Dag Solstad

Portrait Dag Solstad
© Ali Ghandtschi

Dag Solstad was born in Sandefjord, Norway in 1941. He emerged in the sixties with his experimental prose pieces and has since written nearly thirty books, mainly novels but also novellas, plays, and collections of journalistic articles. With »Arild Asnes« (1970), the story of a young man who considers a violently brought about transformation of society to be necessary, Solstad began a series of political novels, the most recent title being »Gymnaslæaerer Pedersens beretning om den store politiske vekkelsen som har hjemsøkt vårt land« (1982; tr: High School Teacher Pedersen’s Account of the Great Political Awakening That Has Swept Our Nation). The book’s film adaptation was released to cinemas in 2006. In 1982, Solstad, together with crime writer Jon Michelet, also published a book about the World Cup (»VM i fotball 1982«), which was followed by further editions every four years until 1998.

In his later works, Solstad increasingly focused on states of awareness and individual destiny, relinquishing any hope of political change in the face of the ever-expanding consumerist society. With precise prose that is mainly limited to an inner monologue and presents facts without commentary, the novel »Ellevte roman, bok atten« (1992; Eng. »Novel 11, Book 18«, 2017) draws the character of a loner whose assimiliation into any role in society is just as weak as his revolt against it. »Professor Andersens natt« (1996; Eng. »Professor Andersen’s Night«, 2012) depicts the existential problems of the representative of a social elite that defines itself through its unconventionality. »Genanse og verdighet« (1994; Eng. »Shyness and Dignity«, 2006), also addresses the theme of individual discontent with the roles one is forced to play. »T. Singer« (1999; Eng. 2018) is the story of a 34-year-old librarian who leaves Oslo and wants to start a new, anonymous life in the province. He marries a single mother and at first enjoys his role as husband and stepfather. Two years later, however, when he files for divorce and his wife dies in a car accident, Singer has to realize that he has failed in his attempt to find identity through chosen isolation and not through social integration. In his autobiographical novel »16.07.1941« (2002) he tells of his long and frequent walks through the streets of Berlin and reflects on father-son relationships.

Solstad is considered to be one of the most significant Norwegian writers. To date, he is the only author to have been awarded the Norwegian Critics Prize three times. Among other honors, he has received the Nordic Council Literature Prize, the Gyldendal Prize, the Brage Prize, and the Aschehoug Prize. Following his autobiographical novel »16.07.1941« (2002) Solstad lives in Oslo.