André loses his parents in a car accident in which he himself is seriously injured. His only relative is Ben, his father’s uncle, nicknamed the Pirate. André moves in with the slightly drunken sailor and together they manage to make a life together. This is despite the fact that the Pirate is struggling to behave for the education system and the authorities. One day, the Pirate falls ill. He’s told he has only a short time left. André and the Pirate decide to take a boat called Nemo to Trinidad to meet the Pirate’s old friend, Boatman.
With sparkling language, full of playful metaphor and humorous jibes at life, Løyning depicts the relationship between André and the Pirate and their adventure across the seas.
The illustrations by Ronny Haugeland are a good fit for the text. They are rough in expression – sketchy and childish in both stroke and perspective. This helps to reflect André’s view of the world as he experiences it from within. Humour and imagination are used as coping mechanisms for adapting to a new existence.
Min venn, Piraten (“My friend, the Pirate”, not translated into English) is a book that pretends to be a proper tall tale but is really about grief, about coping with it while moving forwards. It appears liberatingly unobtrusive in both form and content, and is full of storytelling joy.
Ole Kristian Løyning (born in 1982) works as a teacher and has previously published two children’s books. Min venn, Piraten has received very good reviews and has been nominated for the Norwegian Critics Prize for Literature.