Et eventyr

Et eventyr A Fairy Tale

A young boy grows up without an identity but with a father who will seemingly always be by his side. As the two of them move from one place to another like runaways, they move further and further away from society’s constant demands. The boy receives an unconventional education from his anarchistic father and views the world through his father’s preacher-like guidance. One day, their adventure takes an unpredictable dark turn and the saga continues ten years later when the boy is just entering adulthood. With a fake name and a monotonous job, the boy has reluctantly adjusted to modern society’s norms but the repercussions of his childhood begin to take shape. Soon questions about his father’s murky past cannot remain unanswered much longer.

Spanning from the mid 1980s to early 21st century Copenhagen, Jonas T. Bengtsson has written a coming-of-age novel about being a stranger in the modern world and about the consequences of a philosophy inherited from parent to child.

“With controlled and measured prose, Jonas T. Bengtsson builds subtle suspense, describing the experiences of a young boy, who is at once protected by his father’s love while under constant threat of the darkness of their daily reality. A Fairy Tale is a profound and penetrating novel about the unbreakable bond between a father and son.”
-Lawrence Hill, author of The Book of Negroes/Someone Knows My Name

“A unique and brilliantly observed depiction of a father–son relationship, and the perils of unconditional love.”
-Jon Bauer, author of the IMPAC Award-shortlisted *Rocks in the Belly

“If Cormac McCarthy’s The Road offered an actual relationship instead of only an emptiness that readers fill, then it might approach Jonas Bengtsson’s A Fairy Tale. Here are a father and son in desperate circumstances, paired off against the world, but their relationship is rich and strange and intensely human and particular. This father is one of the best characters I’ve ever read in fiction, and the story is beautifully told.”
-David Vann, author of Legend of a Suicide and Caribou Island

“There are moments of transcendent beauty and joy. Bengtsson’s prose is clear and unadorned, and he strikes a fine balance between momentum and careful character development … A Fairy Tale is a fascinating and often brutal meditation on alienation and trauma … In Bengtsson’s remarkable novel, the past is never far behind us.”
-Emily St. John Mandel, author of Station Eleven


Martin Andersen Nexø Literary Award Denmark 2013
Shortlisted for the Danish Radio Literature Prize (Best Novel of the Year) Denmark 2012
Close award list


  • “A brilliant novel about survival, love and legacy.”

    Libération Dimanche, Champagne, France

  • “Jonas T. Bengtsson’s new novel plays with the classic theme of the coming-of-age novel. /…/ The young Danish writer creates a convincing portrait of a son: fleeing like his father, fleeing because of his father.”

    Le Monde, France

  • “A generational novel, dense and ambitious.”

    Livres Hébdo, France

  • “A beautifully original novel with a lot of charm. Absolutely recommended.”

    La Quinzaine littéraire, France

  • “A grand novel!”

    WDR, Germany

  • “[The] austere, reserved, and sober prose works against the violent events in the plot. A Fairy Tale lives in force of the father and son relationship, in describing how past crimes cast overshadow the present, in the fundamental effectivity of a fairy tale, in the middle of a prosaic world that muddles sinister and banal events.”


    Politiken, Denmark

  • “Jonas T. Bengtsson writes in a confident style with sternness and gentleness, something that he established in his first novel, Amina's Letters (2005), and developed in full scale in Submarino (2007). With the highly moving symbolic, psychological and realistic fairytale about a peculiar otherness, he consolidates the special tone of his prose – something which floors me completely.”

    Weekendavisen, Denmark

  • “Bengtsson moves through the plot with a language that is exposed to largesse and sentimentality but is still both generous and sensitive…a sober but imaginary force that is unique.”


    Berlingske, Denmark

  • “Bengtsson elegantly maintains the level from Submarino and captures phenomenally well the intimacy between father and son. And in the same way as the previous novel,A Fairy Tale is a knockout of a story about ties of kinship that keeps the reader in a crushing grip. Excellent.”


    Ekstra Bladet, Denmark

  • “There is a forceful and evocative drive in the boy’s story of his strange childhood… The first part of the novel is straight out excellent. The child’s admiration, but also insightful perspective, of the father and their materially poor life together in Denmark’s undergrowth gives the whole story a hyper-realistic or slight magical touch, perhaps with a hint of Peter Høeg, when he was the least garish and at his best.”


    Jyllands-Posten, Denmark

  • A Fairy Tale is a tremendously well-written book. It is dark but the rendering is so powerful that the author never looses sight of his reader.”


    Flensborg Avis, Denmark

  • “Jonas T. Bengtsson's fascinating third novel … the author has masterfully linked the father's storytelling to real-life examples of a malignant social conformity. /…/ Grandly conceived, simply told, A Fairy Tale is an artistic triumph. Who is spinning yarns? Who is insane? Is the "world as it truly is" always a bedtime story? For there are numerous fairy tales here, each of which could be true: a father's delusions, a politician's slogans, a society's standards, a vicar's intentions, a son's self-creation. Is the whole book, dedicated to Bengtsson's son, a fairy tale, the moral being that the bond between father and son – with authority itself – must finally be left behind? 'Don`t trust me,' Bengtsson seems to say, 'See how I can trick you!' In the struggle to grasp the axis of this rich work, the reader is forced to question her own myths.”

    Globe and Mail, Canada

  • “[A] resonant catalogue of life”

    Publishers Weekly, US

  • “In a mash-up of film noir, fairy tale, and bildungsroman, Danish author Jonas T. Bengtsson's A Fairy Tale traces the unusual and occasionally horrific journey of a boy and his father. Deftly narrated from the child's point of view, the book takes on the power of myth. Themes touching on the artist/other in society, loss of innocence, abandonment, and the search for identity are subtly woven throughout.”

    Foreword, US

  • “Danish author Bengtsson's first novel to be published in the US … has an almost hypnotic power to draw readers into the narrative and hold their attention to its melancholy ending.”

    Booklist, US

  • “A tightly written literary novel, A Fairy Tale is a fascinating study in the way each generation affects the next, and how people shape the story of their lives. It is a strong introduction to the work of Bengtsson for the English-reading audience, and a gripping story in itself.”

    The Masters Review, US

  • “[A Fairy Tale] is … compelling for showing the dark side of seemingly normally things – the city of Copenhagen, theater shows, gardening – and its showing of the bright side of things that are normally seen in their darkest light – strip clubs, shoplifting, and mental institutions … This is a worthy introduction of Jonas T. Bengtsson to the English audience. Those drawn to Updike's Rabbit Series … will gravitate to A Fairy Tale because it has the underlying rebellious spirit that does not often bubble to the surface in such a collective environment.”

    Three Percent, US

Photo: Robin Skjoldborg Jonas T. Bengtsson
  • Literary
Reading material

Danish edition

English edition

German edition

French edition

Rights sold

Albania, Shkupi

Australia and New Zealand, Scribe

Bulgaria, Era

Canada, Anansi

Czech Republic, Euromedia

Denmark, Rosinante

Finland, Like

France, Denoël

Germany, Kein & Aber

Hungary, Animus

Iceland, Forlagid

Korea, Jaeseung Book Gold

Netherlands, Koppernik

North Macedonia, Begemot

Norway, Gyldendal

Poland, Czarne

Romania, Univers

Turkey, Pegasus

US, Other Press

More From Jonas T. Bengtsson