Nominated by:

Stavanger Bibliotek, Norway

Publisher of nominated edition:

Atlantic Books, UK

Graywolf Press, USA

Before I Burn

Gaute Heivoll      

Translated from the original Norwegian by Don Bartlett

2015 Longlist

In the late 1970s, a pyromaniac runs amok in a close-knit community in rural Norway. Homes are burnt to a cinder, and panic spreads, as neighbours wonder who amongst them could be wreaking such fear and anguish. And slowly, ineluctably, a mother comes to realize that her son is lighting the fires.

Born into this time of chaos, Gaute Heivoll is indelibly linked to the arsonist who caused such destruction. By juxtaposing the pyromaniac’s story with his own, Heivoll explores memory, loss and the agonizing separation of child from parent that is a rite of passage for us all. Written in fluid, luminous prose, Before I Burn is a literary sensation, by the foremost Norwegian writer of his generation.

(From Publisher)

About the Author

Gaute Heivoll made his debut in 2002 with the prose collection Liten dansende gutt (Small Dancing Boy), and since then has written poetry, children’s books, short stories and novels. Heivoll was recipient of the 2003 Tiden-prisen Prize. In 2006 he was the Norwegian representative to the Literary Festival Project Scritture Giovanni and his short-story ‘Dr Gordeau’ was translated into English, German and Italian.

Librarian’s Comments

Before I Burn is an interesting combination of story based on real events and fiction. Excellently written and compelling, breathtakingly dark.

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