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Kjell Askildsen

Kjell Askildsen (b. 1929) is widely recognized as one of the preeminent Norwegian writers of the twentieth century and among the greatest short-story authors of all time. He entered the literary scene in 1953 with the collection of short stories From Now on I’ll Take You All the Way Home, which received glittering reviews in the Oslo press, but was banished from the library in his home town, for immorality. It was not until 1987, after the publication of A Sudden Liberating Thought, did he receive critical acclaim.

Mardon’s Night

Kjell Askildsen published his first collection of stories in 1953. This month, Archipelago Books publishes Everything Like Before, a career-spanning collection from the 91-year-old Norwegian writer. Themes remain remarkably consistent throughout the work: absence, family, memory, and uncertainty. The sensory experience reminds me most of a long still in a Tarkovsky film, maybe a few photographs submerged in a murky stream. The story selected here, “Mardon’s Night,” exemplifies the movement of all relationships, the ebb and flow in the very act of relating, and how our interpretation of another’s subjectivity moves gently, easing its way to understanding. The result is a masterful representation of consciousness.

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The Brooklyn Rail

MAY 2021

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