A Sudden Liberating Thought | Buy Now
Translated by Sverre Lyngstad
235 pages RRP £13.51 paperback 2008 Series B
Kjell Askildsen is widely regarded as the finest short-story writer in Norway today. His reputation, based primarily on his Kafkaesque accounts of alienated individuals in a hostile environment, has grown steadily since he made his debut in the 1950s, when his first book had the dubious honour of being publicly burned by his father, who objected to its frank presentation of sexuality. One translation into French invited comparisons with Beckett (whom Askildsen has translated into Norwegian).
This collection of stories brings together works from all stages of Kjell Askildsen's career. It includes an early experimental novella, Surroundings (1969), about the developing tensions between four people cut off on a small island, as well as short stories from various collections, such as Stage Settings (1966) and the highly acclaimed Thomas F's Last Notes for the General Public (1983). The stories relate the struggles of ordinary people with the trivialities and absurdities of everyday life, where loneliness and despair are held at bay by grim determination and flashes of biting black humour. A few words can have a vital significance, and what is not said can be full of meaning.