Matias Faldbakken (b. 1973) is one of Norway’s most critically acclaimed visual artists and writers. He is represented by some of the best contemporary art galleries in the world, including Paula Cooper Gallery (New York), Simon Lee Gallery (London), Galerie Eva Presenhuber (Zürich), Galerie NEU (Berlin) and Standard (Oslo). Matias Faldbakken is the author of the highly successful Scandinavian Misanthropy trilogy, written under the pen-name Abo Rasul and hailed as one of the most exciting and original literary projects in contemporary Scandinavian fiction. The Hills is Faldbakken’s first novel in nine years and the very first he writes under his own name.
Matias Faldbakken’s The Hills has been shortlisted for the Brage Prize, handed out by the Norwegian Publishers Association, as one of four nominees in the ‘Fiction’ category. The prize, named after the Norwegian god of writing, has established itself as Norway’s most prestigious literary award since its inception 25 years ago.
The judges have the following to say about The Hills: A novel with a warm sense of humor, effortless elegance, and a playful and disarming feeling of nostalgia. As a whole, it sharply distinguishes itself through its charming play on traditions. But there are darker elements beneath the surface, which give the seemingly playful novel both seriousness and gravitas.
The winner of the 2017 Brage Prize will be announced on November 21st.
The restaurant The Hills stands at the center of Matias Faldbakken’s new novel, a story of waiters and regulars, chandeliers and cloakroom attendants, mezzanines and storage cellars, bar managers and in-house pianists. It’s a continental interior that greets the visitor as they enter the premises, a downtrodden mosaic of concentric circles on the floor and walls covered in portraits, drawings, paintings and stamps. The one who guides the reader through this landscape is a waiter at the establishment, a veteran of thirteen years. With utter discretion and a complete knowledge of all that goes on in his domain, he is the eyes and ears of the novel.
The ideas and ambience of old Europe are carefully guarded at the run-down restaurant. A well-established order wherein everything has its place rules, and little to nothing of the outside world intrudes. Until the threat of unrest and change comes anyway, in the innocuous form of a young woman quietly taking a seat among the regulars.
The Hills is an unexpected, smart and entertaining novel about collapsing structures and a world caught somewhere between diligence and decay. Matias Faldbakken possesses a rare talent for observation and an uncompromising eye for detail and humor as he pushes the performances of the novel to the point of absurdity, and does so in a manner that evokes a sense of unease as well as gravity.