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Books Titles

Hidden Falls by Carla Danziger
som frykter ulven (He Who Fears the Wolf) By Karin Fossum
Se deg ikke tilbake (Don’t Look Back) by Karin Fossum
Edvard Munch by Alf Bøe
Markens Grode (Growth of the Soil) by Knut Hamsun
Kransen (The Wreath) by Undset, Sigrid
I De Dage (Giants in the Earth) by O.E. Rolvaag. H. Aschehoug and Company of Oslo

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Book Reviews

Hidden Falls
Danziger, Carla
iUniverse
2004
Available from amazon.com and the website www.carladanziger.com 

hidden fallsAlthough this novel is written in English, it is set in Norway (specifically, in Bergen and in the Sognefjord region) and most of the characters are Norwegian.

The protagonist is Kris Kelley, an American woman of Norwegian descent, who travels to Bergen to spend time with her Norwegian cousin Elsa Jenssen, a very well-known journalist and TV personality. Soon after Kris’s arrival, Elsa is killed and Kris is determined to find the person responsible before she returns to the US. The characters are well developed and the plot follows many unexpected twists and turns. In addition to enjoying an exciting mystery, the reader will learn much about Norway and its culture along the way. 
- Recommended by Christine Foster Meloni, Culture Club Editor

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Den som frykter ulven (He Who Fears the Wolf)
Karin Fossum
Harvill Secker
1997 Harcourt 2003 (English translation)

Fears the WolfAn elderly woman is found brutally murdered at her isolated house in the woods. The prime suspect is Errki, a loner who has just escaped from a mental asylum. Kannick, a 12-year-old boy, reports that he saw Errki in the vicinity soon after the murder. But is Kannick a credible witness? He lives in a home for delinquent boys. After his escape, Errki goes into town and enters a bank where a robbery is in progress. The robber is a demented young man named Morgan who takes Errki hostage as he leaves the bank. The two end up in a vacant house in the woods not far from the murder scene. The situation is very tense as they warily try to understand each other and attempt to form an uneasy alliance in order to elude detection. Meanwhile, the serious and compassionate Inspector Sejer pursues the case, trying to locate Errki and the bank robber, at first not realizing that they are together. A comment on the book jacket sums up the essence of this fascinating book: “Fossum once again provides extraordinary insight into marginalized lives and richly evokes the atmosphere she captured so brilliantly in Don’t Look Back.”
- Recommended by Christine Foster Meloni, Culture Club Editor

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Se deg ikke tilbake (Don’t Look Back)

Fossum, Karin

available from amazon.com

1999

The mystery novels of Karin Fossum, Norway’s Queen of Crime, are finally being translated into English for readers unfamiliar with the Norwegian language. Don’t Look Back is her first novel translated into English. If you know Norwegian, we recommend that you read her books in the original, of course.

The main character is Inspector Sejer, a man who is very smart and compassionate as well. He has a difficult case to solve. The body of a beautiful 15-year-old girl is found naked on the shore of a lake at the foot of the Kollen Mountain in Norway. Many of the villagers are immediately put on the list of suspects: the girl’s boy friend, her running coach, a mentally-disabled neighbor, the father of a child she babysat, and her mother’s ex-husband. Sejer patiently investigates the situation and keeps the rapt attention of the reader in the process. In the end the murderer is unmasked.

- Recommended by Christine Foster Meloni, Culture Club Editor

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Edvard Munch

Bøe, Alf

John Wiley and Sons Ltd

available from amazon.com

 1993

  MunchSelf-Portrait (from Wikipedia)

            I am an enthusiastic admirer of the Norwegian painter Edvard Munch. I am fascinated by his well-known Scream but I like many of his other works as well. This book by Alf Bøe is probably the best biography of Munch that I have read.

Bøe is the current director of the Munch Museum in Oslo. I visited this museum a few years ago and was happy as a clam walking from room to room where only paintings by Munch were on display. It was a very special experience.

            Bøe traces Munch’s life and art and emphasizes the very clear autobiographical nature of the artist’s work. The book is divided into two parts. The first part is the very interesting and informative text while the second consists of XX illustrations. I highly recommend this book to both those familiar and unfamiliar with Munch; it is an excellent overview of the man and the artist.

- Recommended by Christine Foster Meloni, Culture Club Editor

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Markens Grode (Growth of the Soil)
Knut Hamsun
1917

As the novel begins, we see Sivert striking out on his own, far from any residential area, to establish a farm in the mountains. "The man comes, walking toward the north. He bears a sack, the first sack, carrying food and some few implements." We watch as he succeeds beyond anyone’s expectations. He becomes "A tiller of the ground, body and soul; a worker on the land without respite. A ghost risen out of the past to point the future, a man from the earliest days of cultivation, a settler in the wilds, nine hundred years old, and, withal, a man of the day."

In the end, one of his acquaintances speaks to him from the heart, saying, "There you are, living in touch with heaven and earth, one of them, one with all these wide, deep-rooted things. No need of a sword in your hands, you go through life bareheaded, barehanded, in the midst of a great kindliness. Look, Nature’s there, for you and yours to have and enjoy." It is a beautiful book that not only gives insights into the mind of the Nordic farmer but also into the mind of anyone who wishes to lead a wholesome life that causes no harm to man or beast.
- Recommended by Christine Foster Meloni, Culture Club Editor

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Kransen (The Wreath)
Undset, Sigrid 1920
H. Aschehoug & Company, Oslo

Kransen is the first volume in the Kristin Lavransdatter trilogy by Sigrid Undset, winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1928. In these historical novels the reader learns about life in 14th century Norway in magnificent detail through the life of Kristin Lavransdatter, the main character. In Kransen Kristin falls in love with the knight Erlend Nikulausson but their passionate romance creates many complications that involve their families, friends, enemies, and the Church.
This novel was made into a film directed by Liv Ullman, and you can read a review of it in this month’s Screening Room. An English translation by award-winning translator Tiina Nunnally is available through Penguin Books (http://www.penguinclassics.com).
- Recommended by Christine Foster Meloni, Culture Club Editor

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I De Dage (Giants in the Earth) (1924)
By Aschehoug, O.E. Rolvaag. H. and Company of Oslo
Rolvaag was born in Norway in 1876, and at the age of 20 he emigrated to the United States. He went to live on an uncle’s farm in South Dakota in an area settled principally by Norwegian immigrants. Life on the prairie was a continual struggle for these people, particularly because of the harsh climate. Rolvaag persevered and was eventually able to leave the farm and pursue higher education. He became a teacher of Norwegian language and literature and of the history of Norwegian immigration. He wrote several novels, always in Norwegian, and Giants in the Earth is considered his masterpiece. Giants in the Earth provides a vivid description of what life was like for the hardy Norwegians who came to the Midwest in the late 19th century. The novel focuses on a small group of families that worked together to create a viable community on the prairie. Readers learn a lot about U.S. frontier history but also a great deal about the traditions the Norwegians brought with them, some of which they adapted and others they abandoned. These people had successes but also many heart-breaking failures as they gradually established a foothold in an alien and often unfriendly land.

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