The American debut of an award-winning Danish novel, a bestseller throughout Europe.
On his return to Norway after imprisonment in a concentration camp, Askild Eriksson is hailed as a hero. Children on the street call him “The Carpenter” because he clobbered a German soldier on the head with a stick. It turns out, though, that Askild is more of a war profiteer than a principled resister. By the time the Nazis captured him, he had already made a small fortune by stealing their lumber and selling it back to them. As Askild’s wife is dying, her grandson, Asger, determines to unearth his family’s true story before it is buried forever. This is not a book to devour in one sitting. It is, rather, a novel for settling into, and it requires a certain kind of narrative patience—a willingness to go where the story leads. Asger, an unobtrusive and trusting narrator, is willing to accept that his father, Niels, was, as a boy, guided by the ghostly voice and dubious prophecies of Rasmus “The Fang” Svensson, Niels’s great-grandfather. Asger is similarly unwilling to pass judgment on Niels’s folkloric experience in a Norwegian forest: The fact that it may have been fueled by psychedelic mushrooms does not subtract from its truth value.
An earthy, funny, unflinching family history.