In this existential murder mystery, it is Christmas Eve, and fifty-five-year-old professor Pål Andersen is alone, drinking coffee and cognac in his living room. Lost in thought, he looks out the window and sees a man strangle a woman in the apartment across the street. Failing to report the crime, he becomes paralyzed by his indecision. Professor Andersen’s Night is an unsettling yet highly entertaining novel, written in Dag Solstad’s signature concise, dark, and witty prose. “He’s a kind of surrealistic writer, of very strange novels,” Haruki Murakami wrote. “I think he is serious literature”.
With sublime restraint and subtle modulation, Solstad conveys an entire age of sorrow and loss.
Solstad’s growing reputation in the English-speaking world rests on just a small sliver of his oeuvre, after he “retired” the theme of communism. In the 1990s, he published four slim, disturbed novels, which Solstad said are “reasonable to view as a suite,” about men in contemporary Norwegian society who see themselves, wrongly and rightly, as drifting outside the bounds of conventional life. These novels—Novel 11, Book 18 (1992), Shyness and Dignity (1994), Professor Andersen’s Night (1996), and T. Singer (1999)—have all been translated into English. They are stripped-down, hallucinatory works, unsentimentally scrutinizing the male protagonists as they crack under the pressures of an increasingly consumerist and atomized social world.
—Matt B. Weir, Dissent
Solstad, regarded by Norwegians as arguably their finest and surely their most critically praised and influential contemporary novelist, pairs his deep political engagement with an ever-renewed formal invention. With each new novel, he startles us, his readers, yet again with something unexpected. I find him, with his spirited intelligence, a delight and an inspiration to read, whether (haltingly!) in Norwegian or, over the past few years, happily, gratefully, in English translation.
There’s an undeniable beauty in the way he raises tedious self-reflexivity to the level of music.
I find him an utterly hypnotic and utterly humane writer.
—James Wood, The New Yorker
His language sparkles with its new old-fashioned elegance and radiates a unique luster, inimitable and full of élan.