A book about loneliness. Tender, and very, very funny.
Elling is 32 years old and lives in the apartment that he shared with his mother until her death. He passes the time by documenting the lives of his neighbours through a telescope, while nurturing his love to prime minister Gro Harlem Brundtland. A condition he treats by collecting pictures of the prime minster - the woman who represents the only thing safe in an otherwise chaotic environment.
Ingvar Ambjørnsen (b. 1956) is considered to be one of the great storytellers of contemporary Norwegian literature. Since his literary début in 1981, Ambjørnsen has written twentyfour novels and three collections of short stories, as well as essay collections and several books for children and youth. He has won a number of awards, including the Riverton Prize, the Brage Award, the Booksellers’ Award and the Riksmål Prize. His works are sold to ... countries. Many of them have been adapted into films with great success. The movie Elling, based on Ambjørnsen’s novels Fugledansen and Brødre i blodet, was nominated to an Oscar in 2001, and Elling the theatre play has appeared on stage in several theatres around Europe to great acclaim.
Ambjørnsen’s books are often characterized by powerful, realistic descriptions of the seamier side of life. The protagonists tend to be outsiders – described with sympathetic insight and warmth. Loneliness and friendship are expressed in a concise literary style. His break-through novel from 1986, Hvite niggere (White Trash), is an excellent example of this. It is a crass exposure of the plight of that unfortunate soul seeking out an existence in sub-cultures.
Still, most readers will know Ambjørnsen’s work through a quartet of novels about the odd-ball Elling. Utsikt til paradiset (A Vision of Paradise) from 1993, Fugledansen (The Chicken Dance) from 1995, Brødre i blodet (Beyond the Great Indoors) from 1996 and Elsk meg i morgen (Love Me Tomorrow) from 1999 established Ambjørnsen as one of the most widely read Norwegian authors in the past few decades, with half a million copies in print. Ambjørnsen introduced something entirely new with this quartet. The books contain less external plot, but proportionately more crazy inventiveness and absurd, gentle humour. The novels depict the loneliness of their protagonist – and the dream of friendship and romantic love. It is an entertaining, thought-provoking read. Some reviewers has called Elling “the Norwegian Forest Gump”.
Awards The Cappelen Prize 1988. The City of Hamburg Grant. The City of Lübeck Grant. The best book for Young Readers of the 1980's for Døden på Oslo S (Death in Oslo Central Station) 1991. The Brage Prize 1995 for Fugledansen (The Bird Dance). The Booksellers' Prize 1996 for Brødre i blodet (Beyond the Great Indoors). Oslo City Cultural Prize 2001. Anders Jahre's Cultural Prize 2004. The Salvation Army's Booth Prize 2004.