Cover of "Lemmings"

Lemen – fjellets hjerte
Published by Mangschou Forlag, 2020

The lemming is a small hamster, with a thick sausage-like body, with short legs, and tiny ears. It is easy to recognize as they have a very characteristic appearance, with yellowy-orange fur speckled with black spots on their heads and along their backs. During the “lemming years” the furious lemmings are everywhere in the mountains. There are millions. But suddenly they are all gone, and many years can pass before you see a lemming again. Why?


Åsmund H. Eikenes/Eivind Gulliksen: KNOCK KNOCK!

Cover of "Knock Knock!"

Published by Samlaget, 2019

Discover the amazing animal hands!
All of us humans have hands with five long fingers, but the hands in the animal kingdom look a little different. We call them paws, claws, fins, hooves or wings. Yet when we look at how human and animal hands have been put together, we can see that they are actually rather similar. Hands are vital tools for both humans and animals.


Sunniva Relling Berg: POLAR NIGHT

Cover of "Polar NIght"

Published by Samlaget, 2019

An ice-cold escape in the dark
Ilias is 16 years old and lives in a centre for asylum seekers with his nine-year-old sister, Amira. They have fled their homeland and now find themselves in a refugee centre in North Norway. One day, something happens that makes it dangerous for them to stay. The siblings must escape into the dark night. They don’t know the area, nor anyone who lives there. The wind is freezing cold, and they’re running out of time. Before long they can hear the snowmobile that’s out hunting for Ilias. Who can help them get through this frozen winter night? This book tells an exhilarating story, with a driving plot and tense undertones that grow steadily throughout.


Sigrid Agnete Hansen: SEEN THIS?

Cover "Seen This?"

Ser du dette?
Published by Samlaget 2020

A powerful debut about a nude photo in the wrong hands
Anna has just moved to a new home with her parents. Back to the village where her dad grew up, where Anna’s grandma still lives. But rumours travel faster than a car can drive. A rumour doesn’t care about kilometres, speed limits or travel itineraries. A rumour just wants to get where it’s going. And once it arrives, it will try to reach out to as many people as it possibly can…


Laura Djupvik/Camilla Kuhn: THE GIRL IN THE CHEST

Cover of "The Girl in the Chest"

Jenta i kista
Published by Samlaget, 2019

An exciting thriller for children who can read by themselves
In a huge, ancient house, there is a chest.
Nobody knows what’s inside.
A 100 years ago a happy family used to live in the house.
But now, nobody wants to.
All the rooms are empty.
Except the attic, where there is a chest.
But then, one day, the box is opened.


Marianne G. Engedal: THE SAUSAGE BURGLAR

Cover of Marianne Engedal: The Sausage Burglar

Published by Samlaget, 2019

Exciting about an unwilling burglar
Bill is a nine-year-old boy, born into a family of burglars. But Bill doesn’t want to be a burglar. One day he has to steal from his own friend, Sausage Sam. “But I don’t want to steal from Sausage Sam,” yells Bill, “He’s my friend!” What does he get in response? “A real burglar has to be able to steal from anyone at all!”


Reviews of “In the Age of Bombers” by Bjørn Berge

Cover of "In the Age of Bombers"

“A grimly beautiful history of bombers

Bjørn Berge has written a unique book about humanity’s limitless destructive drive.

In the Age of Bombers is a shocking book about humanity’s limitless destructive drive. It follows the development of bombers from the infancy of flight to the advent of the massive monsters that have crushed countless dreams and reduced entire worlds to rubble in our own times. Although a depressing topic, it is handled with a singular irony that presents the material in a kind of absurd yet poetic theatre of cruelty.

B-52 airfield
Author Bjørn Berge is an architect by training and lives in Lista, on the western coast of Norway. His roots are in the flat region towards the North Sea, where his father was commander-in-chief of the anti-aircraft artillery at an airfield for American B-52 bombers.

Berge’s personal fascination with the huge, roaring, mighty aircraft and the stories behind their construction is filtered through the lens of a mature man’s aversion for and melancholy resignation over the destruction and suffering these aircraft have caused.
This lends the text a particular musicality, in which neither naïve enthusiasm nor moral indignation overshadow the details of the material, nor the principal conclusion: that as a tactic of warfare, bombing has almost always been a failure.

Time and again over the century-long history of air warfare, military strategists have won support for the notion that the best way to win wars was to carpet-bomb civilian targets.
The idea was that this kind of bombing would crush the morale of the enemy population, causing them to turn on their leaders and lose the will to fight.

But almost exactly the opposite has almost always happened – a feeble consolation for the victims. People naturally directed their rage at those doing the bombing.

Bombing raids
In 2016, Bjørn Berge published a thoroughly idiosyncratic book about parts of the world we don’t usually think about, at least not in any systematic way. Nowherelands was structured around a collection of stamps from countries that existed only for a short period. This peculiar editing principle enabled the author to work in copious information about history, politics, colonialism – and our general, human struggle.

This year’s book adopts an equivalent editing principle. After providing a stylish presentation of each bomber, complete with elegant diagrams, dates, numbers, crew, top speed, range and bomb load, he spices things up with plentiful information.

He writes about legendary bomb raids, about formations and dogfights, about iron plates on seats to prevent the crew from being shot to pieces from below, about narrow crawl spaces and the lack of onboard toilets.

The bomber crews worked gruelling shifts and many lost their lives: “The expected survival time for British bomber crews in 1944 was six weeks. The rear gunners came out worst of all, dying after an average of four missions – roughly calculated as one or two weeks, give or take – depending on the weather.”

The Wetsuit Mystery
The book is dedicated to “Shadi Omar Kataf, post mortem”. Right at the end of the book, we learn that this is ‘the man in the wetsuit’ – whose mysterious remains were found washed ashore at Lista in January 2015, a story that became an award-winning article in Dagbladet.

The ‘older architect’ who found him was, in fact, Bjørn Berge, and when in the last chapter he tells us Kataf’s story and how it affected him – the way all victims of war and persecution should affect us – the book takes a melancholic turn that raises it to the level of genuine poetry.[…]

The book is beautiful, grim, thought provoking and good, and undoubtedly deserves a life outside Norway too.”

Jon Rognlien, Dagbladet

* * *

“Fantastic writing about men, bombers and history. Add to that an author with a pen of gold, and you have this year’s biggest reading treat.”

Ole Jacob Hoel, Adresseavisen

* * *

An elegant history of warplanes from 1914 to the present day, with a chapter dedicated to each aircraft. Berge’s book doesn’t simply deliver facts about the individual bombers – it is, above all, a cracking good read. A treat both for aircraft aficionados and literary connoisseurs.

Siss Vik, NRK 1



Cover of "In the Age of the Bombers"

Luftens tyranner. Menn og bombefly gjennom 100 år
Published by Spartacus Forlag, 2019

Deadly planes as big as football pitches with bomb loads of up to 50 tonnes have thundered over cities and countries since 1914. The scenario is both historical and contemporary.
The arrival of bomber technology, with its ability to penetrate front lines and spread destruction among civilian populations, changed the nature of warfare forever. Its supporters claimed mass bombing would yield rapid victories by demoralising enemy populations. The idea persists: if only bombers become powerful, fast and precise enough, wars will be won swiftly and bloodlessly.


Jan Roar Leikvoll awarded the Stig Sæterbakken Memorial Prize for 2013

4 September 2013

Jan Roar Leikvoll, Photo: Mimsy Møller
Jan Roar Leikvoll (1974 – 2014) Photo: Mimsy Møller

The prize jury had the following words to say about this year’s winner:

Jan Roar Leikvoll has an uncompromising choice of themes, an insistent and soulfully poetic use of language and, not least, has chosen to write three books that are so consistent in their structure, language and content. His authorship so far represents one of the most accomplished and unique projects in contemporary Norwegian literature.

‘His work consists of the three novels A Winter Story (Eit vintereventyr, 2008), The Violins (Fiolinane, 2010) and Bovara (2012). These books can be said to form a trilogy, all following a vulnerable first-person narrator’s quest, survival instinct and misdeeds in environments that put humanity to the test, or that even set humanity aside. His novels reach out to the extreme boundaries of readers’ imagination, and they all cover themes that are disgusting and captivating, both in a fascinating way. His books explore the inconceivable but genuine evil that humans are able to perform. But even with physical decay, razed surroundings and total isolation, hope still shines out. Leikvoll manages to portray this with dependable credibility. Readers are cornered with the question of whether we feel the protagonists deserve to have hope. The trilogy emerges, therefore, as an essentially humanistic project.

‘The three fables are set in closed worlds where the plots develop limitlessly in all their horror. A Winter Story takes place in an undefined, enclosed camp from which neither the guards nor those they are guarding can escape. The Violins is set in a post-apocalyptic rubbish tip where it really is possible just to leave and to “become one of those who disappeared”. But, in a scorching hot desert where disaster is universal, that means running away from a utopia. Bovara is set in a monastery where the monks abuse unwilling newcomers, a bestial and sinful Garden of Eden in which the protagonist Frrok eventually leaves the monastery garden dressed in a murdered girl’s hair, dress and green shoes, like a monstrous symbiosis of Adam and Eve.

‘Leikvoll tests the limits of readers’ empathy, aversion and spontaneous moral reactions when the victims themselves begin to carry out the very acts to which have been subjected as victims. [… T]he three novels are narrated with a beautifully poetic and lyrical language, making the repellent subject matter into something aesthetically alluring. It is a balancing act with many potential pitfalls, such as a banal use of clichés or exploitative glamorisation of people’s wicked thoughts or deeds. A fable, liberated from concrete times or places, is capable of carrying out this balancing act successfully, referring to societies, settings or private spheres without turning into a cheap or reductive allegory. But succeeding in this takes rare talent and work honing the text, both of which shine through in these novels.

‘Jan Roar Leikvoll has an uncompromising choice of themes, an insistent and soulfully poetic use of language and, not least, has chosen to write three books that are so consistent in their structure, language and content. His authorship so far represents one of the most accomplished and unique projects in contemporary Norwegian literature. We look forward to this year’s coming publication The Songbird (Songfuglen), and to the rest of Jan Roar Leikvoll’s future work, with great anticipation.’

About the prize winner:

Jan Roar Leikvoll (1974 – 2014) made his debut with the novel A Winter Story (Eit vintereventyr) in 2008. With The Violins (Fiolinane, 2010) and Bovara (2012), he confirmed that he is one of the strongest and most original voices in contemporary Norwegian literature. Leikvoll’s books are characterised by a brutal and raw yet, at the same time, beautiful and sensitive language, portraying the extremes of human experience with merciless realism. Leikvoll is an original storyteller who dares to follow paths that are entirely his own, for which he has won the universal praise of critics and readers. In the autumn of 2010, Leikvoll was awarded the Sigmund Skard Scholarship for the start of an original and important career in writing. Among other points in their citation, the jury stated that ‘Leikvoll has fused together pain and beauty in a credible and effective way, and we cannot help being affected by the questions his books pose. The jury looks forward to Jan Roar Leikvoll’s continued creation of exciting and original new literary universes.’