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.’

Reviews for “The Goalie and the Sea”

Cover of "The Goalie and the Sea"

“A Resounding reunion with the friends from Waffle Hearts

Strong feelings, great drama and a real way with words
This book is one that I feel like reading aloud, chapter by chapter, to everybody around me. It has an exciting plot, drama between the characters, and humour in almost every line.

After her two previous books – Waffle Hearts (Vaffelhjarte) in 2005 and Astrid the Unstoppable (Tonje Glimmerdal) in 2009 – Maria Parr (36) from Sunnmøre, on the west coast of Norway, was proclaimed the shining new talent in Norwegian children’s literature. Then nothing was heard for a while, and it is easy to imagine that ideas were tried and rejected amidst a fear of failure. So it is a real pleasure to report that Parr is back and is surpassing herself, offering us more of what we have grown to love, while at the same time expanding the world of the children she writes about.

Surpassing herself
We are back in the small hamlet of Mathildewick Cove, a ferry journey away from a town that could be Ålesund.

Trille and Lena were nine years old in Waffle Hearts. Now they are twelve, Trille is still the first-person narrator, and we follow them through a year at school. Their world is larger, and the events that happen are more serious.

In one plot thread, we find out more about when Trille’s grandfather was a young man, and how he fell in love with Trille’s grandmother; in another, we see Lena’s new football coach giving her so few opportunities on the pitch that she decides to move to a team in town instead.

Friendship triangle
The new girl in the class, Brigitte from the Netherlands, also causes some commotion. Trille would like to be with her, but he is also ashamed of neglecting Lena and his grandfather. And he is really astonished that Brigitte can see any good in the class bully, Kai-Tommy.

Along the way, there is time for broken arms, fishing trips, secrets, airgun accidents, a school concert, and an Astrid Lindgren reference when Trille’s little sister is hoisted up the flagpole.

Birth, love, and the sea
If there is anything to pick holes in from this book, it might be the penchant for melodrama. The main characters are in mortal danger on the waves two or three times, and Trille’s baby sister is born during a heavy winter storm. Still, this is also probably the book’s greatest strength. The drama is well integrated and realistic, and the reader can feel the grave seriousness of the situations.

Lena emerges as an even more ambiguous character. At her worst, she is self-centered, short-tempered, and sulky. At her best, she has a heart of gold (XL size). It is easy to see how the calmer Trille can feel frustrated and confused.

Best in practically all aspects
The Goalie and the Sea fulfils most criteria of literary criticism. The language is rich and varied. The composition, ensemble of characters, and dramatic structure work well. Parr dares to take all the corners at full speed with even more sincerity, more drama and, not least, even more fantastic new words and expressions. […]

I enjoyed most of all how Parr lets her characters and readers think, learn, and grow as a result of everything they go through. We see honest children struggling with big questions, and coming out of it all with greater self-awareness and greater respect for other people.

This book is full of wisdom, beauty and emotion, and it is quite likely that Maria Parr will see in the new year with several more literary prizes on her mantelpiece.”

(Reviewed by Morten Olsen Haugen, Aftenposten 13 August 2017)

“The sequel to Waffle Hearts: binge-reading!
The sequel to Waffle Hearts does not disappoint. Maria Parr’s writing is lively and humorous, creating a safe universe it feels good to inhabit. […] Your heart also beats more calmly and happily when you read Maria Parr’s books. …This novel uses language inventively and is filled with funny alliterations and playful comparisons. … Lena Lid and Trille deserve many readers and many books. Through her writing, Maria Parr conjures up wild and beautiful western Norwegian scenery and appealing characters we would like to follow in book after book. “

(Reviewed by Kristine Isaksen, VG)

“Speed and self-confidence
Maria Parr has proven again that she is in a class of her own as a children’s author. This charm bomb of a story will bring out laughter and tears in children and adults alike. … It is an exciting story, and the first time you read it, you will at times find yourself on the edge of your seat, hoping that everything will turn out well. Maria Parr is not afraid of writing about difficult topics, such as death: can it happen at any time? This grown-up reviewer shed several tears while reading – tears of sympathy and recognition – which were soon replaced by smiles and laughter.    …   Maybe it is here, more than anywhere, that Maria Parr’s magic lies: not in her use of language, even though that is terrifically good, or in the story, which is also unbearably exciting, but in all the layers she works into it, in the way she surveys the depths of what makes up life. Fun, excitement and humour, but also serious matters, insecurities and sorrow. Life and death. Maria Parr writes about children, but her books are really about all of us.

The Goalie and the Sea is a brilliant book for children, and is perfect for grown-ups too.”

(Reviewed by Gerd Elin Stava in Dagsavisen, 16 August 2017)



Selvforsvar mot kreft

Published by Spartacus, 2019

In the summer of 2016 family doctor Øyvind Torp is in his office studying his own MR-scans. In the waiting room there are patients waiting for him to call out their name, but he is unable to gather his thoughts. The MR-scans reveal tumours. In the blink of an eye, the doctor has become the patient. The survival instinct awakens; can anything be done to improve the prognosis, when bad luck strikes?

After surgery, examinations, pain and morphine, the body slowly kicks into gear, and the will to fight back increases for each passing day. Scientific research helps him to discover various steps that might improve his prognosis, in addition to the medical treatment he is already receiving. A year on after the last surgery he crosses the starting line at the Berlin Marathon. Each step on the track brings joy and relief.

Translation rights sold to: Denmark. English version available.

In this book dr. Øyvind Torp (b. 1977) gives practical advice and tips for cancer patients and others who seek to prevent cancer or those who simply want to stay healthy. Torp graduated as a medical doctor from the University of Oslo in 2006 and has been practising as a family doctor for over10 years. The book is written in co-operation with the non-fiction author Geir Stian Ulstein (b. 1982).

Lars Mæhle/Lars Rudebjer: THE DINOSAUR BUNCH : THE EGG

Get to know all about dinosaurs big and small in THE DINOSAUR BUNCH. Rasmus Rex is a slightly anxious six year-old who lives together with his family in the big boggy forest. Rasmus is always being reluctantly dragged along on adventures by his best friend, Trym Troodon. Trym is six years old too, but nothing frightens him. And then there’s Grandma Rex. She isn’t nearly as sweet and elderly as she looks. Sometimes she can be downright deadly!


Early one morning, Rasmus Rex rudely awoken by his friend, Trym Troodon. Trym has big news: His mum’s egg is about to hatch! Rasmus and Trym decide to take a shortcut through the boggy forest to get there in time. But is this very wise? On the way they meet some fairly fear dinosaurs. And when they come out the other side, a surprise is waiting for them…


Rasmus Rex is visiting the beach with his family and his best friend, Trym. Rasmus isn’t such a good swimmer, so when his big brother Robin challenges Rasmus and Trym to a swimming competition, it can’t possibly go well. All these rumors about a sea monster in the water don’t help either. It turns out to be an exciting competition, with plenty of Dino-surprises the whole way through.

In THE DINOSAUR BUNCH, Lars Mæhle and Lars Rudebjer have created a whacky dinosaur universe for little ones, jam-packed with fun and funniness. This is the first book in a colourful series that follows the big and small happenings in the lives of Rasmus Rex and his friends. The books are perfect for reading aloud and are suitable for young children who have just started to read on their own. At the back of each book there are lots of facts about all the dinosaurs featured in the story.                                                                                              

 English translations are available. 48 pages. Format 20 x 25 cm. Book 3, THE JOURNEY  BEYOND THE MAP will be published autumn 2019 and book 4, THE TREASURE HUNT in spring 2020.

Translation rights sold to: Estonia, Finland and Iceland.

Lars Mæhle (b. 1971) has written a number of books for children and young

adults and fiction, among them the children’s novel Tunisia’s Keeper (Keeperen til

Tunisia), 2004. In 2011 the film “The Liverpool Goalie”- based on Mæhle’s novel

received the Crystal Bear in Berlin 2011. Rights sold to Germany. In 2009 he

wrote the awarded fantasy novel The Country beneath the Ice / Landet under

isen. Most recently he wrote the YA novel Andromeda (2018) and a crime series

for small children.  * Lars Rudebjer (b. 1958) has illustrated more than 40 children’s

books published in ten countries, and a large number of school books for Swedish

and Norwegian publishers. Rudebjer is also known for his illustrations in the Ella

series, written by Unni Lindell. His production also includes postcards, comic

strips, board games and CD games for children, and a collection of pictures for

IKEA. He use traditional aquarelle as well as digital techniques.

Kristin Oudmayer: Bullying. Everything you want to know but don’t dare to ask





KristinOudmayer                                                                                                                    Bullying. Everything you want to know but don’t dare to ask                                         Mobbebok for ungdom. Alt du lurer på, men ikke spør om

Published by Humanist Forlag, 2017

Adults talk less with children about bullying the older they get. And the older the children become, the more embarrassing it gets to tell them about your own experiences of bullying and ask them about theirs. This book provides answers to questions young people do not always dare to ask: Isn’t it better not to be a friend, than to be a false friend? Is it okay to prioritize yourself and the ones you have most in common with, or are you then contributing to freeze out someone? How can you help a friend who is being bullied? Is it my fault that I am being bullied? Once a bully, always a bully?

The book contains stories and questions from children and young people, and gives a brief introduction to their rights and what they can expect from the adults around them.

In 2010, Kristin Oudmayer (b. 1973) published the book Because I deserve it? A book about bullying, hope and responsibility. The book was a collection of stories she received following a frustrated message she posted in social media. After the publication, Oudmayer was offered a position in UNICEF Norway to lead their Norwegian program. In 2014, she published the book You are more important than you think – A book about the prevention of and dealing  with bullying, which was well-received both by the general public and professional circles. Oudmayer is frequently invited as guest lecturer.






“A fascinating philatelic journey”
“Nowherelands is a real treat, and not only for the stamp collectors among us, for the rest of us as well. The idea is so good as to make one green with envy: writing a book about countries that no longer exist. And there are many of them! … The chapter titles are a joy in themselves: “Princesses in burkas”, “Bottle flies and a thirst for oil”, “Sea cucumbers for stone money”. But nothing surpasses the place names: Inini! Ryukyu! Iquique! … Four pages are dedicated to each country and shocking world history is reeled off. Poetic descriptions and peculiar details, spiced with well-chosen quotations from both fiction and travel writers … “Nowherelands” is an exceptionally beautiful book, printed on exquisite paper. Each country comes with a map, a stamp, tips for further reading and occasionally recipes, music and film suggestions.”