The protagonist in Ambjørnsen's new novel is Alexander Irgens, Norway's king of crime, who has a large part of the international crime fiction audience falling at his feet with his series about Stig Hammer.
His seventh novel, Høye mørke menn, is launched in grand style at the literature festival in Lillehammer, where the great Author is coddled by a female-dominated industry that just wants to interview and feed him. Irgens is married with a son, but he's in Lillehammer with his mistress, Vilde, a volatile woman who thinks both he and his violent crime writing receive a ridiculous amount of attention. Whereas most people flatter and fuss over him, she's only too willing to hit where it hurts when he oversteps the mark.
Ut av ilden is an exciting and enjoyable portrayal of thepublishing industry which addresses the increasing brutality required to satiate an audience. But fundamentally it is a novel about shame and an author who knows his life has taken a downward turn and that he has not been true to himself.
‘What starts as relatively harmless ridicule becomes sharp criticism with a shocking sting of an ending. … Ingvar Ambjørnsen has put his heart into the details – into the lovely little everyday considerations and a wealth of succinct dialogue.’
‘Sharp, poetic and entertaining. An impressive balancing act from an author in a similar situation. … It is the mix of social criticism and existential seriousness which give this novel sense of gravity and literary power. Here Ingvar Ambjørnsen shows his prowess as an author.’
‘The puzzle that is Alexander Irgens is laid out, and in this regard, Ut av ilden is a riveting, disturbing, unpleasant yet great novel. … The nostalgic imagery conjured by Irgens’ narrative voice is something few do more beautifully or effortlessly than Ambjørnsen. …when it comes to writing chilling descriptions of people – the good and the bad – and their unpredictable actions, Ambjørnsen is still a master.’
‘Ut av ilden is not just a thoroughly entertaining novel about our own literary circus tent, it is also a story about a man – coincidentally, a successful author – who is intoxicated and blinded by his own greatness, and who is deceitful and weak-minded when it comes to those around him. This picture of “the author as a stupid man” is both pointed and cutting – Ambjørnsen makes poetry of bombastic pathos when necessary.’
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