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Echoes of the City

Paperback / ISBN-13: 9780857059154

Price: £14.99

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A jewel of modern Norwegian literature now hailed as Lars Saabye Christensen’s crowning achievement – an intricate and utterly compelling narrative.

“With its tonal nuance and quietly amusing melancholy, Echoes of the City confirms him as one of Norway’s finest writers” Guardian

“[A] profoundly resonant novel” T.L.S.

Christensen is one of Scandinavia’s finest and most celebrated storytellers, who has devoted the best part of his career to writing about the city of his birth. As Oslo slowly emerges from a period of crippling austerity, Echoes of the City shows how small, almost imperceptible acts of kindness and compassion, and tiny shifts in fortune, can change the lives of many.

At the centre of the novel are Maj and Ewald Kristoffersen and their son Jesper, their lives closely entwined and overlapping with their neighbours’ on Kirkeveien. When the butcher’s son Jostein is knocked down in a traffic accident and loses his hearing, Jesper promises to be his ears in the world. The arrival of a long-awaited telephone is a major event for Maj and Ewald, and meanwhile their neighbour, recently widowed Fru Vik, tentatively takes up with the owner of the bookshop near the cemetery. The bar at Hotel Bristol becomes a meeting place for all of them – for Ewald and his advertising colleagues, for Fru Vik and her suitor, to the piano playing of hapless Enzo Zanetti, an immigrant down on his luck, who enables Jesper to discover his true passion.

The minutes of the local Red Cross meetings give an architecture to the narrative of so many lives and tell a story in themselves, bearing witness to the steady recovery of the community. Echoes of the City is a remarkably tender observation of the rhythms and passions of a city, and a particular salute to the resilience of its women.

Translated from the Norwegian by Don Bartlett


A portrait formulated with the poetic melancholy so typical of Saabye Christensen at his best.
Lars Saabye Christensen at the height of his powers.
The kind of novel that does not shout loudly, but is borne along by fine characterisation and wisdom disguised as sparkling gold grains, consolidating Lars Saabye Christensen's position as Oslo's premier home-town poet
"Memory is sorrow. History is reconciliation." These are the last words in the author's own voice that we read. This profoundly resonant novel - which ends in 1951, with more to come - invites us to ponder these ideas afresh.
Paul Binding, Times Literary Supplement
With its tonal nuance and quietly amusing melancholy, Echoes of the City confirms him as one of Norway's finest writers"
Will Forrester, Guardian
A poignant meditation on memory, on finding one's place in the world, on family ties, loss and heartbreak . . . We are easily drawn into their lives and by the end it is hard to part with these characters who we have come to know so well.
Lucy Popescu, London Magazine