Bookcase Project – Book 12: Voices from the North: New Writing from Norway Edited by Vigdis Ofte and Steinar Sivertsen

Book 12: Voices from the North: New Writing from Norway Edited by Vigdis Ofte and Steinar Sivertsen, Maia, 2008

Staying with the Northern theme, this book is complied of work by Norwegian writers who all have a connection with the Stavanger. (The book is an anthology celebrating Stavanger winning Capital of Culture 2008). I was really thrilled with the variety of this collection. They get the balance of poetry and prose just right. The subject matter varies massively, which is always a great thing. In a story by Johan Harstad there is a man who is making a list of things to do whilst waiting to hear if his father has died ‘I sit at the kitchen table and make a list of all the things that need doing in the near future, the coming days. I see the list gradually expand, of its own accord, extending, turning into a plan for the entire year, for years to come, every single day, eternity, till the day I die. There’ll always be something that needs doing. There’s no time to lose. And the house needs decorating. The story has a striking ending, one which almost reaches out of the pages and punches you in the stomach, waking you up. I still haven’t taken the advice the story threw at me. Well, not really. But I am trying. Maybe not hard enough.

There is an extract of a 36 page poem, written by Oyvind Rimbereid, which presents a new language to reveal the future consequences of our failure to change the current Western lifestyle. The speaker lives on the West Coast of Norway in the year 2480. The original language of the poem is a hybrid of West Norwegian dialect, earlier forms of Norwegian and elements of most of the languages to be found round the North Sea today. Here is part of the long first part.

WOT wud i turned owt lyk

if u kuddev kept fra

yor wereld te ours?

SHAYMFEL, i ges wen

u kum wiv yor imagos

ev our taim, tekno, airlyf

all yor epokaliptikl nich-mares.

I haven’t read a lot of work by Norwegian writers, (I tried Sophie’s World by Jostein Gaarder but was extremely disappointed and bored) so this book was a great introduction to a variety of Norway’s finest.