Til Dancing Boy

Til Dancing Boy For Dancing Boy

Lizz runs the clinic Pure Pleasure, alongside her husband Boje. Here the clients get to explore their desires and lusts by means of tailored programs and advanced sensors. The couple make good money and live with their daughter Thelma in a nice neighborhood. But the family does not fit in, the family life is fraught with conflict and Lizz is growing increasingly restless. When a young man enters Pure Pleasure one day and requests a program where nature is the object of desire, Lizz begins to reminisce about her past. A birthmark on the man’s stomach awakens memories of the children she gave up as a young surrogate and the longing that has haunted her ever since. 

 A transformed Norway emerges in For Dancing Boy as Lizz tells of a life characterized by the unpredictable forces in sexuality and nature, about the yearning for pleasure, about fallibility, longing and love. 


  • “In Sara Johnsen’s [For Dancing Boy] the readers get to grapple with one red hot dilemma after another. /…/ The echos from Margaret Atwood’s classic The Handmaid’s Tale can be heard in Sara Johnsen’s novel. But in For Dancing Boy the dystopia is written in as a taken for granted, almost imperceptible, part of everyday life. It’s brilliantly done. /…/ Without employing any cheap tricks, For Dancing Boy has got a page-turner like quality. It is indeed rare that one sees such a conceptually strong novel driven by these types of quiet horsepowers. /…/ There is a most powerful draw in the telling about Lizz. Through a composition that gradually unveils the protagonist’s life story, from her childhood to being a woman in her fifties, Johnsen created a portrait with an array of nuances.”

    Aftenposten, Norway

  • “A formidable portrait of a woman. /…/ What truly stays with me having read the book is the character drama with the formidable Lizz at its heart.”

    NRK, Norway

  • For Dancing Boy has got a most fascinating protagonist. Well worth the read.”

    Radio NRK, Norway

  • “With For Dancing Boy Sara Johnsen has written an unusually conceptually strong and well-constructed novel.”

    Vårt Land, Norway

  • For Dancing Boy is an unusually exciting novel that makes the readers ask themselves what place the human body have in a thoroughly regulated society.”

    Vagant, Norway

  • “Sara Johnsen places our sensory apparatus under the spotlight in this well-written and unsettling novel. /…/ Above all, it’s Johnsen’s linguistic sense for details that ensures that I’d gladly have devoured a version twice as thick of this narrative. /…/ In her writing Johnsen fuses grief, the body and nature; the reminders of our connections to nature’s unpredictability trickles down to sentence level. It’s truly well done.”


    Stavanger Aftenblad, Norway

  • “[Lizz] is an unusually well-constructed novel protagonist. /…/ Nature and culture, technology and biology, desire and death, order and chaos, it’s all connected in the desires of Lizz. (…) The result is a strong and intelligent novel. /…/ The portrayal of Lizz is what leaves the deepest impression – because she, genuinely, feels like a whole human being.”

    Klassekampen, Norway

  • “Sara Johnsen’s portrayal of the body as the most fundamental condition for our existence in this world is delicate, humorous and searching.”

    Morgenbladet, Norway

  • “Entertaining and in its unique way both humorous and frightening. /…/ This novel has its very own drive. It’s compelling and amusing, yet serious in its own way. /…/ [Johnsen] has a dainty and skilled pen, and with the greatest ease she creates intrigue, twists and surprising turns. A great novel, in other words, that leaves an unforgettable impression.”


    Dagbladet, Norway

  • Impossible to put down. /…/ For Dancing Boy is an unsettling, but also utterly fascinating universe to find yourself in. /…/ The natural and tactile pitted against the clinical and virtual are effective contrasts that Johnsen keeps returning to. The characters long for closeness and intimacy, both physically and emotionally, but various barriers prevent them from getting what they want, at least not without things going quite awry. To pursue one’s desires can be both lifegiving and destructive at the same time. For Dancing Boy places an effective spotlight upon this hugely frustrating fact.


    Verdens Gang, Norway

  • “A stunning futuristic fantasy (or is it a premonition?) that shows how human emotions ultimately don’t change, even if our society and surroundings do so: Of course it’s the people that we love that leaves the biggest impression on our lives, not least the ones we’ve lost. /…/ The novel is also a thought-provoking reflection on the way humanity will handle the rise in infertility and what the consequences will be for the people that will become part of the solution. A tale of the greatest sacrifice. For you who loves The Handmaid’s Tale.”


    Magasinet LIV, Denmark

  • “One can clearly detect Sara Johnsen’s background as director in the vivid For Dancing Boy. There are effective cuts between scenes, depicting the young protagonist Lizz, as she acts as surrogate in a controlled futuristic Norway and the novel’s present, where the adult Lixx owns a so called orgasmery alongside her husband. /…/ The truth is often more complex than it appears to be and the same goes for Sara Johnsen’s masterful Lizz-character. Self destructive, hypersexual, longing and at times almost callous – and beyond the facade a burnt child. An epic, cinematic story, writhing with malaise, and a play with undertones, that you won’t soon forget.”


    Søndag, Denmark

  • “Even if the narrative is sprung from a state of emergency, there is all the same recognition to be found for most readers here: angry and vulnerable teenage daughters, secret and shameful sexual preferences, desire, power relations, class differences, identity politics, vanity and much else. /…/ For Dancing Boy is in many ways unlike any other novel I have read. You alternately find yourself provoked and fascinated, all whilst the overarching theme is explored: What happens when humans loose touch with ourselves and nature? /…/ For Dancing Boy is in short a thrilling thought and a remarkable universe to immerse oneself in, one moves swiftly through the pages and is also made to along the way reflect over climate, body and consequences of time.”

    POV International, Denmark

  • Longing, desire, lust, sexuality, biology and love. This unusual dystopian novel by Sara Johnsen moves in this intense tension field /…/ The dystopian setting and surrogate-scenario is both intriguing and interesting and offers some good food for thought /…/ We’re left with a strong portrayal of being lost and indifferent, which is also what makes the novel so appealing and sets it apart from others.”

    Lust auf literatur, Germany

  • “With For Dancing Boy, [Johnsen] has written a new, intense novel with a lot of potential for debate. /…/ For Dancing Boy is a provocative and intense read. Sara Johnsen, a renowned director, also knows how to captivate her audience when writing this book. Futuristic thriller meets social novel; topics such as female desire, motherhood, abuse, ecological and climate crises are condensed into an intense, haunting read that definitely won’t leave anyone untouched. The story is told in a matter-of-fact, explicit tone, which at times is also reminiscent of the dry, ironic prose of Stine Pilgaard.”

    Buchkultur, Austria

  • “[For Dancing Boy] pursues a sympathetic, most interesting dream logic. /…/ A novel about abrupt and sudden changes in atmosphere, from a plausible and grounded point of view.



    Deutschlandfunk Kultur, Germany

Sara Johnsen
  • Literary
Reading material

English translation

Norwegian edition

Rights sold

Denmark, Lindhardt og Ringhof

Germany, Antje Kunstmann

Hungary, Polar

Norway, Gyldendal

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