In The Antagonist we meet Jørgen Ribe, whose father is a manager at the banana company, Banan-Matthiessen. They live in Frogner in Oslo, and in the attic, his father is working on building a model of the royal palace in a matchstick box.
One day, a new family moves into the apartment building, including Carl, a boy around Jørgen’s age. A friendship develops between them.
“What will become of Jørgen Ribe? He became a well-known author, it’s not unreasonable to say one of the best of his generation, at least for a while, and he also had many readers around his own age, who had followed his authorship loyally since the beginning, specifically since 1976 when he published his debut Between the Hotel and Time, or maybe it was more accurate to say they had been loyal since his novel Mobs, which was published six years later in 1982, a classic coming-of-age story, no less, but durable and entertaining, set in the 60s in Oslo, the book which marked his breakthrough both commercially and literarily, in that order, because to be honest. Mobs represented a rare moment when audience and critics were in agreement that for this novel, we may meet over a pint and pose the classic question: What in the world will happen to the main character? For a while, Jørgen Ribe was the name on everyone's lips, which is not necessarily a becoming place for an author."
«The Antagonist joins the rank of the very best books Lars Saabye Christensen has written.»
NETTAVISEN, six/six stars
The half sister to The Half Brother
«Lars Saabye Christensen always writes well, and sometimes – as here – he writes extremely well.»
ADRESSEAVISA, five/six stars
«It's a mystical story, and it's magically written.»
DAGBLADET, five/six stars
«Lars Saabye Christensen's The Antagonist appears as an impressive and intricate work, where remembrance and oblivion alternate as the protagonist.»
« From the first line, this unruly and rich novel is narrated maximally non-chronologically, a grinding, spinning work of excess, a Sarepta's jar of whims, digressions, fantasy constructions and loans from reality.»
«... a style and a way with words that belongs to the top shelf of what Norway has to offer.»
STAVANGER AFTENBLAD, five/six stars
«He dares to point out and show off. Repeats himself, and refers back to his own books. In fact, much of The Antagonist is a play with such references, a comparison between Saabye's catalogue and the characters in the book. It is an extremely self-aware book, which constantly points to the fact that literature is literature.»