pocket of time, an eggcup of genes, I want to leave a letter or a message that reads: You are right. They are wrong.

Your last goodbye The sound of my sister pulls through the wall. She is mumbling silently by her desk, recording the weekly podcast that she never publishes. This is her last 72


broadcast, and she is saying goodbye to the listeners not present, the listeners she never had; Farewell people. Farewell, you. This is my last goodbye, this is the last time, and she stops the recording, does a retake, trying to find a better way; Adios, people. Thanks for stopping by, people. See you later, stay tuned. During the evening, she does twenty farewells. Looking for a worthy goodbye, a last bow to the thousand followers she envisions around the bed, and I hear it all, with my head against the mattress and ear to the wall, pressing my cheek into the bed sheets hearing her take such care, recording again and again, her voice weary making the final greeting to the one listener she does not know she has.

Your Family: A young woman finds new parents online. A little girl gets lost in the store, and when called upon, her father insists that she is not his child. An actor is hired to act an older brother that has been lost. A man catfishes adoptees looking for their families. Three siblings play house. Everywhere we look there are family relations, no matter who we are, we all come from a family, or something that was or could have been one. The short stories, texts and points that builds Eide´s debut is sometimes hurtful, sometimes funny, but all the time thought provoking portraits of family ties and human loneliness, that even in the warmest embraces appear to go hand in hand.

TRANSLATED BY: Anette S. Garpestad

NORA K. EIDE (1987) was born in Trondheim and now lives in Oslo. She made her debut in 2017 with the short story collection Your Family. English title: Your Family Norwegian title: Familien din Author: Noras K. Eide FICTION

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Photo: Jan Haug

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TOR BOMANN-LARSEN

The moment of truth It was 2.15, in the early hours on July 17, 1918. The location was the basement of Ipatiev's house, Yekaterinburg, Ural. Present were eleven heavily-armed guardsmen and an equivalent number of victims: Tsar Nicholas, his wife Alexandra, five children, four servants and a doctor, Dr. Botkin. There's only one actual time, only one clock running: The present. The past is a reconstruction, the future - a prophecy. It's only in the moment that it happens. Only there that life exists; and death occurs. A moment has one characteristic; it cannot be caught, but we’ll never stop trying. Photography, film, audio-tape, poetry; countless efforts devoted to this one task, capturing the moment. To write history is to enter a time capsule - armed with hindsight. A paradoxical act - journalistically present and academically distanced. Three questions must be answered when reconstructing the historical moment: When? Where? Whom? “What?” was the final word uttered by Nicholas II. This is the fourth question historians should ask. What? is an analytical approach, but the answer can only provide meaning; hit the crux of the moment when the place and the person are correctly set on the dial.

To write history is to enter a time capsule - armed with hindsight. Twice cried the Tsar “What?”, before crashing to the floor of Ipatiev’s cellar. A thousand times ‘What?’ the historian must ask himself and his sources.

But this moment will not allow itself to be captured. I’ve written seven volumes 3426 pages, about King Haakon VII and his English-born Queen Maud, beginning my historical excavations at the turn of the millennium at the Palace in Oslo. And I'm not done yet. King Haakon's diary extends like a red thread through this double biography, which is a tow-rope dragging the present with it. The towing begins in 1905, and yet I’ve come no further than the banks of the 1940s. This work has led me across Europe: From the royal family archives in Copenhagen and Stockholm, to the Queen's archives in Windsor, the Grand Duchess of Hanover, to the Tsar in Moscow. Besides countless other public archives, private desk drawers and previously unknown treasure-chests. A tireless search for the eternal moment. It all began in 1970, when I read Robert K. Massie's double biography Nicholas & Alexandra. The Russian Tsar and the Norwegian King were cousins. Both spouses were British princesses. First couples in stark contrast with each other. The empire's infernal downfall cast an explanatory light over the still blissful monarchy. Not yet 20 years old, I wrote my first book review: ‘Two people and Russia's fate’. Since then, I’ve ploughed my way through emigrant literature and experienced the historic spring-flood after communism’s fall.

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“Then the electric clock rang - for the wake-up at 2. But the Tsarina wasn’t asleep.” A note found in my own diary on April 8, 1993 (Note: I do not keep a diary - a dangerous word - let's call it notes). The previous night I’d finished reading Edward Radsinski’s Nikolaus II. There was a glimpse of Zeit. The book was a revelation. A Tsar biography written from the inside, not just by Russia, but by the Russian archives. Where Massie had to guess his way behind the iron curtain, Radsinski could spout freely from the source, from diaries, telegrams, letters and testimonies. The note displays the first signs of what would become my own interpretation, seen from the Tsarina's bedside on the final night. Alexandra Feodorovna was the lead-person in this drama, bearing the heaviest burden of guilt ... But then there’s a blank line in my non-diary, before I change focus and correct myself: “Or perhaps better: Dr. Botkin cannot sleep.”

The note displays the first signs of what would become my own interpretation. I had discovered the doctor's as-yet unexplained position, awake in the neighbouring room. It wasn’t the patient, but the doctor who would dissect the story.

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Five years later, on March 1, 1998, I began to write Eugene Sergeyevich Botkin's diary from Yekaterinburg. It was as if I’d found a free space, an unoccupied desk in history’s inner-most room. Or, an open door - where I could enter this historical moment. The 56-year-old doctor left no personal diary, as did the Tsar and Tsarina. He was also, in principle, a free man. The six family members went to their deaths by virtue of their birth; the four servants followed their masters. But the doctor could have chosen a different life, or more correctly, steered away from death. But he remained, voluntarily, with his patients. He had a diagnosis to make. The Emperor reigns by virtue of his body. The court physician and the king murderer are the story’s antithesis; Both hold the body of power in their hands. Dr. Botkin was not only a spokesman for compassion, but the killer’s most extreme opponent. Were I to enter this historic moment, I couldn’t merely face existence with an analytical brain, I’d need a beating heart - an inner movement. Doctor Botkin had to be more than a reflection of the lives of others. Only a three-dimensional man could write a credible diary. A medical practice is based on trust and duty, but the innermost motive is always private. And only love can counterbalance death. It has a time, a place, and a name: Olga. The Tsar’s eldest daughter was my hidden mo-


The Court physician: The engrossing re-telling of a story that has been told in many ways, but never before in the form of a novel. In Tor Bomann-Larsen’s first novel, the starting-point is an historical scenario that never ceases to fascinate us: the last days of the Russian Tsar family.

Were I to enter this historic moment, I couldn’t merely face existence with an analytical brain, I’d need a beating heart - an inner movement

The Court Physician is the story of an internal exile and of the nature of hope. It is also an unforgettable and unfulfilled love story.

tive. But I was only able to meet her at night. (And never touch her.) The days were already documented. Tables and chairs had to stand where they were, the guards at their posts, wall clocks striking the correct time, weather according to the meteorologist’s journals. Naturally, the new diary had to comply with the existing one. Anything other would break from my main ambition; to become the house’s deepest source of truth. With the court physician’s heart beating in my chest, I could close the door behind me and begin on April 17, 1918. From here the dates could roll by, the hours pass, the moment arrive. No longer was I outside peering in through history’s window panes. I was there; behind the brick walls, in the rooms, the hallways, the courtyards; at the scene. I had put myself in history’s straightjacket. Never had I come closer to these events than via these 78 painstakingly-documented days. But the nights were mine. A year later I’d made my diagnosis, answered the Tsar's first and second "what". Before I put down my pen, opened the door and descended the last flight of basement steps. No historian could penetrate deeper into the moment of truth. I had written a novel. TRANSLATED BY: Matt Bagguley

TOR BOMANN-LARSEN (1951) is one of Norway’s leading biographers. He writes with a rare elegance and with great scope and insight. He has published a number of books in different genres. In 2004 he received the prestigious Brage Prize for Non-Fiction for his book The People. He is currently working on his biography about the Norwegian Royal Family.

English title: The Court Physician Norwegian title: Livlegen Author: Tor Bomann-Larsen NARRATIVE NON-FICTION

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«There are risks in finding all the answers.»

BRITT KARIN

LARSEN 78


‘I was beaten a lot. That’s what I remember most from my childhood, for it really was very painful,’ says Britt Karin Larsen She continues: ‘First the birch whip would be fetched from the woods, then it would be soaked in warm water so that it would bend properly, and then followed the beating. As a small child, by then I had usually quite forgotten why it was happening.’ The answer follows a question about whether she identifies with or has been through the same experiences as Anni, the main character in her book You Came from Light. Anni toils through her upbringing in a foster home with all too little love and a lack of safe boundaries. Photo: Fredrik Asbjørnsen – www.hansfredrik.com

‘My mother told me that I mustn’t believe that anybody thought we were worth anything. She felt herself worthless too, my mother, but you couldn’t see that from the outside. She always said that she had to beat me so that I would become a proper, well-behaved person.’

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An illegitimate child Britt Karin Larsen was born to an unmarried mother. That was not easy in a town in Eastern Norway in the 1940s. She grew up with her mother and grandparents. They were Skogfinns, but they never spoke about that, because the Travelling People and the Skogfinns felt looked down upon and discriminated against. Larsen recalls her grandfather, who lived in the same house and whom she loved because he never hit her. ‘My grandfather never laid a hand on anybody, he was so kind. He wasn’t impatient with me. But the one and only time I wanted to give him a hug, he pushed me away. There was no hugging in that house. I never saw him and my granny give each other a hug.

“The one and only time I wanted to give him a hug, he pushed me away. There was no hugging in that house.” The wound that never heals Growing up knowing that you are unwanted must be incredibly painful. Do you ever believe that the wound inside you can heal? ‘It should surely heal at some time. Sometimes I can think “oh, now I’ve put it behind me,” but then it comes sneakily back at the next crossroads, where you feel totally worthless.’ Are you angry with her, or have you accepted or come to terms with the upbringing she gave you? ‘It wasn’t cruelly meant on her side, physical punishment was quite usual at that time. I don’t bear any

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grudge; I reconciled myself properly with my mother when I had children myself. Then I realised that even though you do the best you can, things can still go wrong – but the people who matter most to you are the ones it is the most painful to have a difficult relationship with.’ Abandoned and vulnerable Let’s go back to the novel. You Came from Light. Can you tell us a little more what it’s about? ‘The book is about a main character who grows up feeling quite alone. Then she meets somebody she feels fiercely attracted to, and that can also go badly off course, when a little girl wants to be as close to a grown man as possible.’ The importance of yearning Larsen says that some of the events in this book are things she has experienced herself. ‘For example, sitting by the telephone making call after call after call… in an attempt to find a missing parent you have never had a relationship with, because you need to identify, or perhaps find, some roots.’ In the novel we meet a girl who doesn’t know why she is living with her foster parents. She doesn’t know why her mother doesn’t want her. In adult life she starts looking for answers to these questions, both to understand her own feelings of exclusion and to give her own daughter a startings point. You create problems by longing for answers. Shouldn’t we just let sleeping dogs lie? ‘I want to show that in what is lacking, in what you know nothing about and still have no answers for, there are so many possibilities.’


The Finnskogen Series: Come back in time with us, and meet the cast out bear hunter Taneli and the survivor Lina in a story you will never forget.

She pauses thoughtfully. ‘There are big risks in finding all the answers. If you don’t get all the answers there is still a possibility remaining, so perhaps we shouldn’t deprive ourselves of all the possibilities? Something may be left unanswered, as a possibility. A story about childhood Britt Karen Larsen says that she was already working on You Came from Light before she started her critically acclaimed series about the life and people of Finnskogen. ‘I often write about several things at the same time, even though I perhaps shouldn’t do that so much. But that stuff had been lying there for a long time.’

In the borderlands between Norwegian Hedmark and Swedish Värmland in the 19th century, we meet the ethnic minority of the Wood-Finns. Lina is wandering the woods with a new-born baby in her arms. She meets Taneli, a loner feared by society because of a murder he supposedly has committed. Together they try to build a life. In a ravishing, raw, tender and at times deeply moving way, Britt Karin Larsen tells the tale of the fight to survive and the bonds to nature that Lina, Taneli and the others collect strength and life from. The author gives the Forrest Finnculture a voice, and she does it with tender intensity and great respect.

What do you want to say with the book? ‘I just wanted to share a story. The day I have no more to share, I shall stop writing. But thinking back, perhaps somebody can be reminded of how important childhood and growing up are? It’s important for children to feel that they are worth something; that they feel precious, and that they are not worthless.’

INTERVIEW BY: Tonje Skjærvold TRANSLATED BY: Frank Stewart

BRITT KARIN LARSEN (1945) has written poetry, books for children, documentary books and novels. Her first published work was the 1978 collection of poetry 5 mg blues and other poems. She is reknowned for her Gypsy trilogy, and her historic novels about the life of people in the wooded area of Finnskogen in Norway.

English title: The Finnskogen Cycle Norwegian title: Finnskogen Author: Britt Karin Larsen FICTION

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Photo: Shutterstock.com

INTO THE WOODS Publisher: Cappelen Damm Agency AS 2017 Contact: foreignrights@cappelendamm.no Editor: Anette S. Garpestad Design & layout: Kamilla Ildahl Berg Foto cover: Shutterstock.com Det tas forbehold om endringer i utgivelsesprogram og priser.

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