Nominated by:

Sølvberget, Stavanger bibliotek og kulturhus, Norway

Publisher of nominated edition:

MacLehose Press, UK

The Unseen

Roy Jacobsen    

Translated from the Norwegian by Don Bartlett and Don Shaw

Nobody can leave an island. An island is a cosmos in a nutshell, where the stars slumber in the grass beneath the snow. But occasionally someone tries . . .

Ingrid Barrøy is born on an island that bears her name – a holdfast for a single family, their livestock, their crops, their hopes and dreams.

Her father dreams of building a quay that will connect them to the mainland, but closer ties to the wider world come at a price. Her mother has her own dreams – more children, a smaller island, a different life – and there is one question Ingrid must never ask her.

Island life is hard, a living scratched from the dirt or trawled from the sea, so when Ingrid comes of age, she is sent to the mainland to work for one of the wealthy families on the coast.

But Norway too is waking up to a wider world, a modern world that is capricious and can be cruel. Tragedy strikes, and Ingrid must fight to protect the home she thought she had left behind.

About the author

Roy Jacobsen has twice been nominated for the Nordic Council’s Literary Award: for Seierherrene in 1991, and Frost in 2003, and in 2009 he was shortlisted for the Dublin Impac Award for his novel The Burnt-Out Town of Miracles. The Unseen was Shortlisted for the Man Booker International Prize 2017.

(from publisher)

Librarian’s comments

A reminder that it’s not that long ago our forefathers were unbearably poor and struggling to stay alive. This is a family history with gorgeous arctic nature depictions and beautiful poetic prose in every sentence.

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