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, published in 2019, 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.

Stakkar is his latest highly praised novel; shortlisted for both the Norwegian Booksellers’ Prize and the Swedish Brage Prize.


Shortlisted for the Norwegian Critics' Prize for Literature Norway – Stakkar Poor Thing 2023
Shortlisted for the Norwegian Booksellers’ Prize Norway – Stakkar Poor Thing 2022
Shortlisted for the Brage Prize Norway – Stakkar Poor Thing 2022
Shortlisted for The Library Literature Prize Norway – The Hills The Hills 2022
The Oktober Prize Norway 2022
The Norwegian Critics Prize for Literature Norway – Vi er fem We Are Five 2020
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
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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Matias Faldbakken’s ‘Poor Thing’ – Shortlisted for the Norwegian Critics’ Prize 2023

Matias Faldbakken has been shortlisted for the 2023 Norwegian Critics Prize for Literature, with his most recent novel Poor Thing. This prestigious literature prize has been awarded to a Norwegian author annually since 1950. The four nominees of each year are selected by the Norwegian Critics’ Association.

The jury’s motivation is as follows: ‘In Poor Thing, the language has a substance rarely observed elsewhere; it is sculpted with great inventiveness and curiosity. A tell-tale sign of good craftsmanship is that form and content work together, just like it does here, because this novel thematizes formation and learning to perfection. It illustrates how categories of loneliness and togetherness, culture and nature, break down in processes where we both reject and embrace different sides of ourselves and others. Both brutality and mercy are unpredictable forces in Poor Thing. Faldbakken explores how such forces continually affect the ways in which we operate, both as simple humans and as a collective.’

The winners will be announced March 2nd.

‘Poor Thing’ and ‘The Mountain King’ on VG’s ‘Best books of the year’ list

Matias Faldbakken’s Poor Thing and Anders de la Motte’s The Mountain King are two of the titles featured on Norweigan newspaper Verdens Gang’s “Best books of the year 2022” list for literature & fiction. The annual list is one put together by renowned critics by picking out their own personal favorite reads of the past year.

‘Poor Thing’ shortlisted for the Norwegian Booksellers’ Prize 2022

Matias Faldbakken’s Poor Thing has been shortlisted for the esteemed Norwegian Booksellers’ Prize 2022 (Bokhandlerprisen) for “Book of the Year”.

The motivation is as follows: “You know it’s going to be good. Really good. /…/ We’re talking about a primitive and almost inarticulate word flow, almost an archaic, exhorting poem. It pushes this text to the very limits of what can be explained, and it as the same time one of the strongest pieces of writing one can encounter in contemporary Norwegian literature. If you are ready for this autumn’s most thrilling and distinctive reading experiences, all you have to do is throw yourself over Poor Thing.

The Norwegian Booksellers’ Prize is awarded following a vote amongst all those who work in bookstores in Norway. Eligible books are those considered to be one of the “Books of the Year” written by a Norwegian author. The prize was awarded for the first time in 1948, and this year’s winner will be announced November 22nd.

‘Poor Thing’ shortlisted for the Brage Prize 2022

Poor Thing by Matias Faldbakken has been shortlisted for the much-distinguished and prestigious Brage Prize 2022 (Brageprisen) for best Norwegian Fiction.

The jury’s motivation emphasizes Faldbakken’s importance for Norwegian literature, writing that Poor Thing “… pushes language to its absolute limit as the narrative follows its own unconventional logic with great devotion, and is, at times, rather fragile and tender.”

The Brage Prize, awarded for the first time in 1992, recognizes and honors recently published Norwegian literature. This year’s winner will be announced the 24th of November.

‘The Hills’ shortlisted for The Library Literature Prize

Matias Faldbakken’s highly praised novel The Hills is shortlisted for The Library Literature Prize in Norway. Behind the recently instituted award stand 200 public libraries in Norway, aiming to promote the best literature written or translated into Norwegian.

The winner is to be announced November 30th.

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.

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