22. ilb 07. - 17.09.2022

Tomas Espedal

Portrait Tomas Espedal
© Dag Knudsen

Tomas Espedal was born in 1961 in Bergen, Norway, which he left several times, but returned to again and again and where he lives today. His way of writing is unique. Based on his diaries, the experiences recorded in them often form the narrative thread for a novel. Espedal’s language is simple and honest without embellishments and thus creates a kind of autobiographical poetic prose. For him, storytelling is a craft in the truest sense of the word, since he only writes with a pen on paper, turning and rotating the words and sentences he takes down, rewriting or rejecting them altogether, until they truly stand up to the test and are refined down to only what is  essential. As the son of a family of factory workers who decided to become a writer and thus broke with tradition, he found himself identifying with Thomas Mann’s epic »Buddenbrocks« and addressed this question of (artistic) identity in several of his works.
In 1988 he made his literary début with the story »En vill flukt av parfymer« (tr: A Wild Escape from Perfume) about the love and jealousy of a young author living in Rome. The role of wanderlust as one of the continuous motifs of his work can also be seen in his novel »Gå. Eller kunsten å leve et vilt og poetisk liv« (2006; Eng. »Tramp: Or the Art of Living a Wild and Poetic Life«, 2010). In it, Espedal tells the story of a man who gives up his orderly life as a father of a family for that of a vagrant tramp and sets off on a demanding journey on foot from Norway and across Germany to southern Europe and above all else finds self-discovery while having imaginary conversations with great thinkers. In 2009, the author received the Norwegian Critics Prize and the Glydendal Prize for his story »Imot kunsten« (2015; Eng. »Against Art«, 2011). In the following novel »Imot naturen« (2011, Eng. »Against Nature«, 2016), which earned him the Brage Prize, Espedal grants readers a look into the notebooks of an almost forty-year-old man who, for several years, has an »against nature«  relationship with a woman who is only in her early twenties. After his lover leaves him, he withdraws to the cellar of his house to fill pages after pages with descriptions of the three great loves of his life. The protagonist and narrator of his novel »Året« (2016, tr: The Year ) is a Norwegian writer from Bergen trying to process the separation from his much younger lover. Most recently, Espedal published the burlesque short novel »Elsken« (2018; tr: Loving) about a man who, after the death of his wife, decides to give himself a nice day and then kill himself, yet he realizes how difficult it is to turn away from life – especially when life is at its most beautiful.