Winner of the Nordic Prize 2002, The Half Brother has already sold more than 200,000 copies in Norway alone. This literary marvel tells the story of an ordinary Norwegian family in the 1960s, set apart by extraordinary family members, and of two half-brothers leading very different and separate lives, until they are brought together again at their mother's deathbed.
Barnum and Fred are half-brothers, growing up in sixties Oslo. Barnum seems to have stopped growing, while his half-brother, frustrated by learning difficulties, is sent away to a special school. Theirs is an ordinary Norwegian family of the time, set apart by extraordinary family members. Their father is no better than a con man, giving the appearance of a traveling salesman; while the three woman in the family (mother, grandmother and great-grandmother, the 'Old One') are all unwed mothers. Then the Old One is killed by a hit and run driver - and Fred becomes mute as a result. The two half-brothers embark on their separate courses, Fred becoming a boxer and Barnum a scriptwriter, hoping to create a new genre in film, 'the northern' (as opposed to 'western'). The brothers won't meet again until at their mother's deathbed, many years later..
'Imagine if Saabye Christensen had grown up on Manhattan’s East Side. We’d be talking about a world-class best-seller.'
A wonder of a novel. As a childhood narrative it is a gem. ... It is by no means an inaccessible book, yet it runs deep. So deep, in fact, that it would be impossible to reflect all the psychological layering in a review beyond referring samples of the rich, refined textual tapestry.
A Divine Comedy. A tragic comedy-cum-family chronicle of great proportions, beautifully crafted, Hamsunesque in its approach.'
This is a great river of a book. The phrase came spontaneously as I was irresistibly carried along the flow. The Half Brother is magnificent. .. The Half Brother is like Paul Auster's The Book of Illusions meeting Jonathan Franzen's The Corrections.'
The Half Brother is no mere interesting example of contemporary Scandinavian writing; it's a deeply felt, intricately worked and intellectually searching work of absolutely international importance.'