My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Norwegian by Night Wow! What to say about this book? How to define it, even? When I chose it I was just hoping for a decent read set in the land of the Vikings. A literary novel. I didn’t have high expectations. So it’s all that much better than Norwegian by Night took me by surprise and completely blew me away.
This is the story of Sheldon Horowitz, a Jewish American Marine sniper, Korean War veteran, who is now 82 years old and living with his granddaughter and her husband in Oslo, Norway. After opening his door to a neighbor being abused by her husband, Sheldon becomes embroiled in a murder of international proportions and is forced to take the neighbor’s young son — who he cannot communicate with — and try to make it to his son-in-law’s hunting cabin, eluding Norway’s liberal police, the killer, and the memories of how he drove his own son into the Vietnam War and ultimately to his death.
It’s a hard story to define. On a literary angle, it deals with growing old and examining one’s life and the effect that life has had on others. It’s also a fine adventure story as Sheldon and the boy he names Paul play the parts of Jim and Huckleberry Finn fleeing the city for the wild places. It’s about anti-Semitism, and defining who you are by where you come from. And it’s a police procedural, as we see the crime and manhunt from the perspective of a female police inspector.
Ultimately, it’s a sad story with a bittersweet ending. One you’ll see coming chapters before you get there, but Sheldon makes you keep going. The last few lines are a little unsatisfying and I’d have liked an epilogue where we see Rhea enlightened and the investigation closed, but these are little things.
I highly recommend this one. I suspect it’ll end up being my favorite new read for this year.