The setting for this Norwegian bestseller, translated by Don Bartlett and Don Shaw and now shortlisted for the International Man Booker prize, is a speck of rock off Norway’s coast at the start of the 20th century. Barrøy is a world entire for the one family who live there: it is scoured by storms and at the mercy of the sea that both provides a living and brings so much death, but is seemingly eternal, and seemingly theirs... This is 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.
The Unseen are the Barrøys, a three-generation Norwegian family who live on their own island. Occasionally the priest drops by, sometimes a man comes to buy their produce; otherwise they are undisturbed. Sparse, sublime prose distils this life along with the elements. The subtle translation, with its invented dialect, conveys a timeless, provincial voice... Shortlisted for the Man Booker International prize, The Unseen is a blunt, brilliant book.
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. His genius is being able to make a reader laugh and cry and, most important of all, to feel more human... But 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.