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.
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.
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.