Christensen, Lars Saabye


Christensen, Lars Saabye
(1953-)
   A Norwegian novelist, poet, dramatist, and screenwriter, Christensen is one of Norway's most important contemporary writers. Some of his most important works have been translated into English, and he has received a number of literary prizes, including the prestigious Nordic Literary Prize (2002). Born and raised in Oslo, Christensen uses the city and its various problems as the setting and theme in his literary works.
   After two privately printed collections of poetry as well as some poems published in anthologies, Christensen's debut came with Historien om Gly (1976; The Story about Gly), which tells about the sad life and suicide of a young outsider, whose poetry is also included in the volume. Then came the novel Amatøren (1977; The Amateur), which has as its protagonist another misfit, Christian Humle, whose life, in contrast to that ofGly, is portrayed with a good deal ofhumor. Christensen's next two books are characterized by despair; they are poetry collections entitled Kamelen i mitt hjerte (1978; The Camel in My Heart) and Jaktmarker (1979; Hunting Grounds). His best collection of poetry is Paraply (1982; Umbrella).
   Christensen's fame rests on his novels. Amatøren was followed by Billettene (1980; The Tickets) and Jokeren (1981; tr. The Joker, 1991), both of which are crime stories. The former features a streetcar conductor who sells used tickets in order to save up enough money to escape from his miserable life; the latter tells about a bank robber who, after reading his own obituary in the paper, tries to find out who paid to have the obituary printed. But it was the novel Beatles (1984) that became both Christensen's definitive breakthrough and a runaway bestseller. Set in Oslo in the 1960s, it chronicles the lives of a group of teenage boys whose lives are centered on the music of the British band. It offers fascinating characters, particularly the narrator, Kim Karlsen, and is an interesting portrayal of the decade in which Christensen himself lived through his teen years.
   The thriller Sneglene (1987; The Snails) garnered Christensen the Riverton Prize for the year's best mystery story. In Herman (1988; tr. 1992), another prize-winning novel, he returns to the 1960s and tells the story of a boy who loses his hair and has to cope with teasing and mood swings. It is a vivid portrait of life in a big city as seen through the eyes of a child. Bly (1990; Lead) continues the story of Kim Karlsen, the narrator in Beatles. A young boy is also the protagonist in Gutten som ville være en av gutta (1992; The Boy Who Wanted to Be One of the Boys), a story about soccer, a ubiquitous pastime in Norway.
   Christensen moved to Vesteralen in northern Norway in 1983. This is the part of the country where many of Knut Hamsun's novels are set, and Christensen's novel Jubel (1995; Jubilation) offers portraits of characters that evoke some of Hamsun's figures. But Halvbroren (2001; tr. The HalfBrother, 2003) is strikingly original; its theme is deception both as a means of getting along in the world and as a coping strategy. The novel Maskeblomstfamilien (2003; The Turtlehead Family) is another novel set in Oslo in the 1960s. Ever the prolific writer, Christensen has also published other volumes ofprose, collections of poetry, books of photography for which he has provided poetic captions, dramas, and movie scripts.

Historical Dictionary of Scandinavian Literature and Theater. . 2006.

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