Nominated by:

Wojewódzka Biblioteka Publiczna im. Marszałka Józefa Piłsudskiego w Łodzi, Poland

Publisher of nominated edition:

Other Press, USA

A Fairy Tale

Jonas T. Bengtsson    

Translated from the Danish by Charlotte Barslund

2016 Longlist

In a Europe without borders, where social norms have become fragile, a son must confront the sins of his father and grandfather, and invent new strategies for survival.

A young boy grows up with a loving father who has little respect for the law. They are always on the run, and as they move from place to place, the boy is often distraught to leave behind new friendships. Because it would be dicey for him to go to school, his anarchistic father gives him an unconventional education intended to contradict as much as possible the teachings of his own father, a preacher and a pervert. Ten years later, when the boy is entering adulthood, with a fake name and a monotonous job, he tries to conform to the demands of ordinary life, but the lessons of the past thwart his efforts, and questions about his father’s childhood cannot be left unanswered.

Spanning the mid-1980s to early-twenty-first-century in Copenhagen, this coming-of-age novel examines what it means to be a stranger in the modern world, and how, for better or for worse, a father’s legacy is never passed on in any predictable fashion.

(from publisher)

About the Author

Jonas T. Bengtsson has published two previous novels: his 2005 literary debut, Amina’s Letters, winner of the Danish Debutant Award and BG Bank First Book Award; and Submarino, the film adaptation of which took the 2010 Nordic Council Film Prize. He has also received the P.O. Enquist Literary Prize and was nominated for the Weekendavisens Literature Prize. He lives in Copenhagen.

Librarian’s Comments

A Fairy Tale is a story about the childhood shaped by the adult. The novel tells us how the grown old hands of a parent, just as the hands of a sculptor, using the chosen chisel, forge, grind and polish. It tells us that sometimes you cannot create yourself from the beginning, because the chisel has gone too far and you cannot change the once formed shaped. You can polish it, but still you will remain the son of your father.

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