Matias Faldbakken

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. We Are Five is his latest novel, for which he has received a number of prestigious awards, including the Norwegian Critics’ Prize for Literature and Norwegian Radio’s Literary Award. The novel also earned Faldbakken a place among the candidates for the Nordic Council Literature Prize.


The Oktober Prize Norway 2022
Shortlisted for the Nordic Council Literature Prize – Vi er fem We Are Five 2020
The Norwegian Radio’s Literary Award Norway – Vi er fem We Are Five 2019
The Norwegian Critics Prize for Literature Norway – Vi er fem We Are Five 2019
Shortlisted for the Oslo Award (Best Novel) Norway – Vi er fem We Are Five 2019
Shortlisted for the Young Critics’ Award Norway – Vi er fem We Are Five 2019
Longlisted for the IMPAC Dublin Literary Award Ireland – The Hills The Hills 2019
ITB Buchaward Germany – The Hills The Hills 2019
Shortlisted for the Brage Prize (Fiction) Norway – The Hills The Hills 2017
The Norwegian Booksellers’ Association’s Bjørnson Grant Norway – The Cocka Hola Company The Cocka Hola Company 2002
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Scandinavian Misanthropy

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Jo Nesbø, Matias Faldbakken and Liza Marklund on the Norwegian bestseller lists

The official weekly bestseller lists in Norway see Jo Nesbø once more landing the No. 1 spot on the fiction list with Killing Moon, while Matias Faldbakken’s just published Poor Thing debuts at No. 4. Liza Marklund’s The Polar Circle meanwhile comes in at No. 5 in the paperback category.

‘Poor Thing’ published in Norway

Once upon a time, not that long ago, a child came crawling out of the woods, poor thing. Climbing out from the ditch, it began to wander the graveled road. It was a sad sight to behold.

The child was scruffy and ugly. Its hair was tangled. The forehead contorted. A frightened look could be seen on its face, eyes darting above crusty nostrils. The lips were stiff and blue and the neck far too thin. A long cloth or tattered vest wrapped around its torso, and under it two skinny legs protruded, knees wider than both calves and thighs. The child wore no shoes. Its oversized feet resembled wet wool socks. From time to time, the knuckles of one hand would scrape the ground. And close to its ribs, the thin, hunched figure clutched a tattered folder, or perhaps an envelope, like an animal come out of the forest bearing a message.

The lonely foster boy Oskar works at Aud and Olav Blum’s mill for board and lodging. One day he discovers a child in the forest, an untamed cub, whom he captures and takes home. The child suffers from stunted growth and is almost completely mute, but under Oskar’s care, it begins to grow at breakneck speed.

Matias Faldbakken’s sixth novel, Poor Thing, is both a love fable and a coming-of-age story. It is written with great imagination, linguistic excess, and a distinctive mixture of passion and irony. The narrative alternates freely between realistic novel traditions, satire, romance, and folk tales, and several historical eras are in flux at the same time.

Poor Thing is an original, entertaining, and captivating novel about exclusion, loneliness, desire, and care. And all the while, the story poses the question: What is a trauma?

Faldbakken awarded the 2022 Oktober Prize

Matias Faldbakken has been awarded the 2022 Oktober Prize. He was announced as the winner by Oktober’s publishing director, Inger Engelstad, who gave the following motivation: “Faldbakken is one of the most prominent writers of his generation, with a vast linguistic and stylistic register. He writes novels that are profoundly original, and that go their own way. There is a great authority coursing through everything he writes, along with a unique literary elation …”

The Oktober Prize was instituted with the purpose of strengthening and further developing significant, preferably younger, authorships that are particularly characterized by literary courage.

‘We Are Five’ awarded the Norwegian Critics Prize

During today’s award ceremony at the House of Literature in Oslo, it was announced that Faldbakken’s We Are Five is the recipient of the 2019 Norwegian Critics Prize for Literature. The jury's motivation is as follows:

“This year’s winner has since his first publication continued to distinguish himself as a particularly uncompromising and unpredictable author, who in a unique way succeeds in mirroring our times. The exploration of how transcendence is closely linked to the power of creativity and identity is a frequently recurring theme in his authorship. In his latest novel, this is merged into in a story that captivates from the very first page, and continues to transform as the story progresses. /…/ In this year’s winning novel, We Are Five, the aggressive, extreme and arbitrary have been replaced with playfulness with a capital P. The novel is full of richness. The satire is still edgy, but the mocking gaze has been replaced with an honed humor. The characters have a warmth to them, and the narrative a great momentum. /…/ With his supreme sense of pop-cultural and historical literary references, Faldbakken has crafted a novel that constantly remolds itself: from kitchen sink realism and adventures, to Frankenstein’s, no sorry, Blystad’s monster.”

Monika Fagerholm and Matias Faldbakken shortlisted for the Nordic Council Literature Prize

Monika Fagerholm’s Who Killed Bambi? and Matias Faldbakken’s We Are Five are shortlisted for the 2020 Nordic Council Literature Prize. Instituted in 1962, the Literature Prize has since been awarded annually to a work of fiction written in one of the Nordic languages that is of “high literary and artistic quality”.

Among previous winners are Sofi Oksanen, Per Petterson and Tomas Tranströmer, to mention a few.

To read the jury’s rationale, click the “Read more” below.

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Photo: Ivar Kvaal

‘We Are Five’ awarded the Norwegian Radio’s Literary Award

A jury consisting of both experts within the literary field and a few carefully selected members of the general public unanimously named Faldbakken's latest novel We Are Five the winner of the Norwegian Radio’s Literary Award during yesterday's live announcement. The public service station NRK broadcasted the jury interview on Norwegian radio and TV, and Abid Q. Raja, the Minister of Culture and Gender Equality, was present to hand out the award.

Matias Faldbakken’s ‘We Are Five’ shortlisted for the Norwegian Critics Prize

Matias Faldbakken has been shortlisted for the 2020 Norwegian Critics Prize for Literature, with his novel We Are Five. Since 1950, the prestigious prize has been annually awarded to a Norwegian author selected by the Norwegian Critics’ Association. We Are Five is one of four nominees for this year’s award, and the jury gives the following motivation:

We Are Five is a multifaceted novel. It ties in closely with Thure Erik Lund’s dystopian rural novels, while also presenting a grotesque Rapunzel narrative of sorts with biblical references. /…/ Faldbakken portrays the characters and the tragicomics of everyday life as distinctive as Carl Frode Tiller, with a narrative pace that give crime novels a run for their money, and a vivid and concise language. /…/ [We Are Five] is one of last year’s great reading experiences.’

The award ceremony will be held at the House of Literature in Oslo on March 5.

‘We Are Five’ shortlisted for the Oslo Award 2019

Matias Faldbakken’s novel We Are Five is one of three novels that have been shortlisted for the Norwegian magazine Natt og Dag’s 2019 Oslo Award for ‘Best Novel of the Year’. In the article where the nominees are revealed, We Are Five is highlighted as Faldbakken’s best novel to date.

The winner will be announced on January 31, 2020. To vote, click “Read more” below.

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‘We Are Five’ shortlisted for the Norwegian Radio’s Literary Award

Matias Faldbakken’s We Are Five has been shortlisted for one of the most prestigious literary awards in Norway, the Norwegian Radio’s Literary Award. The prize is awarded by NRK and the winner will be announced in February, 2020.
Previous winners include Linn Ullmann and Karl Ove Knausgård.

We Are Five has already been lauded by NRK in a recent review:

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.”

‘We Are Five’ shortlisted for The Young Critics’ Award

The newly published We Are Five by Matias Faldbakken has been shortlisted for the 2020 Young Critics’ Award in Norway.

The jury says:

“As with his previous novel The Hills, there is a brilliance to We Are Five. The story of the rural family father who unwittingly creates a lump of living clay in his workshop is both so effortlessly told and ingeniously thought out that it stands out tremendously among this year’s books. Here you will encounter a sci-fi version of the narrow small-town mindset, a fluent and unpretentious use of mythology, and a magical realism that feels completely natural and essential.”

The award ceremony will be held in Oslo on March 12, 2020.

‘The Hills’ longlisted for the IMPAC Dublin Literary Award

It is now official that Matias Faldbakken’s critically acclaimed novel The Hills has been longlisted for the IMPAC Dublin Literary Award 2020.

The IMPAC Dublin Literary Award is awarded annually to a novel published in English. The prize was handed out for the first time in 1996, and previous winners include Orhan Pamuk, Michel Houellebecq and Herta Müller.

The winner will be announced on June 10, 2020.

‘We Are Five’ published in Norway

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.

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