Nominated by:

Openbare Bibliotheek Brugge, Belgium

Publisher of nominated edition:

Maclehose Press, UK

The Sixteen Trees of the Somme

Lars Mytting      

Translated from the original Norwegian by Paul Russell Garrett

Edvard grows up on a remote mountain farmstead in Norway with his taciturn grandfather, Sverre. The death of his parents, when he was three years old, has always been shrouded in mystery – he has never been told how or where it took place and has only a distant memory of his mother.

And the story of his grandfather’s late brother, Einar, is somehow bound up with this mystery. A coffin is delivered long before his grandfather’s death – a meticulous, art-deco piece made of flame birch, with the hallmark of a master craftsman. Perhaps Einar is not dead after all.

Edvard’s desperate quest to unlock the  tragic secrets of two families takes him on a long journey, following a trail of clues from Norway to the Shetlands and to the battlefields of France. Navigation divided wartime allegiances and the love of two women, he is ultimately led to the discovery of a very unusual inheritance.

The Sixteen Trees of the Somme is a beautifully intricate, moving, century-spanning tale about a fascination with wood, about love, and about finding out who you really are.

About the author

Lars Mytting, a novelist and journalist, was born in Fåvang, Norway, in 1968. He is the author of Norwegian Wood: Chopping, Stacking and Drying Wood the Scandinavian Way, which has become an international bestseller and was the Bookseller Industry Awards Non-Fiction Book of the Year in 2016. His novel Svøm med dem som drukner (The Sixteen Trees of the Somme) was awarded the Norwegian National Booksellers’ Award and has been bought for film.

About the translator

Paul Russell Garrett is a translator from Danish and Norwegian of novels, plays and books for children. He is also Programme Director for a new theatre translation initiavive, [Foreign Affairs] Translates!

Librarians’ comments

In this cleverly plotted novel we discover a family tree farm in Norway. When his grandfather dies, Evard wants to unravel the mystery surrounding his parents’ death. The key: sixteen ancient walnut trees coloured by poison gas of the First World War. The novel peels like an onion, has beautiful characters and is set in an untamed environment, smart and expressive writing along with appealing themes of revenge, forgiveness and loneliness.

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