Sheldon Horowitz - 82 years old, impatient, and unreasonable - is staying with his granddaughter's family in Norway when he disappears with a stranger's child. Sheldon is an ex-Marine, and he feels responsible for his son's death in Vietnam. Recently widowed and bereft, he talks to the ghosts of his past constantly.
To Norway's cops, Sheldon is just an old man who is coming undone at the end of a long and hard life. But Sheldon is clear in his own mind. He'd heard the boy's eastern European mother being murdered, and he's determined to protect the child from the killer and his Balkan gang. With an endearing combination of dexterity and daring, Sheldon manages to elude the police in what is hostile, foreign territory for him. But what he doesn't know is that the police and the gang both know where he's heading.
Norwegian by Night is the last adventure of a man coming to terms with the tragedy of his own life as he tries to save another's. It combines laconic, deadpan humour, moral seriousness, visceral grief, and narrative tensions in a remarkable way - and Sheldon, in particular, is about to become a famous fictional hero.
©2012 Derek B. Miller (P)2013 Bolinda Publishing Pty Ltd
"Norwegian by Night ‘may just be the Australian publishing coup of the decade, for this is a very powerful novel indeed, and Sheldon Horowitz is an absolutely unforgettable hero....A novel that will last and, soon enough, will be added to that canon of those finer works that transcend mere genre." (Jonathan Dawson, Sunday Tasmanian)
"To say this is an enigmatic read would be the understatement of the season." (Courier Mail)
I work to keep my reviews free of plot spoilers. I hate reviews that tell you the whole story. That said, I do love reading reviews!
I want to be very careful with my review so that I don't say too much and ruin the story if you haven't read it yet. This book is so powerful and fascinating in its depth and complexity that it needs to be experienced with an open mind and no preconceived ideas. Just let the story sweep you up and guide you through the labyrinth the author has created. The wry humor made me laugh out loud in several parts. The beautiful writing allows the reader to experience first hand the characters' interior thoughts, perceptions, and frames of reference. It focuses on ideas of war, nationalism, double standards and hind sight. A mediation on memory, meaning and how the things we are taught in life form who we are and dictate our actions. Amazing characters are brought expertly to life.
The narration started out sounding a bit like that announcer from the TV show The Twilight Zone long ago. As the reading progressed it smoothed out and improved. I think overall Sean Morgan did a fantastic job.
To me this was a page turner, a thriller, and a mystery filled with edge of your seat suspense. But much more than all of those things it made me think and it was a fantastic book. Glad I didn't miss this one!
It took a while to sort out the story, for my ears to recognize and understand the shifts in time and voice. The complexity of the telling is integral to the story. Once my ears became accustomed I was able to follow the scrambled tale of extraordinary events taking place.
I am so glad I hung in there. This is one of the best books to which I've listened. This is an exceptionally gifted author.
Sheldon can be described as; elderly, Jewish, a New Yorker, a Korean war vet and a decent man with early dementia. Lead characters don't get more interesting or complicated than that. This book is worth a listen.
I am not a fan of mysteries and thrillers. But my husband is and so I chose it for us to listen to while driving on vacation. Glad I did. Sheldon is this wonderful, old, grumpy, Greatest Generation guy, a fish out of water in cold, dark, gentile Norway. He is Jewish down to his kishkes, not in a religious, go to synagogue way, but in the wrestling with God, justice shall you pursue way. And when he has his chance to heal a little part of the world (and himself), he grabs it without hesitation. A wonderful, insightful, gripping book.
There is nothing to recommend this book. There is zero suspense, the advertised humour is entirely absent and nothing that happens is remotely believable.
Chosen a different book to read.
It's not even worth answering this question.
I strongly advise anyone interested in suspenseful, engaging and exciting books with believable characters and plotlines to AVOID this book.
I really enjoyed this well written story, and as an aside learning lots about Norway during the read. I liked not second guessing the plot though it's a straight forward thriller but with flash backs to the Vietnam and Korean wars and Sarajevo. I really enjoyed the old man, whose body and mind are failing him, our tainted hero. The narrative arc from Norway to America, during a chase through Norwegian countryside, is not forced. The characters are well fleshed and I enjoyed the reveals throughout the novel creating even more fully established characterisations. This is not your usual thriller, this has more depth and for a first novel, which I believe it is, it is really rather good.
"You will make excuses to keep listening."
The main character.
The main character, his depth. I loved him.
The ending was a disappointment at first. I was a bit underwhelmed. However, with hindsight I was actually delighted with it. The story took my hand, led me down the garden path and then slammed the gate in my face.
"Captivating on all fronts"
Sheldon Horowitz, a Jewish American veteran of the Korean war, lives a tranquil life in the company of his grand-daughter Rhea and her Norwegian husband, Lars. Quiet Oslo, into which he has been absorbed, distant from his traumatic past. [Every now and again we hear mention of the Literaturhuset - a great place to spend hours poring over books (English and Norwegian), hearing a talk or sharing a coffee if you ever ARE in Oslo].
Sheldon, much loved and ageing, is still traumatised by his own war experience and the loss of his son in the Vietnam war. He is constantly struck by what it means to be a Jew in a country which barely knows his people, and in many ways denied complicity with the Nazi occupation and the extermination of more than a third of the tiny Jewish population of just over 2000 people. Sheldon is difficult, obstinate, good humoured and lovable - not necessarily all at the same time...
Their lives are intersected by another divided and traumatised group - both victims and perpetrators among them - Albanian Kosovars, Serbs and others from former Yugoslavia taken into Norway as refugees. Gender, divided loyalties, crime, prior roles and massacres in an ethnic war, influence their violent interactions.
The third group of actors are the Norwegians themselves, represented by sensible but somewhat boring Lars; Sigrid the police commander succesfully breaking the glass ceiling yet still dependant on her father for advice and her not very able male colleagues; and a bunch of simple-minded and ineffectual recreational hunters.
Sigrid is faced with solving a murder, finding and rescuing a young boy, and interpreting Sheldon's behaviour - noble, at times misplaced, and always programmed by memory, experience, trauma and guilt.
Sheldon is always at the centre of this simultaneously incredible but credible story. A delightful book, full of surprises, wit, and wise asides.
A great story, beautifully told, enthralling and inspiring.
"Gripping story with an unexpected ending"
The story contains so many different elements - crime, religion and cultural background, flashbacks, sadness, love, humour. It is a real "page-turner", or whatever the audio equivalent of that is. It is easy to take sides for or against the various lead characters, and almost live their stories with them.
Sheldon - a man in a foreign country, suspected of losing his mind, not blessed with a great deal of tact, but still determined to see right prevail.
Some of the characters were easy to distinguish, but others were harder to separate either from other characters or the narrator's 'normal' no-character voice. I felt some of the narrative could have done with a more gentle delivery - rather a lot of the narration is spoken in the same rhythm and spacing (and audible breathing) as Sheldon's character.
Many of the moments when Sheldon and the boy are doing illegal or just silly things together, but the first 'wet' moment in the cupboard is especially moving.
The ending seems a bit sudden, and as other reviewers have said, leaves you slightly unsatisfied, but after a while you sort of understand why it finishes like it does. This is a superb book, and as someone with some experience of Norway, I found the places and the people (and their outlook on life) were accurately brought to life through the story. A disturbing listen in places, but well worth it.
"The book is acceptable but the END....."
The end! The book ends with a number of unanswered questions and improbable (if not impossible) events.
No, it is a book that doesn't give anything to the reader/listener. It is not a bad experience to listen to it, but after doing that you ask yourself: what was the point?
It was my first book and probably the last.
It could be a movie because there is some action here and there, as well as a number of interesting flashbacks. But it will not be an Oscar winner. Clint Eastwood could perform as Sheldon.
"Entertaining and Well Constructed"
I enjoyed this book, particularly the Norwegian setting. The characters were sketched fairly well although not all of them were really three-dimensional.
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