Saturday, October 24, 2009
A question about Jan Kjaerstad
There was a review by By Tom Shone in yesterday's New York Times of Jan Kjaerstad’s novel The Discoverer. The review makes the novel, and the whole "Jonas Wergeland" trilogy by the Norwegian author, sound awful, though the review is actually quite funny in a snarky way (the reviewer takes a shot at Salman Rushdie, suggesting he's allergic to postmodernist shenanigans). For instance, Shone claims that Kjaerstad intends to do for Norway what Joyce did for Ireland, but instead achieves "more like 1,500 pages of air guitar in a neo-Nietzschean vein." The Kjaerstad books aren't exactly crime fiction, according to what I've heard, but have a crime plot at their center. I hadn't gotten them because the blurbs made the books sound a bit ponderous--but the review makes them sound beyond ponderous into the realm of pomposity, regarding the self-importance of the main character and his “magic penis." Check out the review here please, and let us know what you think--those of you who have in fact read (or tried to read) Kjaerstad in translation or in the original Norwegian, as well as what you think of snarky (if funny) reviews.