Kjartan Fløgstad was born in the industrial town of Sauda in south-western Norway. Following his university studies in Bergen, he worked for a time as an industrial worker and sailor, before he made his debut with Valfart, a collection of poems in 1968. Writing in Norwegian Nynorsk, Kjartan Fløgstad has since published work in a host of genres and been highly active as a debater and essayist of culture. He has been attracted to Latin-American poetry, made translations and also been influenced by their magic realism with the sudden shifts between daily life and magical elements.
Dalen Portland describes what happens in the industrial town of Sauda on the brink of World War II where the world cries out for steel for the arms industry. In Sauda, stainless steel is produced from manganese in high gear – a blessing for Selmer Høysand who leaves the family farm. Slowly, but surely he forgets the traditions of his rural life to become an appreciated worker at the factory. Arnold, Selmer’s son, follows in his father’s footsteps. He has never experienced the traditions of rural life and adapts to a modern working life without problems. In the novel, he represents the slavery of machines and cultural poverty of the industrial society.
Using innovative language it depicts people who are affected by the contradictions between an indigenous farming environment and a modern industrial society. The novel is characterised by both realistic narrative art and romantic fantasy.