cover image Self-Control


Stig Saeterbakken, trans. from the Norwegian by Se%C3%A1n Kinsella. Dalkey Archive, $13.50 trade paper (159p) ISBN 9781564788139

The last work of the acclaimed late Norwegian novelist, Saeterbakken (Siamese), who died earlier this year, is a grotesque and completely engrossing journey into the mind of depressed, cynical, and ever insightful Andreas Feldt, a Norwegian factory worker, whose voice is so deliciously incisive that it will make readers wonder if they have ever read a more candid, if at times unreliable, first-person narrative. The novel opens with Feldt meeting his estranged daughter for coffee and making up a spontaneous lie that he is divorcing her mother. Tempted by a feeling of new possibility for his tired and banal life with its monthly visits from loathsome friends and servicing the same out%E2%80%93of-date machines under the eye of his incompetent boss, Feldt begins to challenge his routine while all the time trying to quell a silent and barely suppressible rage. For a 24-hour period, Feldt abandons his responsibilities for a dynamic night on the town, where he scrutinizes himself as well as others, but also finds a few kindred spirits. Saeterbakken's observations of human behavior, through the lens of Feldt, are stunning in their realistic complexity. Saeterbakken has managed to explore the range of our darker emotions, and readers may not emerge without having recognized a part of themselves. (Oct.)