Don Bartlett

Cover image for Friendship by Lars Saabye Christensen

Friendship by Lars Saabye Christensen (transl. Don Bartlett): ‘Can everything go back to how it was?’

Lars Saabye Christensen’s new novel is the second instalment of his Echoes of the City trilogy. The first, which gives the series its name, opened in 1947 telling the story of post-war Oslo through the Kristoffersen family. Spanning just over a year, Friendship picks up their story in 1956 with Maj still treasurer of the …

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Five Norwegian Novels I’ve Read

If your only acquaintance with Scandinavian novels is a cursory glance at the British bestseller lists, you’d be forgiven for thinking that the entire region turns out nothing but crime fiction. I’m here to tell you that there’s more to Scandi fiction than murder around every corner beginning with five Norwegian novels free of blood …

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Books of the Year 2019: Part Four

We’re on the home stretch, now, heading towards the end of 2019, and already anticipating the shiny and new in 2020. September, which I like to call late summer stretching that in to October weather permitting, began with Etgar Keret’s Fly Already a collection of twenty punchy, inventive short stories, some no longer than a …

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Echoes of the City by Lars Saabye Christensen (transl. Don Bartlett): ‘This is a city so small everyone has the same shadow’

Norway is the one Scandinavian country I’ve yet to visit, slightly put off by reports of ruinous expense and rain, although I’m sure I’ll go at some stage. It’s part of the reason I was attracted to Lars Saabye Christensen’s first instalment of a planned trilogy, Echoes of the City, set in post-war Oslo where …

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I Refuse by Per Petterson (transl. Don Bartlett): Best read when cheerful

You don’t read Per Petterson for his cheeriness but I Refuse seemed even more sombre than usual to me. In it two men, close friends when they were young, meet briefly one morning by coincidence. Expensively dressed, Tommy has just parked his car when he spots Jim, shabby in his old reefer coat. Each recognises …

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