Lars Saabye Christensen (1953–) is a gifted storyteller, a narrator who is imaginative, but equally down to earth. His realism alternates between poetic image and ingenious incident, conveyed in supple metropolitan language and slang that never smacks of the artificial or forced. His heroes possess a good deal of self-irony. Indeed, critics have drawn parallels with the black humour of Woody Allen. But beneath the liveliness of his portrayal melancholy always lurks in the books.
Since his début in 1976 Saabye Christensen has written ten collections of poetry, five collections of short stories and twelve novels. His great break through came with the novel Beatles (Beatles) in 1984. The book store sale of over 200,000 copies of the Norwegian edition has made this one of the greatest commercial successes in Norway, and it was voted the best novel throughout the last 25 years by Dagbladet's readers in 2006.
In 2001 he wrote the successful novel Halvbroren (The Half Brother) about two brothers – Fred and Barnum – who are struggling to become whole individuals. The Half Brother is an extraordinarily generous and moving novel, following a family over a period of many years, through all stages of life. Delving into the sorrowful, into yearning and absence, it also portrays beautifully the survival skills and rather black humour of old women. It is a narrative with a rich, vibrant historical foundation, and several stories all woven together. It is a lavish, entertaining and sagacious novel; restrained, enigmatic, and wonderfully crafted.
Both the critics and the audience have been acclaiming this great novel. More than 300.000 copies are sold in Norway. The novel has received many prizes and awards, and is the author's definitive international break-through. The press wrote:
«As a novel it is a literary feat of international eminence, a book which, throughout an entire 650 pages, offers reading pleasure of a scintillating, euphoric kind.»
«As a Bildungsroman and a childhood narrative it is a gem.»
«This is a great river of a book. The Half Brother is magnificent... It is like Paul Auster's The Book of Illusions meeting Jonathan Franzen's The Corrections.»
«The Half Brother is no mere interesting example of contemporary Scandinavian writing; it's a deeply felt, intricately worked and intellectually searching work of absolutely international importance.»
«The Half Brother is the kind of big ambitious panoramic novel of the sort we tend to think only Americans write these days. It is part Bildungsroman - depicting the coming of age of a writer - part a Ulysses for Oslo... A big rewarding read.»
«The writer has a great gift and this book will stand the test of time.»
The Age, NZ
In 2003 he wrote the novel Maskeblomstfamilien (The Foxgloves). His fifth short story collection, Oscar Wildes heis (Oscar Wilde's Elevator) was issued in 2004, and in 2005 he wrote Modellen (The Model).
Tarjei Vesaas' Debutant Prize 1976
Prize for the best Radio Drama 1991-92
The Cappelen Prize 1984
The Riverton Prize 1987
The Critics' Prize 1988
The Booksellers' Prize 1990 for the novel Bly (Bly)
The Brage Prize 2001 for the novel Halvbroren (The Half Brother)
The Booksellers' Prize 2001 for the novel Halvbroren (The Half Brother)
The Nordic Councils' Literary Prize 2001 for the novel Halvbroren (The Half Brother)
Shortlisted for the International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award, 2005 for Halvbroren (The Half Brother)
Nominated to The Independent Foreign Fiction Literary Prize 2004 for Halvbroren (The Half Brother)