Friendship, exile, love, war and art: Johan Harstad's breathtaking new epic has it all.
Max Hansen is sleepless in the Midwest. He is a theatre director on tour across the US. It's possible that he has turned into an American. He hasn't been home for over 20 years.
If it was up to him he would never have left the place he was born, a suburb to Stavanger on the west coast of Norway, where kids could make as much noise as they wanted while their fathers were working on the oil rigs in the North Sea, and where a heavy silence descended on the houses when they returned. But no one gets what they want.
Max, Mischa and the Tet Offensive is a novel about the applicability of Vietnamese guerilla warfare in everyday life, about those who have been to war and those who have demonstrated against them: about hyperrealist paintings of washing machines and girls who look like Shelley Duvall; about the sun out on Fire Island and a sought-after working copy of Apocalypse Now. But more than anything this is a novel about the question anyone who has ever left home sooner or later has to ask himself: How long do you have to be away before it becomes too late to go home?
Open your eyes wide! This is a novel which aims high, overflowing with the joy of storytelling, sharp reflections and a deep knowledge of the human being (...) Brutally clever!
6 out of 6 stars
A gigantic novel about war, love, flight and art which takes your breath away (…) Harstad brings to life the most complex themes with a literary ease, orality and originality which make this a hypnotical read.(6 out of 6 stars)
A novel can do so many interesting things to you. It can induce laughter and tears, reflection and doubt, forgetting and remembering, understanding and empathy, impatience and irritation. Harstad’s novel does all of this. I have only one thing to say: Respect!
Johan Harstad creates magic with the novel’s epic possibilities. (…) There are many types of novels, and then there’s - I'm tempted to say - Norwegian Johan Harstad’s 1,066 pages long Max, Mischa & The Tet Offensive. (…) Goddamn impressive.
6 out of 6 stars
Max, Mischa & The Tet Offensive is not a single page too long. (...) Johan Harstad has an admirable ability to convey social and cultural inspirations that over the years form Max's view of the world and itself. (…)
This year’s Great American Novel is written by a Norwegian. (…) The novel contains all the elements that characterize a classic, and then some, for the author and playwright Johan Harstad is a rarely generous person. The novel (...), and it's not a page or a paragraph too much.
6 out of 6 stars
An engrossing novel that makes you work for it and leaves you exhausted, but impressed.
The literary event of the year.
5 out of 5 stars
It's entertaining and smart, compassionate and cheeky, sharp and rousing – simply a great novel.
[A] new In Search of a Lost Time, a double Buddenbrooks for the very last generation, who was a child in the pre-digital age and who wrote letters to their parents from the holiday camp and played their favorite films on clunky VHS-tapes.
Harstad's novel moves powerfully and effortlessly between Norway and America and redefines the relationship of home, belonging and identity. Max, Mischa & the Tet-offensive is ambitiously constructed and spectacular in style.