Da vi var yngre

Da vi var yngre Back in the Day

They’re young, filled with angst, pills, hope and love. The parents are powerless, the police are hated, and the child welfare has no control. Ivor and his best friends Marco, Jonas and Arjan are sixteen years old, live right in the middle a modern-day city, and fall deeper and deeper down into a world of intoxication, violence and criminality. But beyond that, there’s friendship, laughter, love, the yearning for grandparents and an unbreakable bond between young men.

Back in the Day is a novel about friendship and hope, about growing up too fast, and longing for what you’ve never
had. We follow the boys’ day-to-day life through notes and longer passages where Ivor lets his thoughts and feelings flow throughout the pages. It is a raw story stemming from the urgency of our contemporary city life, characterized by violence and criminality, as well as by warmth and love.

Back in the Day is Oliver Lovrenski’s literary debut; a raw coming-of-age novel from a modern city.



The Oslo City Artist Prize Norway 2024
Shortlisted for Tarjei Vesaas’ debutant prize Norway 2024
Shortlisted for Norwegian Radio’s Literary Award (Book of the year) Norway 2023
The Norwegian Bookseller's Prize (Book of the Year) Norway 2023
Shortlisted for Brage Prize (Best fiction of the year) Norway 2023
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  • “I can’t recall seeing a debutant receive the kind of attention that Oliver Lovrenski has garnered in a very, very long time. And it’s completely deserved. /…/ What a scorcher of a debut novel! The 19-year-old Lovrenski has burst onto the scene, into bookstores, and into the hearts of readers with tremendous force.”

    Verdens Gang, Norway

  • “The novel is inspired by Lovrenski’s own life. It is strong, humorous, tender, and heartfelt. Lovrenski, who is still a teenager himself, displays immense literary talent with his impressive creativity, linguistic genius, and the ability to captivate the reader from the very first sentence. Back in the Day is a fantastic contemporary literature from an authentic voice that truly knows what he’s talking about. It’s a novel that’s hard to put down and hard to forget. A novel you simply fall in love with.”

    Brage Prize Jury, Norway

  • “A thunderous debut from the edge of the abyss. /…/ Lovrenski displays an extremely receptive capacity for absorption and writes at an energy level rarely seen in contemporary Norwegian literature. /…/ The result is nothing less than an exceptionally exciting debut from a remarkable talent.”

    Dagens Næringsliv, Norway

  • “/…/ The linguistic style in Back in the Day is chaotic, direct, colloquial, and, not least, very effective. /…/ the jargon between [the caracters], especially in the first half of the book, causes constant bursts of laughter while reading. /…/ It’s absolutely incredible how Lovrenski manages to depict an entire life of violence in a chapter of just under eight lines. /…/ Lovrenski crafts a multifaceted story with complex characters using remarkably few words. Several of the texts are so rich in undertones that they appear more like poetry than chapters in a novel. Back in the Day is a coming-of-age portrayal that truly affects you. It’s simply an outstanding debut. ”


    VG, Norway

  • “Like Lars Saabye Christensen’s Beatles for a new generation, this is a novel that captures a time in life, in history, and leaves a deep impression on the reader”

    Vårt Land, Norway

  • “The style is frenetic, as befits the lives it describes, but hypnotic rather than exhausting. /…/ Back in the Day can become the kind of novel that the publishing industry so restlessly hunts for: one that makes young men sit down and read. ”


    Bok 365, Norway

  • “Sometimes a book reviewer is blown away…  Debut novels like Oliver Lovrenski’s Back in the Day are few and far between. With its unique language and its strong universe, [Oliver Lovrenski] delivers a novel that is simply excellent. /…/ Lovrenski convincingly portrays the harsh dark side. And at the same time, he shows how bright the sunshine can be, which challenged some prejudices, at least those I’ve had. /…/ Lovrenski mixes in several languages and dances around with them.”

    Dag og Tid, Norway

  • “Much of what happens in Back in the Day happens in the language. The words are a Croatian-Somali-Norwegian fireworks display. /…/ There is something effortless about how Lovrenski brings out generally interesting truths in concrete situations. /…/ it’s the incredible energy that emanates from this text that I’m left with. He’s cracked the code. He speaks to everyone. Just as he describes it here is how it was Back in the Day. It’s safe to say from the outset that Oliver Lovrenski is this year’s literary newcomer. ”


    NRK, Norway

  • “It is an outburst of rare energy and self-awareness on behalf of its own generation. /…/ due to the language, the fused slang expressions from various cultures, and the book’s fragmented yet intricately woven structure, the entirety behind juicy one-liners becomes nuanced, explosive, and poignantly accurate. /…/ Gripping from the very first sentence. /…/ This kind of debut only arrives once a decade. /…/ As a debut, Back in the Day is exceptional”

    Dagsavisen, Norway

  • “Powerful messages from the street. /…/ an exceptional literary talent. /…/ One can tell that this is not just scribbling; there is an overarching plan behind Back in the Day. When Lovrenski has something truly close to his heart, you can really feel his special insight, his literary talent, whether it’s an absent father figure, the longing for a grandmother, the almost successful project of finding a proper girlfriend – or when reality truly sets in, when one of the toughest buddies dies.”


    Adresseavisen, Norway

  • “Young Oliver Lovrenski’s debut testifies to a truly unique literary musicality. Back in The Day is an impressively confident debut novel. /…/ a nineteen-year-old debut author writing such a well-executed story is not an everyday occurrence.”


    Dagbladet, Norway

  • “Like [Yahya] Hassan, [Oliver Lovrenski] portrays an environment that is not exactly overrepresented in Nordic literature, and his last night with the gang is surprisingly charming. /…/ Here, you get to see the young dealers in the novel as regular, vulnerable boys, but what makes the book exceptional is that they are also funny and self-ironic. /…/ In passages where the narrator unknowingly reveals himself, Back in the Day is both genuinely unsettling and gripping.



    Morgenbladet, Norway

  • “From the first sentence, this narrative grabs hold of you. /…/ Debutant Oliver Lovrenski (19) has something many authors can envy him for: a highly relevant story from a notorious underground milieu, told at eye level with those it concerns. /…/ Lovrenski’s hyper-realistic portrayal has been poetically crafted into unusually playful literature with humor and wit. It’s brilliantly done. /…/ The text is colloquial, close, and freshly invigorating. Reading aloud from this book is guaranteed to strike a chord with the audience. /…/ Despite the thematic similarities with some of the finest youth portrayals from Oslo, the novel is executed originally and closely tracks the lives of today’s young people. /…/ One of the most impressive aspects is that a 19-year-old can write so intimately about young people who have been let down without the text coming across as bitter. /…/ Back in the Day is an unsentimental portrayal of a brutal reality, told with impressive vitality. It is crystal clear in thought and writing – and simply a sensationally good debut. ”

    Aftenposten, Norway

  • “In addition, there is another type of oral playfulness, disses from stand-up and bragging from rap, which smoothly blends into the overall straightforward and raw narrative style, small fragments of close memories told in a diary-like written form. /…/ Lovrenski writes with fine touches of humor and love for his characters, in the dark life where he roams around Oslo with his three musketeer friends and gradually ends up further out. /…/ We still recognize the props and backdrops of the underlying story; it is the author’s perspective, linguistic abundance, and effective snapshot scenes that are the assets. These are sharp snapshots from a contemporary Oslo that most of us older folks do not gain insight into – or perhaps that’s why we should read them, so they are not left to themselves?”

    Klassekampen, Norway

  • “ [Back in the Day] has attracted great attention for its energy, style, language, and the insight it provides into a world unfamiliar to much of the literary audience. Humor, loyalty, and friendship are central themes. [It is an] exceptional portrayal of an authentic, stylish, and important story about today’s youth in Oslo. ”

    Oslo City Artist Prize jury motivation, Norway

Photo: Jarli & Jordan Oliver Lovrenski
Reading material

Norwegian edition

English translation

Rights sold

Croatia, OceanMore

Czech Republic, Paseka

Denmark, Lindhardt og Ringhof

Finland, Gummerus

France, Actes Sud

Germany, Hanser Berlin

Greece, Metaixmio

Italy, Mondadori

Lithuania, Alma Littera

Netherlands, Oevers

Norway, Aschehoug

Poland, ArtRage

Serbia, Geopoetika

Sweden, Brombergs

UK, Hamish Hamilton (World English)

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