2002
Lars Saabye Christensen
1962
2012

2002 Lars Saabye Christensen, Norway: Halvbroren

About the author

Photo: Siv-Elin Nærø

Lars Saabye Christensen (1953 - ) - Norway

Lars Saabye Christensen was born in Oslo, is a Danish national, but grew up in Norway and writes in Norwegian. He made his literary debut with the collection of poems Historien om Gly, published in 1976. Lars Saabye Christensen is also a novelist, literary critic, scriptwriter, dramaturgist, translator and songwriter. He has written children’s books, too, and is a member of the Norwegian Academy for Language and Literature.

About the winning piece

Halvbroren (The Half Brother)

Published by: The publishing company Cappelen Damm
Publication year: 2002

The Half Brother is a family drama of pleasure and of sorrow from Lars Saabye Christensen’s Oslo. The book is considered his life’s work, and it took him more than 20 years to write it. The novel begins with a description of three women and three generations: the grandmother, who is an old silent movie star, the mother Boletta and the daughter Vera. The men only lived there for a passing moment – the time it takes to conceive a child and then disappear. On 8 May 1945, when Oslo and the whole world rejoice, Vera meets a man she has never seen before. He rapes her, Vera becomes pregnant and gives birth to her son Fred, who is raised by the novel’s three solitary women. Four years later, Vera becomes pregnant again, now with Arnold the circus performer, and Fred’s half brother is born. The book gives a tender-hearted description of the relationship between the two half brothers and their different paths in life.

This is what the Adjudicating Committee had to say

The richly nuanced novel spans the history of four generations and welds together reality and imaginings. The story of Barnum Nilsen and his brother Fred has a keynote of distance, loss and grief but has a redeeming feature of humour, friendship and black hope.

Excerpt

Mor begynner å bli utålmodig. Fred ler. - Det er ikke granater, sier han. Og jeg river av papiret. Det er en skrivemaskin. Jeg må lukke øynene og åpner dem igjen. Det er fremdeles en skrivemaskin, Diplomat, med bæreveske og tre linjeavstander. Boletta slår stokken i veggen. Mor er mørk og mistenksom i ansiktet, men gleden inni henne er større og hun klapper i hendene, for dette må ikke ødelegges. - Nå mangler du bare noe å skrive på, hvisker hun, nesten beveget. Fred peker mod bordet. Der ligger det allerede en stabel med hvite ark. - Nå mangler han bare noe å skrive, sier han. Jeg reiser meg. Jeg tar Freds hånd. - Neste gang skal du få det fineste jeg har, sier jeg. Fred ser forundret på meg. - Hva er det? spør han. Men det vet jeg ikke ennå. - Tusen takk, sier jeg bare. Fred smiler nå. - Greit det, Barnum. Og han slipper hånden min og går.

(s. 487, J.W. Cappelens Forlag, 2002)

See all nominated in 2002  

Denmark

  • Klaus Høeck - In nomine
  • Ib Michael - Kejserens Atlas

Finland

  • Kari Aronpuro - Pomo:n lumo
  • Ulla-Lena Lundberg - Marsipansoldaten

Iceland

  • Mikael Torfason - Heimsins heimskasti pabbi
  • Gyrðir Eliasson - Gula húsið

Norway

  • Lars Saabye Christensen- Halvbroren (eng. The Half-Brother)
  • Hans Herbjørnsrud - Vi vet så mye

Sweden

  • Eva Runefelt - I djuret
  • Peter Kihlgård - Du har inte rätt att inte älska mig

The Sami Language Area

  • Kirsti Paltto - "Suoláduvvon"

Faroe Islands

  • Tóroddur Poulsen - Blódroyndir

Greenland

  • Ole Korneliussen - Saltstøtten