Vi er fem

Vi er fem We Are Five

On a barren plot of land three hours north of the Norwegian capital lives Tormod Blystad, his wife Siv, and their two children. Having left his wild years behind him, Tormod is now a dependable and trustworthy family man. But, as in every family, some spaces have yet to be filled. Cue the arrival of Snusken, the new family dog. When Snusken dies, she leaves behind a vacuum that must be filled. And so one night, Tormod finds himself in front of the pug mill in the garage, mixing red clay and fertilizer. Unknowing to him, his efforts will trigger powerful forces of which he does not yet know the scope.

Matias Faldbakken’s We Are Five is a sharply observant, unconventional and entertaining novel, blending adventure, horror, mythology and science fiction with a hefty dose of raw realism. As unique as Faldbakken’s art, it displays an authorship with an inimitable point of view and ability to execute it.

“Rural novel meets domestic thriller meets Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein. And with a shockingly good result. A truly original piece of writing.”
–Jo Nesbø

Reviews

  • “Transcendent, eerie, grotesque, and entertaining. /…/ It’s a rather wonderful mixture of science fiction and hometown poetry that Faldbakken delivers. The language is laconic yet precise, the pace fast and intense all the way through. The novel is infused with plenty of raw humor and merciless character portrayals. In addition to everything else, We Are Five is also a heart-wrenching marital drama. /…/ With [We Are Five], Matias Faldbakken cements his highly original place in Norwegian contemporary literature. We Are Five undoubtedly deserves five stars!”

    ★★★★★

    Verdens Gang, Norway

  • “This is a novel that is entirely its own and, well, crisp. Rarely have I read a new Norwegian book that to such degree succeeds in playfully building a universe filled with comedy, gravity and adventure. /…/ We Are Five [is] a wild and eventful feast for the reader. For the first time in his authorship, Matias Faldbakken’s ties to the Hamar area shines through in his language, and it is as perfect as it can be. For here, [Faldbakken] writes racy action with an originality otherwise found only with Thure Erik Lund. Faldbakken masterfully uses his solid craftsmanship in design to create a fun and refreshingly sharp and perhaps contemporary moral fable with traces of both Faust and Daidalos/Ikaros. The ending is abrupt and brutal, like in folk tales, and true to how it often unfolds when humanity tries to transcend our given conditions.”

    Aftenposten, Norway

  • “Reading Matias Faldbakken is like reading the Dag Solstad’s Bjørn Hansen novels. /…/ The horror in the plot development creates a tension throughout that more than anything is characterized by literary and imaginative abundance.”

    ★★★★★

    Fædrelandsvennen, Norway

  • We Are Five can be read straight off as an entertaining, gruesome and, a quarter in, grim story. It is also possible to reflect on how fragile the normality is, and how easy it is to go from an uncomplicated everyday-life into the completely uncontrollable. /…/ [Matias Faldbakken] is a master at slowly building the tension. /…/ The analytic [reader] will find pleasure in studying how seamlessly and elegantly the author moves between rural realism and familiar Norwegian family dynamics, into a set of completely different genres. It’s so good it hurts.”

    NRK, Norway

  • “Matias Faldbakken’s new novel is a completely mind-boggling experience, in the best possible way. /…/ It is an observant narrator who tells the story, [We Are Five] is almost free from dialogue, yet the narrative is permeated by a unique sense of intimacy and warmth. Faldbakken becomes intimately familiar with his characters, often finding that one word or phrase that says it all. He also manages to capture the desperate loneliness that exists in many relationships. /…/ There is plenty of room for both warm humor, caricatured village fools, the dark and the at times rather grotesque. Faldbakken narrows it down, twists and turns the mundane – he even breathes new life into the clichés. /…/ It has been a long time since the undersigned has hummed, nodded and gasped throughout a book in this way. We Are Five is reminiscent of its predecessor in that it seems light and casual in its tone, but in truth is carefully thought-through and deeply unsettling. And just like The Hills, it’s a book you can’t really wrap your head around, but that you can’t wait to tell everyone you know about – before you start over again.”

    Dagens Næringsliv, Norway

  • We Are Five opens with a depiction of adolescence and family life in a small village, but soon unfolds into something much darker and more unsettling, something mystical and darkly comical. All of it told in a sober and low-key manner, with the author’s sense for spot-on characterizations and razor-sharp wit. /…/ The heat rises in the novel, but not dramatically. Nevertheless, it does get gruesome, owing to hints of something surrealistic and dystopian. Not to disclose any of the events that suddenly occur in the village, but perhaps it is the mythical village monster in modern form. Or, it could be read as a kind of science fiction adventure: It gets scary, but here are also situations and elements that bring on much laughter. The author of the fashionable The Hills from 2017 is recognizable, despite the choice of scenery and theme. The observing narrator, the dark humor and the story’s surprising turn of events are present also in We Are Five. /…/ The portrayal of Tormod Blystad may be one of the most tender portraits of a man that this reader has seen in a Norwegian novel in a rather long time. /…/ There is a lot to enjoy in a novel that offers both adventure and science fiction, centered on the wizard’s workshop and on completely trivial family life where the flame of passion is running low. Altogether sharply and humorously conveyed by an author who is a master of language. ”

    Dagsavisen, Norway

  • “Matias Faldbakken has crafted a universe that steadily evades both definition and control. Which opens the door to all the more interpretations. Because the lump of clay from the pug mill can bring life to so much. And it says a lot about people as they encounter the mysterious, the indescribable. Thus, it is the turmoil and the uncertainty that give pushes the reader onwards, and make We Are Five an equally mysterious and unsettling story. /…/ To a certain point, it is a novel with room for both humor and wonder. But only to a certain point - then the crucial events take place. And that is when Matias Faldbakken proves his skills, and demonstrates the intensity of the material. From that on it is lethally serious.”

    ★★★★★

    Hamar Arbeiderblad, Norway

  • “Faldbakken has written an intelligent novel that adapts a number of classic motifs in a form that is trustworthy, jovial and entertaining. The simplistic style and genre and the subdued tone come close to the reality that many of us recognize. It is precisely this restrained technique which transforms the novel itself into a kind of clay – a narrative one – when as strong ideas like Faust, the myth of the artist, negotiation problems in modernism, and the Frankenstein figure constantly influence, knead, the story. For this is a novel where normality itself becomes a way of thinking through ideas that break with the norm. It struck me a few days after reading, that this way of discussing creativity is not only deeply original, but also sets a standard for how “big” questions can be discussed without resorting to clichés.”

    Bokvennen Litterær Avis, Norway

  • “Faldbakken’s novels always have a conceptual touch, as if the author is playing with us. This playfulness is first and foremost expressed through the language. In We Are Five, [Faldbakken] casually moves between a fairytale-like narrative and clever østland-expressions, original comparisons […] and adventurous remarks. The narrative voice appears aloof and often satirical, but at the same time unpredictable – yes, in fact inspiringly inventive. The composition prepares you already from the beginning of the novel to follow Faldbakken from the rugged countryside of the East, and info far stranger universes. /…/ But [We Are Five] would not be one of the most sensational [novels] of the year, were it only a wild spin on inventions and rural satire. That the main characters in We Are Five appear so exceptionally vivid, is not only due to them being accompanied by a lump of clay that was supposed to be dead, but to [Faldbakken]’s joy of storytelling. /…/ The depiction of Tormod and Siv’s two vastly different children […] and the parents’ sometimes tender, sometimes unfair view of them, makes We Are Five a uniquely intimate and energetic experience. Faldbakken allows himself to be both witty and touching in his mixture of authentic realism, underlying unrest, and feisty imagination.”

    Morgenbladet, Norway

  • “The most delightful Norwegian novel I’ve read this year is We Are Five by Matias Faldbakken. /…/ The story is unassuming, the language dazzles. As social commentary and poetry, its impact is monumental. ”

    Dag og tid, Norway

  • “In classic Faldbakken manner, [We Are Five] is limitless and humorous, unsettling and nihilistic, full of references, drugs and violence. We Are Five is entertaining, but raises painful questions about family and how we treat those we look down on. Faldbakken still writes fiction with a hammer, but his blows hit harder and harder. /…/ The boundless imagination, the humor and the nihilism – Faldbakken continues to push boundaries.”

    Dusken, Norway

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Author
Photo: #{publication.artist.imageByline}Matias Faldbakken
Published
2019
Genre
  • Literary
Pages
204
Reading material

English translation

Norwegian edition

Rights sold

Czech Republic, Zlin

Denmark, Gutkind

Germany, Heyne

Italy, Mondadori Libri

Norway, Oktober

Turkey, Timas

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