Haavardsholm, Espen

   A Norwegian novelist and short story writer, Espen Haavardsholm, like his better-known colleague Dag Solstad, started out with a focus on such modernist themes as alienation and absurdity. Many of the stories in his first book, Tidevann (1966; Tidewater), discuss anxiety as a force in human life. The novel Munnene (1968; The Mouths) portrays four young people whose social interaction limits their self-expression. Den avskyelige snømannen (1970; The Abominable Snowman) contains eight short stories about emotional alienation. A semi-documentary collection of seven texts, Zink (1971; Zinc) argues in favor of a Marxist-Leninist revolution in Norway. Grip dagen (1973; Seize the Day) centers on Norway's referendum concerning membership in the European Economic Community, held on 25 September 1972; it argues that Norwegian society is sacrificing its traditional values of liberty and equality in favor of economic growth at any price. Historiens kraftlinjer (1975; The Power Lines of History) offers Albania as an example of an ideal society. Like many other radical writers in Norway at the time, Haavardsholm began to depart from orthodox Marxist-Leninism in the 1980s. Drift (1980; Floating) tells the story of a teacher who becomes disenchanted with communism following a visit to East Berlin.
   Svarte fugler over kornakeren (1981; Black Birds over the Grain Field) contains four stories about love and its problems. The autobiographical novel Store fri (1983; Big Break) presents the existential problems of Haavardsholm's peers, the children of Norwegian radicals of the 1930s. Roger, gult (1986; Roger, Yellow) is yet another novel about teenage angst in Oslo in the 1960s. In the first-person novel Huleskyggen (1990; The Cave Shadow), a middle-aged painter tries to comprehend the consequences of his own childhood and youth for his daughter. The multilayered mystery novel Ikke søkt av sol (1994; Unseen by the Sun) is also centered on the main character's self-analysis.
   The protagonist of the novel Det innerste rommet (1996; The Innermost Room) is a psychiatrist named Endre Sand, who, like many other Haavardsholm characters, looks for self-understanding in his childhood and youth, and especially in his relationship with his friends Uno and Katja, who later married each other. Italienerinnen (1998; The Italian Woman), one of Haavardsholm's most successful novels, combines the story of a contemporary love triangle with the narrative of a shipwreck in the Lofoten archipelago in 1431. The novel Lilit (2001; Lilith) is a continuation of Det innerste rommet; Katja brutally murders her husband Uno, and Endre tries to figure out why.
   Haavardsholm returned to autobiographical narration in Gutten pa passbildet (2004; The Boy in the Passport Photo), which combines a story set in 1959 with notes to an autobiography and family pictures. He has also written books for young adults as well as biographies of Aksel Sandemose and Johan Borgen.

Historical Dictionary of Scandinavian Literature and Theater. . 2006.

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