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 a great number of novels, collections of short stories as well as essay collections, and several books for children and young readers.
Over the span of his career, he has won numerous awards, including the Riverton Prize, the Brage Prize for Best Fiction, the Norwegian Booksellers’ Award and the Aschehoug Prize. Ingvar Ambjørnsen has been published in 30 countries. Several of his novels have successful films and theatre adaptions. The movie Elling, based on Ambjørnsen’s novels The Chicken Dance and Beyond the Great Indoors, was nominated to an Oscar in 2001. - The play Elling has appeared on stage in 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, White Trash (Hvite niggere), 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. A Vision of Paradise (Utsikt til paradiset) from 1993, The Chicken Dance (Fugledansen) from 1995, Beyond the Great Indoors (Brødre i blodet) from 1996 and Love Me Tomorrow (Elsk meg i morgen) from 1999 established Ambjørnsen as one of the most widely read Norwegian authors in the past few decades, with over half a million copies in print. Elling also made a popular come back with the books Echo of a Friend (Ekko av en venn) in 2019 and Yoko Ono is a Charlatan (Yoko Ono er en sjarlatan) in 2020.
Ambjørnsen introduced something entirely new with his books about Elling. 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. The books are entertaining, thought-provoking reads. Some reviewers has called Elling “the Norwegian Forest Gump”.
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 Death in Oslo Central Station (Døden på Oslo S) 1991.
The Brage Prize 1995 for The Bird Dance (Fugledansen).
The Booksellers' Prize 1996 for Beyond the Great Indoors (Brødre i blodet).
Oslo City Cultural Prize 2001.
Anders Jahre's Cultural Prize 2004.
The Salvation Army's Booth Prize 2004.
The Willy Brandt-Prize 2012.
The Aschehoug Prize 2023.
The Honorary Brage Prize 2023.