22. ilb 07. - 17.09.2022

Gulraiz Ahmed Sharif

Gulraiz Sharif was born in Norway in 1984 to Pakistani parents and works in Oslo as a primary school teacher.

In 2020, he released »Hør her’a!« [tr: Listen Up!], his debut novel. The main character is fifteen-year-old Mahmoud Marouf, who looks forward to summer vacations with mixed feelings. Not having school is a good thing. But while many of his Norwegian classmates go on trips, Mahmoud’s family – his parents are from Pakistan, he himself was born in Norway – can’t afford to go away. So Mahmoud, cheeky mouth, golden heart, squats on the bench outside their apartment block with his one-eyed friend Arif from Somalia. When Mahmoud’s family gets a visit from Uncle Ji from Pakistan for two months, the summer break picks up after all. Mahmoud is allowed to play tour guide for his uncle, who becomes so enthusiastic about Norway that he decides to immediately apply for asylum. But that’s not so easy in the Norway of 2020 … Meanwhile, Ali, Mahmoud’s little brother, isn’t behaving quite as his uncle would like or as is generally expected of a Pakistani boy. Ali plays with Barbies, watches Bollywood romances with his mother, and Disney princess Elsa is his hero. One night, he confides in Mahmoud that he would rather be a girl. Soon the whole family knows about his desire, and the conservative Muslim father in particular has his problems with it. But Mahmoud is a good son and a great big brother. He doesn’t allow the family to lose its cohesion.

Gulraiz Sharif gives his first-person narrator an original, distinctive voice. »Researched to the point of obscenity, Mahmoud throws around empty phrases and dirty language, while at the same time showering his little brother with affection. Emotionally and linguistically, the 15-year-old swings violently back and forth – which is typical for his age, but reads extraordinarily funny to outsiders«, according to Deutschlandfunk. The fact that topics such as racism and classism are joined by that of identity has also been received positively by critics. The »Zeit« summarized the work by stating that »›Ey hör mal‹ is in the tradition of Scandinavian literature that has a high proportion of reality, is tough and socially critical, but at the same time creates a positive utopia. Gulraiz Sharif is a very Norwegian author.«

»Hør her’a!« was awarded the debut prize for children’s and young adult literature by the Norwegian Ministry of Culture. A film adaptation of the novel is currently being planned. Gulraiz Sharif lives in Oslo.

Date: 2022