The Unseen (Paperback)
  • The Unseen (Paperback)

The Unseen (Paperback)

(author), (translator), (translator)
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Paperback 272 Pages / Published: 15/05/2017
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Shortlisted for the Man Booker International Prize 2017

Everything of value on an island comes from outside, except for the earth, but the islanders are not here because of the earth, of this they are painfully aware.

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 Barroy 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.

The novel resounds with humanity and laconic humour. Jacobsen, born in 1954, is a rare artist with an innate tone as wry as his observations are profound.- The Irish Times

The Man Booker International Prize judges comment: ‘A flawless portrait of family life in a remote island setting, where generations of untroubled isolation are newly threatened by change. In detailed, quietly gripping prose, writer Roy Jacobsen and translators Don Bartlett and Don Shaw use a small canvas to tell a great,  universal story.'

Roy Jacobsen has twice been nominated for the Nordic Council’s Literary Award: for Seierherrene in 1991 and Frost in 2003. In 2009 he was shortlisted for the Dublin Impac Award for his novel The Burnt-Out Town of Miracles. He was born in Oslo in 1961, where he currently resides. 

Don Bartlett lives in Norfolk, UK and works as a freelance translator of Scandinavian literature. He has translated, or co-translated, Norwegian novels by Karl Ove Knausgård, Lars Saabye Christensen, Roy Jacobsen, Ingvar Ambjornsen, Kjell Ola Dahl, Gunnar Staalesen, Pernille Rygg, and Jo Nesbo.

Don Shaw is a teacher of Danish and author of the standard Danish–Thai/Thai–Danish dictionaries. He has worked with Don Bartlett on translating Erland Loe. 

Publisher: Quercus Publishing
ISBN: 9781848666108
Number of pages: 272
Weight: 194 g
Dimensions: 203 x 151 x 18 mm

Even by his high standards, his magnificent new novel The Unseen is Jacobsen's finest to date, as blunt as it is subtle and is easily among the best books I have ever read. -- Eileen Battersby * Irish Times. *
A beautifully crafted novel . . . Quite simply a brilliant piece of work . . . Rendered beautifully into English by Don Bartlett and Don Shaw, The Unseen is a towering achievement that would be a deserved Booker International winner. -- Charlie Connolly * New European. *
A profound interrogation of freedom and fate, as well as a fascinating portrait of a vanished time, written in prose as clear and washed clean as the world after a storm. -- Justine Jordan * Guardian. *
The subtle translation, with its invented dialect, conveys a timeless, provincial voice . . . The Unseen is a blunt, brilliant book. -- Tom Graham * Financial Times. *
A modern masterpiece . . . A central novel in Norwegian literature. * Klassekampen. *
This is simply a beautiful and moving read . . . A master's hand turning the small into the great. * V.G. *
Roy Jacobsen at his very best . . . A fantastic novel. * Dagbladet. *
Jacobsen's lyrical voice has been gorgeously translated into English by Don Bartlett and Don Shaw -- Misha Hoekstra * The Riveter *
This beautifully atmospheric novel, set on a small island off Norway, where weather and the power of the sea shape lives, is a compelling story of one family, generations of which have lived on the island that bears the family name. -- Books of the Year * Glasgow Herald. *
A beautiful and rich depiction of place and of family life . . . an outstanding achievement. * New European, Books of the Year. *

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“Absolutely stunning”

I received a free copy of this book from Net Galley in exchange for an honest review.
Having just finished The Unseen I can fully understand why it was shortlisted for the Man Booker International Prize 2017. This... More

Paperback edition
Helpful? Upvote 51
Georgie Matthews at Windsor

“Stunningly beautiful tale of family and island life. Melancholic, quiet, pensive.”

Life on the tiny Norwegian island of Barrøy is hard. The island’s family lives in solitude, isolated from the rest of the world. Weathered by constant waves and storms, the island is hard, graceful and beautiful.... More

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