Norwegian SFT: Knut Faldbakken


Twilight Country (Twilight Country #1), translated by Joan Tate (Dufour Editions, 1993).

“A dark, end-of-the-millennium vision permeates this novel by Norwegian author Faldbakken. Fleeing from the collapsing economic, social and legal systems of Sweetwater, a dystopian city in an unnamed country, former architect Allan Ung takes his teenage wife, Lisa, and their four-year-old son, Boy, to live in the Dump, a garbage disposal site that now houses an assortment of refugees from this dying society. Among them are Doc, a back-to-the-land idealist; his arthritic wife, who despises him for the life they are forced to lead; the outlaw brothers Felix and Run-Run; Mary Diamond and her alcoholic pimp/boyfriend Smiley. The mute Run-Run and Boy develop a close friendship, Allan and Mary become lovers and Doc regards Lisa with a paternal eye, especially after her pregnancy is revealed. The author pessimistically suggests that these self-proclaimed outcasts can never create a better society, but his narrative, which shows the loose tribe enduring if not flourishing, implies at least a Darwinian survival of the fittest.” – Publisher’s Weekly



Sweetwater (Twilight Country #2), translated by Joan Tate (Dufour Editions, 1994).

“Post-apocalyptic literary fiction has gone somewhat out of fashion in recent years but, then, Faldbakken’s grim, effective sequel to Twilight Country (published in the U.S. in 1993) was written in 1976 and posits an unusual kind of disaster scenario: one that imagines a future society bent on reform and economic recovery but collapsing into decay because of a lack of resources and energy. Jonathan Bean is a cop in an unnamed country who’s kidnapped by a ragtag band of outlaws when he goes looking for his murdered brother in a blighted section of the city of Sweetwater. Bean initially resists the efforts of his captors to break him down, but eventually his will and determination weaken and he becomes a dependent member of the outlaw group. Meanwhile, factionalism abounds both within the group and in the city at large; when the urban breakdown degenerates into a de facto civil war between the police and the army, the outlaws are forced to leave their garbage-ridden hovel. Faldbakken is a sound storyteller, avoiding cliche through solid interior characterization, unexpected plot twists and gut-wrenching survivalist details. At times, his political allegory gets a bit heavy-handed but, overall, this is a fine resolution to a work that should enhance not only the author’s reputation but that of modern Norwegian fiction.”- Publisher’s Weekly

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