Sunday, 5 November 2017

#WorldReads - Five Books From Norway

If this is your first visit to my WorldReads blog series, the idea of the posts is to encourage and promote the reading of global literature. On the 5th of each month I highlight five books I have read from a particular country and you can see links to previous countries' posts at the end of this post.

Click the book titles or cover images to visit their book review pages (the Asne Seierstad review from noon today). Or click on bookshop names to visit their websites and buy a copy. Bookshop links are affiliate links so I would earn a small commission from your purchase.

This month's country is Norway! The earliest Norwegian literature still in existence are pagan verses and poems from the 9th century. My five choices here are considerably more recent though and include crime fiction, true crime reportage, and a very famous novel of philosophical history to start.


Sophie's World by Jostein Gaarder

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Having finished reading, I now have mixed views on Sophie's World hence the three star rating. On one hand I was fascinated by the potted history of philosophy, most of which I didn't know anything about, and am hoping that at least some of what I read has lodged itself in my brain. The fiction elements of Sophie's World were very disappointing though. I think I understand what Gaarder was trying to achieve with the inclusion of his fictional characters, but I just didn't find their conversations convincing.



The Last Pilgrim by Gard Sveen

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The Last Pilgrim is a dual timeline novel which jumps frequently between 1940s wartime Norway and a 2003 police investigation into bodies believed buried during that war. Initially this made it difficult for me to keep track of who everybody was and I am not sure that the device worked for me in this book. I felt more that the resulting story failed to be either a rich historical novel or atmospheric crime fiction, instead falling somewhere between these two genres, buy its still a good read.



The Model by Lars Saabye Christensen

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Early in The Model, Peter's wife, Helene, bluntly states that 'self-centred middle-aged men must be the most loathsome beings in existence.' She is referring to the playwright Ibsen in the context of his play The Wild Duck, but I was frequently reminded of her comment as I continued reading this book. It is a perfectly apt description of Peter! I think The Model should have been a chilling psychological thriller, but it just didn't have the atmosphere to grip me. However the storyline is an interesting portrayal of a man driven to panic measures by the thought of losing himself to disease.



Nemesis by Jo Nesbo

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I am sure I have never read any Jo Nesbo books before, but this Scandinavian crime novel felt very familiar throughout. It has an alcoholic lead detective emotionally tortured by actions in his past, an inexperienced but brilliant sidekick, and a suitably bizarre serial crime for them to solve.



One of Us: The Story of Anders Breivik and the Massacre in Norway by ├ůsne Seierstad


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On 22 July 2011 Anders Behring Breivik killed 77 of his fellow Norwegians in a terrorist atrocity that shocked the world. One of Us is the incredibly well researched account of the massacres and the subsequent trial. Seierstad sat through Breivik's trial and read all those documents. She also read his own manifesto and other writings, studied police reports, and conducted extensive interviews with his surviving victims, their families, and people who had known Breivik in his youth. The resulting book is a clever blend of biography and journalism written in a style that is more usually associated with fiction. However everything here is saddeningly and shockingly true.


That's it for November's WorldReads from Norway. I hope I have tempted you to try reading a book from this country and if you want more suggestions, click through to see all my Literary Flits reviews of Norwegian-authored books! Please do Comment your own favourite Norwegian books below and if you fancy buying any of the five I have suggested, clicking through the links from this blog to do so would mean I earn a small commission payment.

If you missed any earlier WorldReads posts, I have already 'visited' America, Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Greece, India, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Japan, New Zealand, Nigeria, Russia, South Africa, Spain, Sweden and Turkey.
In December I will be highlighting five books by Scottish authors. See you on the 5th to find out which ones!

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