cover image Professor Andersen's Night

Professor Andersen's Night

Dag Solstad, trans. from the Norwegian by Agnes Scott Langeland. Vintage (UK) (IPG, dist.), $14.95 trade paper (154p) ISBN 978-0-0995-7842-0

Alone on Christmas Eve, 55 year-old literature professor Andersen stares at the Christmas tree in his living room, "at peace," indulging in Christmas rituals which "meant nothing to him." But standing by his window in reflective silence, he witnesses a man strangling a woman in the apartment across the street. Award-winning Norwegian novelist Solstad, (Shyness and Dignity) presents a curious novella of mid-life crisis and social critique triggered by a senseless murder. As the only witness of the crime, the indecisive professor is unable to call the police or confide his findings to his friends. He attempts to distract himself, obsessing over the whereabouts of the perpetrator and harboring an "impossible hope" to see the murderer's face again. That is until he realizes he is sitting next to the murderer at a sushi bar. "My nerves shriek in dread at the thought of no longer possessing a historical consciousness, because it means that our day and age will disappear along with us," Andersen rambles in witty commentary about the compromises of his generation. Though he gets caught in existential mires of his own making, Solstad mixes clever prose with deadpan humor to forge a memorable protagonist. (July)