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Fløgstad, Kjartan 1944- (Kjartan Villum)

Fløgstad, Kjartan 1944- (Kjartan Villum)

PERSONAL:

Born June 7, 1944, in Sauda, Norway; son of Klaus (an industrial worker) and Margrit (a homemaker) Fløgstad; married Anne K. Nore (a physician), 1977; children: Aslak, Guro. Education: University of Oslo, M.A., 1971; attended the University of Bergen, 1965-67.

ADDRESSES:

Office—Oslo, Norway. Agent—Gyldendal Norsk Forlag, Postboks 6860, St. Olavs Plass, 0130 Oslo 1, Norway.

CAREER:

Freelance writer, c. 1968—. Also worked as a sailor, industrial worker, and a reader for a publishing house.

MEMBER:

Den norske Forfattarforening (Writers Union), 1970—.

AWARDS, HONORS:

Aschehoug prize, 1974; Nordic Council prize, 1977, for Dalen Portland; Norwegian Critics' prize, 1980; Melsom prize, 1980; Pegasus Prize, Mobil Oil Corporation, 1988, for Dollar Road; Gyldendals legat, 1991; Brage Prize, 1998; Gyldendal Prize, 1999.

WRITINGS:

NOVELS

Rasmus, Norske Samlaget (Oslo, Norway), 1974.

(As Kjartan Villum) Døden ikke heller (title means "Not Even Death"), Gyldendal (Oslo, Norway), 1975.

(As Kjartan Villum) Ein for alle (title means "One for All"), Norske Samlaget (Oslo, Norway), 1976.

Dalen Portland, Norske Samlaget (Oslo, Norway), 1977, translation by Nadia Christensen published as Dollar Road, Louisiana State University Press (Baton Rouge, LA), 1989.

Fyr og flamme (title means "Fire and Flame"), Norske Samlaget (Oslo, Norway), 1980.

U3, Norske Samlaget (Oslo, Norway), 1983.

Det 7. klima: Salim Mahmood i Media Thule (title means "The Seventh Climate: Salim Mahmood in Media Thule"), Norske Samlaget (Oslo, Norway), 1986.

Kniven på strupen (title means "The Knife at the Throat"), Gyldendal (Oslo, Norway), 1991.

Fimbul, Gyldendal (Oslo, Norway), 1994.

Kron og mynt: eit veddemål, Gyldendal (Oslo, Norway), 1998.

Paradis på jord, Gyldendal (Oslo, Norway), 2002.

Also author of the novel Grand Manila.

ESSAYS

Fangliner (title means "Mooring Lines"), Norske Samlaget (Oslo, Norway), 1972.

Loven vest for Pecos, og andre essays om populoer kunst og kulturindustri (title means "The Law West of Pecos, and Other Essays on Popular Art and the Culture Industry"), Gyldendal (Oslo, Norway), 1981.

Ordlyden (title means "Wording"), Norske Samlaget (Oslo, Norway), 1983.

Tyrannosaurus Text, Norske Samlaget (Oslo, Norway), 1988.

Ved Roma port, Norske Samlaget (Oslo, Norway), 1994.

Antipoder: Essays, Gyldendal (Oslo, Norway), 1996.

Dei ytterste ting, Gyldendal (Oslo, Norway), 1998.

Osloprocessen, Gyldendal (Oslo, Norway), 2000.

POETRY

Valfart (title means "Pilgrimage"), Norske Samlaget (Oslo, Norway), 1968.

Seremoniar (title means "Ceremonies"), Norske Samlaget (Oslo, Norway), 1969.

Dikt og spelmannsmusikk: 1968-1993 (title means "Poems and Fiddler's Music"), Gyldendal (Oslo, Norway), 1993.

TRAVEL

Pampa Unión: Latinamerikanske reiser (title means "Pampa Union: Travels in Latin America"), Gyldendal (Oslo, Norway), 1994.

(Coauthor) Gunnar Torvund, Labyrinth Press (Oslo, Norway), 1998.

Eld og vatn: nordmenn i Sør-Amerika, Universitetsforlaget, 1999.

Sudamericana. Latinamerikanske reiser, Gyldendal (Oslo, Norway), 2000.

Shanghai Ekspress, Gyldendal (Oslo, Norway), 2001.

OTHER

Den hemmelege jubel (prose; title means "The Secret Exultation"), Norske Samlaget (Oslo, Norway), 1970.

(Translator) Jean Thomas Ungerer, De tre roevarane (title means "The Three Robbers"), Bokklubbens Barn (Oslo, Norway), 1973.

(Translator) Litteratur i revolusjonen: Dikt fra Cuba (title means "Literature and Revolution: Poetry from Cuba"), Pax (Oslo, Norway), 1973.

(Translator) Pablo Neruda, Dikt i utval (title means "Selected Poetry"), Mariendal (Oslo, Norway), 1973.

Portrett av eit magisk liv: Poeten Claes Gill (biography; title means "Portrait of a Magic Life: The Poet Claes Gill"), Aschehoug (Oslo, Norway), 1988.

Arbejdets lys: tungindustrien i Sauda gennem 75 å (history; title means "The Light of Work"), Norske Samlaget (Oslo, Norway), 1990.

(With M.H. Olsen) Reisen: en antologi (essays, short stories, and poetry), Eide (Oslo, Norway), 1991.

Evig varer lengst (title means "Forever Lasts the Longest"; two-act play; produced in Oslo, Norway, at Norwegian Theater, 2000), Gyldendal (Oslo, Norway), 2000.

SIDELIGHTS:

Kjartan Fløgstad was born in the western Norwegian industrial city of Sauda in 1944. His experiences as a factory worker and as a sailor have informed his writing. Fløgstad "is widely recognized," according to Hans H. Skei in Contemporary World Writers, "as one of the foremost novelists of the generation which dominated the revolutionary 1970s, and has remained in the forefront of literary life in Norway." He has won several literary awards in his native land, and his novels, including crime fiction under the pseudonym Kjartan Villum, often have socialist themes. Yet as Skei pointed out, unlike other Norwegian novelists who advocate socialism, Fløgstad does not have his characters "discuss solidarity or work for high ideals: they work to get their pay, discuss football, watch TV, and brag about women."

Fløgstad has not confined himself to fiction; his first published book was the 1968 poetry volume Valfart. He has also published collections of his essays, as well as works of biography and travel. In addition, he has translated the works of writers from other cultures, including Pablo Neruda, into Norwegian. One of Fløgstad's own novels, 1977's Dalen Portland, was translated into English by Nadia Christensen as Dollar Road.

Dollar Road "is a convincing and entertaining story of working-class life," Skei wrote. In the novel, Skei continued, the author "combines magic realism, wild exaggeration, popular wisdom, and humor with a tough realism." The story is that of a small Norwegian community making the transition from a rural lifestyle to an industrial one. Most of Fløgstad's characters in Dollar Road are members of the same fictitious family, and while the focus is on western Norway, several individuals travel to more exotic locations during the course of the tale.

Two of Fløgstad's later works are Kniven på strupen and Fimbul. The former, a crime novel, depicts a conspiracy in which international drug money floods the regular economy and provides a major part of the funding for the arts. Sverre Lyngstad, reviewing Kniven på strupen in World Literature Today, had a mixed response. The critic stated that Fløgstad "is known for his verbal play," and praised the "wittily irreverent vignettes" in the story. Fimbul takes a theme from Norse mythology of successive winters that lead up to the end of the world, and compresses this apocalypse into a three-month period in 1978. During this time span, several terrorists plot to blow up Akershus Castle in Oslo, while former Israeli and Egyptian leaders Menachem Begin and Anwar Sadat are inside accepting the Nobel Peace Prize. Of Fimbul Lyngstad, again writing in World Literature Today, observed that Fløgstad "at this moment in history … can find nothing human—whether sex, love, education, efforts at peacemaking between nations, utopian hopes—that deserves to be exempted from his burlesque mockery."

More than two decades after publishing Valfart and Seremoniar, his two previous volumes of poetry, Fløgstad produced Dikt og spelmannsmusikk: 1968-1993. Interspersed with his own verse are translations of works by other poets. Speaking of Fløgstad's original poetic creations, Lyngstad commented: "One recognizes in this verse the playful creative temper of Fløgstad the spirited prose virtuoso, delighting in aphorisms, parody, and bizarre humor." Lyngstad went on to proclaim, however, that behind the language tricks "stands a mordant social critic."

In 2000, Fløgstad debuted Evig varer lengst, a two-act play that Lyngstad described as "an out-and-out farce with a serious theme." The work centers on Harry Osen, a government official who returns from an assignment in Africa blind to the fact that his wife, Sara, has begun an affair with his best friend, "Stencil," who has been abandoned by his own wife, Harriet. "Fløgstad has produced a cliffhanger: the action keeps teetering on the brink of disclosure but always pulls back, leaving Harry with his sweet illusions," Lyngstad wrote in a World Literature Today review. "Meanwhile the dialogue, stippled with double entendres and Fløgstadian puns, alludes with pointed irony to the underlying situation of deceit, collusion, and betrayal."

BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:

BOOKS

Contemporary World Writers, St. James Press (Detroit, MI), 1993.

PERIODICALS

Publishers Weekly, September 8, 1989, review of Dollar Road, p. 56.

Scandinavian Studies, autumn, 1991, Frankie Shackelford, review of Dollar Road, pp. 497-498.

World Literature Today, autumn, 1992, Sverre Lyngstad, review of Kniven på strupen, p. 731; summer, 1994, Sverre Lyngstad, review of Dikt og spelmannsmusikk: 1968-1993, p. 589; summer, 1995, Sverre Lyngstad, review of Fimbul, p. 603; summer, 1997, Sverre Lyngstad, review of Antipoder: Essays, p. 607; autumn, 1999, Sverre Lyngstad, review of Kron og mynt: eit veddemål, p. 762; spring, 2001, Sverre Lyngstad, review of Evig varer lengst, p. 379; May-June, 2007, Jan Sjavik, review of Grand Manila, p. 68.

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