The Cocka Hola Company

The Cocka Hola Company

Scandinavian Misanthropy #1

The debut novel of young Norwegian writer Matias Faldbakken is a contemporary satire to end all satires. The Cocka Hola Company - Scandinavian Misanthropy I is the ferociously funny chronicle of a war against the welfare society and its underlying values. Relying on most people’s inherent hypocrisy and double standards, Simpel and his band of social misfits to stage a series of equally amusing and revealing assaults on middle-class norms. Not since the early sixties has the clown-mask been used to spit out such bitter truths about the human condition in modern-day Western civilisation.

Theatre rights: Stuttgarter Staatstheater, Germany

Reviews

  • The Cocka Hola Company is a bizarre experience ... it is highly unlikely that there will be any books quite like The Cocka Hola Company for some time.”

    Morten Abrahamsen, Verdens Gang, Norway

  • “One of the most sensational debut novels in 20 or 30 years.”

    Geir Verstad, Hamar Arbeiderblad, Norway

  • “Entertainment with a satirical sting and a well-structured, unimaginable story.”

    Elisabeth Solberg, Dagsavisen, Norway

  • “A book overflowing with obscenities, heavy drinking, drugs and sex, but more than anything else rapier-like wit, intelligence – and supreme linguistic flair. What you see is what you get, an uncommonly well written novel with coruscating (to use a royal expression) language with innumerable obscenities, many of them leaving nothing to the imagination. There is rhythm, pace and an extremely sophisticated romp with the time frame. The writer has above all a very special talent for portraying types and making events visual. For this tempestuous, well-observed, insane and hysterically funny novel is like a breath of fresh air – or more like a hurricane – at a time which can seem a little grey with the many academically bright debutants from writing schools.”

    Cathrine Kröger, Dagbladet, Norway

  • “Finally a sensual counterpart to Michel Houellebecq´s conservative book about relationships has shown up… there aren´t enough words of praise to shower on Faldbakken´s fiendishly funny novel.”

    Stephan Schlak, SZ, Germany

  • “…In a delicious phrase Faldbakken maintains: Every avant garde or subculture is forced to live in permanent opposition. You need publicity to be able to operate, but you also lose your enchantment if you don't stay away from that publicity. The publishing of Faldbakken´s own book is a shining example of this: After initially being characterized as 'scandal literature', The Cocka Hola Company became a best-seller in Norway! The author nonetheless possesses the necessary ironic disposition, which is also shown in this novel, not to fall into this trap. /.../ … something comparable you can only find in Stewart Home…. /.../ ...it´s strange: this novel, with its misanthropy and meanness, almost bursts at the seams with burlesque comedy.”

    Frank Schäfer, taz, Germany

  • “Two books have come out this year which do not accept the usual understanding of what the world is like, was like and how it is still going to be like for some time … And these two books are in fundamental opposition! A new German translation of Journey to the End of the Night by Louis-Ferdinand Céline… and the other is The Cocka Hola Company by Matias Faldbakken. /.../ …People are buying this book and evidently whoever starts reading it becomes more and more captivated by the affronts to humanity — with good intentions — and the Scandinavian misanthropy…. Strange people populate this novel, bad people with no respect for worthwhile values like solidarity or sympathy. The novel is about a small porno-producing company in the Norwegian capital. Happy porno actors, porno ideologues, families gone astray, misanthropes. Body instead of spirit, 'happiness' instead of thought. Us against the world. All of this is horrid, terribly disgusting, magnificent and entertaining. Toward the end it looks bad for Simpel (the protagonist). He ends up on a talk show. And everyone loves his misanthropy. Heartlessly, grimly his statements generate thunderous applause. He becomes a star! Just like his creator, Matias Faldbakken, with this great Bible of misanthropy.”

    Volker Weidermann, Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung, Germany

  • “What is obscene? The seemingly quite normal double standards of the prosperous citizens of a welfare state, who have made things comfortable for themselves with their self-realization projects and their make-the-world-a-better-place ideology and the "evils" they publicly denounce by day but which they themselves practice at night? Or the cynicism of the less educated or underprivileged, who use pornography to do lucrative business and thereby actively cultivate a hatred of the world? This skeptical question is thrown out by the young Norwegian artist and writer Matias Faldbakken (born in 1973) in his novel, which has achieved cult status. The title itself lays its cards on the table: The Cocka Hola Company - Scandinavian Misanthropy. The text deals with sex, lies and video, with joy, neuroses and anarchy, and is assuredly not intended to turn the reader into a lover of humanity. The thoroughly sexualized postmodern existence which Michel Houellebecq described in Competition to Death here gets a Norwegian expression: with ingredients of melancholy, alcohol and madly intelligent humor (and in a brilliant German translation by Hinrich Schmidt-Henkel), this reading, with all its loathsomeness, becomes bearable. /.../ Faldbakken´s effort is impudent, theatrical and utterly ironic; he presents a monstrously cynical world where the boundary between enlightened and critical awareness, intelligence and madness can scarcely be determined any more. Whether it be a matter of psycho-jargon or slang, euphoria or unpleasant humor, the author moves among styles and moods with virtuosity…. /.../ It may be that the book seems misanthropic and that it exaggerates real conditions; however, the questions raised strike directly at the heart of our time: What does it mean today to live a truthful life? Does an investment in self-realization mean that you abandon conventional attitudes? Or is there truth in denial; in the vulgarity and disillusionment that finds its expression in pornography? As Ritmeester says in the book, pornography is 'at least honorable.' There is no real life in what is false, Faldbakken demonstrates, and neither is there anything real in a false life.”

    Andrea Breitenstein, Neue Zürcher Zeitung, Germany

  • “Faldbakken tells the story of this group of people so unbelievably comically that upon reading it you immediately ‘get high on’ this misanthropic utopia! How filthy everything really is, is seldom shown so clearly as in this novel.”

    Raul Zelik, SPEX, Germany

  • “*The Cocka Hola Company *is actually one of the most impudent and wittiest books that has shown up in a long time. The choice of words is fresh (an advocate of high culture would no doubt say 'primitive') and the pornographic details are depicted without any piety whatsoever (the above-mentioned advocate of high culture would no doubt say 'tastelessly'). Matias Faldbakken doesn’t have much use for pretentious erotic literature… and he thereby succeeds in the rare feat of creating a literary work that is at the same time impudent and entertaining with high ambitions and expectations besides. With Matias Faldbakken, Irwin Welsh and **Michel Houellebecq's **type of literature has a Scandinavian variant in that arena.”

    Martin Brinkmann, Am Erker - Zeitschrift für Literatur, Germany

  • “The limits of rebellion. The Norwegian Matias Faldbakken has written a superb pop-novel. /…/ He narrates his story about the gang so humorously and refreshingly but at the same time so humanely that upon reading it you immediately become involved in his earnest indignation. /.../ … many thanks to the young German publisher Münchner Blumenbar Verlag… which with The Cocka Hola Company has once again published a magnificent novel, which has given meaning and content back to the somewhat tired concept of 'pop literature.'”

    Raul Zelik, Freitag, Germany

  • “The Norwegian author Matias Faldbakken’s first novel is by no means cynical but rather multi-faceted and insanely funny.”

    Glamour, Germany

  • “Unbridled and exuberantly comic, Faldbakken narrates his shady story and creates colorful, headstrong characters like the 'porno ideologue' Ritmeester, the badly brought-up seven-year-old Lonyl or the spineless, hot-tempered Simpel. Dizzying!”

    Rein, go München, Germany

  • “Where pornography is presented, it´s not always a question of pornography. Or in any case not what you expect. Faldbakken makes an irresistibly satiric reversal in The Cocka Hola Company. And it´s already completely frantic in the first chapter´s description of the making of a sex video. But that´s just the beginning… then comes insane comedy… Faldbakken has provided the new German publisher Münchner Blumenbar Verlag with a first-class debut novel. What a discovery!”

    Christian Mückl, Nürnberger Zeitung, Germany

  • “Faldbakken has a serious message behind his multi-faceted, comic figures: Modern man must find a free zone in order to find himself and thereby avoid sinking down into the muck of consumer society.”

    Pat, 20 Minuten, Switzerland

  • “It's an appalling but true world that Faldbakken depicts. The Cocka Hola Company is a subversive blow to the mechanism in which
    Faldbakken in the form of an artist (painter and author) must move. After the initial scandal the book became a best-seller in Scandinavia.”

    Style, Germany

  • “The heroes of The Cocka Hola Company are obsessed with sex and impotence, greedy or distant…”

    Prinz, Germany

  • “Young and wild, this Norwegian arrives boldly, ambiguously and for long stretches very comically, thereby allowing himself to be read in preference to many depictions of contemporary life which are promoted as significant.”

    Klaus Ungerer, Faz Feuilleton, Germany

Download all reviews
Author
Photo: #{publication.artist.imageByline}Matias Faldbakken
Published
2001
Genre
  • Literary
Pages
455
Reading material

English sample

German edition

Norwegian edition

Spanish edition

Rights sold

Germany, Heyne

Norway, Cappelen Damm

Film rights sold

Norway, FRILAND a/s

More from Matias Faldbakken

Scandinavian Misanthropy

Stand-alone