Yesterday at the Brage Prize award ceremony, our authors took home three of five Brage statues. Gro Dahle received the Honorary Award, Ingeborg Arvola won Best Work of Fiction with The Knife in the Fire, and the Non-fiction prize went to Trygve Riise Gundersen’s The Haugeans.
Ingeborg Arvola won the Brage Prize for Best Work of Fiction with The Knife in the Fire
This autumn, after more than twenty years as an author, Ingeborg Arvola has had her big breakthrough with the first book in the trilogy Ruijan rannalla – Songs from the Arctic Ocean. It has received rave reviews, spent 16 weeks on the best seller list, and it was also nominated to the Bookseller’s Award. The Knife in the Fire has now won one of the most prestigious awards in all of Norwegian Literature: the Brage Prize for best work of fiction.
The jury’s statement:
Ingeborg Arvola takes us to a landscape in the distant north, far into the open mountain plateau.
The year is 1859. Brita Caisa wishes to start her life over and leaves home to find happiness. With her are her two sons, born out of wedlock and to different fathers. The goal of the journey is Bugøynes, where the sea is said to be boiling with fish. And so begins the historic trilogy about Brita Caisa Seipajærvi, which has been given the name Ruijan rannalla – Songs from the Arctic Ocean.
The novel revolves around the illegal and passionate relationship between Brita Caisa and Mikkel Aska, a married man. In some chapters the author slows down the pace of the novel. Here, the reader feels the forces of nature at work, and the novel masterfully displays how humans adapt to the seasons and to nature. The novel balances what is rough and hard in nature and life with the tender and gentle in the love between Brita and Mikkel. Both the nature and the romantic relationship is described with an intensity that pulls the reader into the story, the people and the landscape. The reader is quickly fascinated by Brita Caisa and her multifaceted personality. She wrestles with the norms of society and is not scared to take up space. The main character is based on the author’s great-great-grandmother. Arvola shines a light on the Kven and Sami cultures, giving us a unique image of a history which should be given more space in our collective memory.
The Haugeans won Best Non-fiction
The Haugeans was published to unanimous critical acclaim, with the reviewers giving Riiser Gundersen full score on the ratings and named the novel a ‘masterpiece’, ‘grand and impressive’ and an ‘outstanding piece of storytelling’. The book dives into the Haugean movement and the leader, preacher Hans Nielsen Hauge, who are are revered as established heroes in Norwegian history. The Haugeans is a new interpretation of one of the most important phenomena in Norwegian history. But also, an entirely new image of Norway before 1814 – a society characterized by turmoil, oppression, change and resistance.
Riiser Gundersen’s story of the Haugeans impresses as a detail-oriented idea- and cultural-historic portrayal of the relationship between the political system and the opposing voices in Danmark-Norway around 1800. More than a biography about the inner mission's decorative figure, the book is an innovative history of Norway which gives a thorough analysis of how and why the Christian layman’s rebel movement emerged.
The author opens by reflecting over Hans Nielsen Hauge’s changes from travelling preacher to enemy number 1 of the state to a nation -builder with an almost saint-like status. Riiser Gundersen places Hauge in his time and writes about the Danish-Norwegian society’s political and religious lines of conflict in the breaking time between autocracy and popularisation. Riiser Gundersen combines close reading of an extensive source material with an engaging writing style. Although the brick format, note apparatus, reading list, timeline and person registry rightly signal a solid textbook, the author’s linguistic telling of The Haugeans makes it read like a political thriller. The breaking times, the rebel forces and the popularisation of society is brought to life as a grand epos on the movie screen. In this way, he is able to make this important period in Norwegian history accessible and up to date for a wide audience.
Gro Dahle received Brage’s Honorary award for her distinguished authorship
To standing ovation and roaring applause, Gro Dahle received the Honorary Award at yesterday’s Bragepris ceremony. The prize is awarded to a person or institution which through their power as an author, translator or other role has contributed to the width or understanding of literature in Norway, or to strengthen the quality of our written culture. Gro Dahle has written more than 60 books and has been through almost every literary genre. She is an esteemed poet, novelist and children’s author.
The jury’s statement:
This year’s winner of the Honorary Award has made herself known through many genres, from poetry to novels to plays, from realism to science fiction, and from fiction for adults to picture books for children.
This year’s winner is an author who gladly shares her knowledge, and for decades has been an expert teacher in the writing field, to inspiration for new generations of authors. Those of us who have seen the winner perform knows she has a natural stage presence, and a joy that it is hard not to be infected by.
On the field of children’s books, where the author debuted 30 years ago, the winner has been, and is, a brave and ground-breaking voice, not afraid of taboos and the unmentionable, a source for debate and controversy, but also universally praised as one who dares speak where others stay silent.
Because this year’s winner of the Honorary Award has the ability to tackle delicate topics with warmth and care, through a child’s wondering gaze, and on the child’s own premise. As the author herself has said: “I realised that picture books don’t have to be good night stories in bed, but that they can be a waking up story that makes you want to discuss the topics.”
The poetry has always been central in the winner’s authorship. Often called naïve in form, but which always resonates deeply and has an existential claw. Her poems are read, shared, used.
The winner has also gathered her closest in what can perhaps be called a family business, a close collaboration with both husband and daughter, who both deserve praise for bringing the winner’s books to life through their distinct and expressive illustrations.
It is a great joy to give this year’s Honorary award to a unique author – Gro Dahle.
Huge congratulations to Ingeborg, Trygve and Gro! And to Bjørn F. Rørvik and Per Dybvig (ill.) who were nominated in the children’s book category for Grisaldo, and to Peder Samdal who was nominated for children’s non-fiction with More than a club.