Silje Bekeng on the Modern Norwegian Novel

Norwegians are said to be born with skis on their feet—ready from birth for a life in harmony with the inhospitable Nordic nature.

Maybe my mother was lacking some important vitamin during the pregnancy. No skis accompanied me into this world. Instead of seeking the woods and mountains like a true Norwegian—“There is no bad weather, only poor clothing!” as we say—I came to prefer asphalt under my feet, the safety of skyscrapers, and the soft breeze from passing subway cars, deep underground. I am allergic to trees.

But I didn’t miss out on the other thing Norwegians are born with: citizenship in the world’s most generous and equitable welfare state.

This is about what happens when rich, well-traveled, and well-educated children from a tiny Viking country covered in forest grow up and try to write fiction.

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