Practically an entire community is described in The last You will see is a face of Love (Det siste du skal se er et ansikt av kjærlighet). Even the floor in a gymnasium is given its own tiny chapter. The narrative focuses on four characters: Roy and his son Aksel, together with Kjersti, who is an advocate for the handicapped school pupil Siri, and finally the head master at Aksel and Siri's school. We share their day to day lives as the quiet drama unfolds in a community sheltered by the newly-rich Norwegian state.
Hofstad Evjemo writes about the dreams you hold on to in places where the world seems distant – and about everyone sharing the hope that life will offer something more. But, as we know, this is also about a community: new spaces in it are opened up and you can get in behind the facades, go where no one usually goes, find new patterns and structures. Practically everyone is presented and has parts of his or her life described: the bus driver, the driving school instructor, the nurse, the headmaster, the pupils, and the local authority arts boss – even the Crown Prince, when he visits the college in the town to give a lecture on climate. We are given a roving, strangely realistic view of the author's dissection of a body of Norwegian reality. Everywhere, he provides sharp thumbnail sketches of social and communal life.
Eivind Hofstad Evjemo has dared to do something not many in his generation would try: make a community his subject and explore its social hierarchies. He writes in a charged, insightful language.
‘Eivind Hofstad Evjemo recreates life in Norway in 2012, down to the finest detail, in a major candidate for the title “the great Norwegian novel”. … Det siste du skal se er et ansikt av kjærlighet is the kind of book that will challenge the capacity of the delivery trucks supplying the book shops this Christmas.’
‘This is an extraordinarily well-written piece of Norwegian contemporary literature (...)Brilliant: This is an unusually well-written example of contemporary Norwegian literature ... Eivind Hofstad Evjemo has an excellent grasp of style.’
‘Evjemo writes exceptionally well, with passion, insight and credibility. He is also effective in his use of humour, without being crude or dull. We smile with the people in his narrative, not at them. The characters come alive as nuanced and believable individuals. ... Det siste du skal se er et ansikt av kjærlighet is an ambitious and successful book which stands out among other contemporary Norwegian novels.’
‘Eivind Hofstad Evjemo’s excellent second novel describes individuals and local communities in a maelstrom of ordinary life. ... His language, which is both realistic and poetic, allows Evjemo to show how ruthlessly time slices through communities and human lives. In this way, Det siste du skal se er et ansikt av kjærlighet forms a lucid image of a small part of Norway.’
DAG OG TID
‘Playful and serious… The novel tugs and tears at the facades and empty clichés surrounding success. It goes to where real human beings exist, closely connected with each other. ... In a time when writers compete in describing their own, personal life experiences, it is a delight to hold in your hands a novel which insists on describing the ways in which every single human being is sincerely connected to others.’
5 stars out of 6
‘This novel makes me reflect on the ways in which we organize and systematize our society, and how we really treat each other in this country, which is always top rated on indexes measuring happiness and quality of life. That a book triggers such ideas in the minds of its readers shows that the text has taken a long stride in the direction of a socially engaged literature. Well done in these days of self-revelation and glorification of intimacy.’
‘This is skillfully written. The result is beautiful.’
‘Clever writing about local authority management … It follows that Det siste du skal se er et ansikt av kjærlighet is a witty satire, a wise story and sometimes so disquieting that the sum total becomes truly interesting.’
‘There is a longing in us all that Evjemo expresses sensitively in this low-key novel, which reaches its greatest heights when it takes the least things seriously. It is a humble and very Norwegian insight.’