Ingeborg Arvola's bestselling, award-winning breakthrough novel The Knife in the Fire (Kniven i Ilden) came out in Sweden this month, and critics are singing its praises. The Swedish edition is published by Albert Bonniers Förlag, translated by Marianne Mattsson, and the gorgeous cover is by Michael Ceken.
Arvola writes a bygone world out of oblivion, a Scandinavian Wild West where life was hard and death quick. It is not difficult to understand why 'The Knife in the Fire' has received so much praise. In the novel there is a hard-to-define energy that inspires confidence in art as well as life. It radiates not only from the exceptional character of the protagonist but also from the very language of the book.
It is not difficult to understand that Arvola was awarded the Brage Prize, Norway's highest literary award, for this novel. It is a fascinating portrait of people's lives in an area during a time rarely described in literature.
I am totally blown away by the power of the portrayal and without a doubt name this one of the greatest reading experiences of 2024, even though the year is only a few weeks old! ... [U]nforgettable and impressive. Ingeborg Arvola received the 2022 Norwegian Brage Award for the masterpiece. An excellent choice!
It is a beautiful book with a poetic, soaring language ... a both painful and life-giving experience.
It is with great empathy that Ingeborg Arvola puts Brita Caisa and her sons on a pair of skis and sends them out in search of a new life... I salute Marianne Mattsson, who must have struggled with the translation of a prose that wanted to maintain a linguistic tradition, where, for example, the same person can have three different names.
Besides the figure of Brita Caisa Seipajærvi, who both fascinates and frustrates, it is the insight into a world that is new to me that is the biggest takeaway from 'The Knife in the Fire'. The northern Norwegian Finnmark, which I have never visited in reality, and neither can I remember travelling there via literature’s travel agency. Ingeborg Arvola succeeds in portraying both the magnificent and the challenging life that characterizes the place. The story teems like the cod in the sea off the coast.
Arvola creates a strong presence with her intense snapshots of work and togetherness with people living in the grip of nature and chance. Poetry flows through the brutal narrative while dreams turn to dust and Brita and Mikko walk towards the abyss. But the last word about them has not been said. A trilogy is promised. As a reader, you are hooked. You want to know how it goes for these tightly drawn people, drawn into a vortex of emotions and events.