Image: Per Kristian Nygård, "Not Red But Green," at NoPlace Gallery, Oslo, Norway 2014. Photo by Jason Olav Benjamin Havneraas. Courtesy of the artist.
Norway is the richest country in Europe, but not everyone shares in the wealth. This month we present writing from Norway that probes the complexities, frustrations, and messiness underneath the country’s pristine image. From furious mothers to tender husbands, in class conflict and sibling tensions, the characters here reveal plans derailed and dreams unrealized. Monica Isakstuen channels a wife and mother’s uncontainable rage, while musician and singer-songwriter Levi Henriksen follows the poignant twilight of a bus driver’s marriage. Linn Strømsborg’s new graduate finds herself reliving her adolescence, and Roskva Koritzinsky’s alienated dancer sleepwalks through a school year haunted by a serial killer’s trial. Mona Hǿvring shows sisters negotiating their relationship after a break and a breakdown; Jan Kristoffer Dale joins a weekend poker trip that literally goes off track; and Andreas Tjernshaugen exposes the terrible costs of the Norwegian whaling industry. US poet Rebecca Dinerstein Knight, who spent two years in Norway, reflects on speaking love while speaking Norwegian. And guest editor Kari Dickson sets the pieces in social and cultural context in her introduction. The translations have been published with the financial support of NORLA. Our feature presents the winners of our poetry contest, held in conjunction with the Academy of American Poets. Tune in every Saturday this month, as we publish new work by the winning poets, copublished in Poets.org’s Poem-a-Day series.
Writing Dreams: New Norwegian Literature
Norway is a dream that many people carry.
What if my rage has filled my core and transformed it?
The Whale That Blinked
In the Antarctic in particular, the blue whale nearly died out.
I soon learned that Norwegians deliver praise in the past tense.
From the Other Side
What happened next, I will never quite understand.
In a Ditch
Kenneth felt his seat belt clamp across his chest and his stomach somersaulting as the car careened off the road.
All the Way Home
Her face is like a page in a diary that has never been written.
I always measured distances in songs. I measured everything in songs.
I Condemn My Pathetic Heart and Soul
For weeks she had behaved as though she were the only person to have ever had a nervous breakdown.
Reviewed by Arka Chattopadhyay
Conversations with the dead bring up explosive memories of Communist insurgency in this cult classic of Indian literature.