Lene Berg was nine years old when her father, the writer and film director Arnljot Berg, was arrested in Paris accused of the murder of his third wife, Evelyne Zammit. This dramatic childhood memory is the starting point for From Father.
In From Father, Lene Berg examines her father’s life and fate by mixing her own memories and imagination with factual elements such as letters, psychiatric reports, unpublished and published texts, court documents, etc. From Father thus turns into an encounter between two artists – one living, one dead – between a father and daughter, a woman and man, and between present-day Norway and the nation in which Arnljot Berg lived and worked. The result is an astonishing and moving portrait of a sensitive and talented person, and at the same time an unusual portrayal of a family.
Clever novel about the act of remembrance.
Let me state right away that Lene Berg’s prose is wonderful. In addition to glimmering prose and clever composition, Fra far has everything one might wish for in a modern bohemian novel, in a novel of the arts, a crime novel with a twist of the humanities, one with all of Europe set as its stage.
Lene Berg’s polyphonic text show us how “truth” is relative, and dependent upon point of view. The fact that the novel includes an unpublished and, by all accounts, autobiographical manuscript left behind by Arnljot Berg, allows father and daughter to meet in yet another medium in this novel.
The search for understanding might be futile, but luckily it results in literature that is both fruitful and fascinating.