The Faster I Walk, The Smaller I Am

Skomsvold, Kjersti Annesdatter: Jo fortere jeg går, jo mindre er jeg

Winner of the Tarjei Vesaas First Book Prize 2009
Nominated for the International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award 2013
Nominated for the  Booksellers' Prize  2009

Mathea Martinsen has never been good at dealing with other people. But one thing she has learned. They are not like her. Now, as an old woman, she suddenly experiences a great grief, and she is struck by the fear that she will die before anyone will know that she has lived. Mathea digs out her old wedding dress again, bakes some sweet cakes and goes out among the others.

Kjersti Annesdatter Skomsvold’s first novel stands out for its humorous earnestness and unusually inventive prose.

Click here for an English sample translation.


“A wonderful literary debut!”

”An astounding literary debut (...) nothing less than scorching poetry.”

”Original and moving. Kjersti Annesdatter Skomsvold portrays with absurd insight the horrible and fascinating aspects of nearing death (…) Skomsvold has created a character adorably absurd both in her language, thoughts and actions”

“A gloomy feel good novel about the irreparable loneliness of being human. A tragicomedy of rare quality.”
Stig Sæterbakken

"Skomsvold impresses with a first novel which is terrible and funny at the same time. It takes a lot to create a literary feast out of social anxiety, and it’s all the more impressive when it’s done by a debutant. And it’s particularly impressive to have such a firm grasp of literary structure that the reader is entertained and surprised throughout the book … Skomsvold catches the reader off guard with creative twists until the very last page, and she proves herself as a sparkling cornucopia of imaginative prose and human warmth. Merciless and funny at the same time.”
5/6, VG

“A fascinating little novel that pulls your heart strings in a lovely, non-sentimental way.”
Dagens Næringsliv

“persuasive (…) Skomsvold writes well, masters her universe and manages to conjure up a strange but nevertheless believable character (…) [This novel] is something out of the ordinary”
Bergens Tidende

"The Faster I Walk, The Smaller I Am is a well-composed little pearl of a first novel."
Weekendavisen (Denmark)

“This Norwegian debut masters both the comical and the morbid. A surprising and charming novel about a peculiar woman’s peculiar life. (…) I can recommend the book to anyone who wants a charming and surprising read.”
Litteratursiden (Denmark)

“The enthusiasm [for this book] is understandable. It is certainly a commendable and independent little debut. (…) It is, as you can see, a little sad, but more importantly, thought-provoking and funny in a warm and nice way. Even if our conscience is pricked at along the way, Skomsvold isn’t out on an errand of social criticism. (…) Skomsvold allows Mathea to tell her own story, and in that regard gives a voice to one of everyday life’s quiet and invisible existences.”
Berlingske Tidende (Denmark)

“highly well written and artful … This is a novel that contains so much depth that the reader probably needs to read it two or three times to get a full understanding of the symbolic and philosophic-mathematic layers in the writing.”
Magasinet KBH (Denmark)

“a moving tale of humanity and compassion”
Tidningen Kulturen (Sweden)

"This is a debut of alarming confidence, yet [Skomsvold] never allows the intelligence to settle into the merely clever. She is also sufficiently confident to avoid the obvious. Her use of ambiguity is assured, at times inspired. It is very funny, desperately sad and very true … Skomsvold’s delicate little book has a spine of steel … This is a profound work, truthful, unsettling and oddly euphoric. Mathea, part Everywoman and Everyman, is wholly heroic. Her story, as well as Skomsvold’s offbeat, open-eyed vision, rings true, too true."
Irish Times (Ireland)

"terse, remarkable ... blends the unconventional with the human"
The Harvard Crimson (USA)

"Ambiguously, artfully affectless … a delicately done, but firmly made, ambiguity, and a notable work of fiction"
The Winnipeg Review (USA)

“A love story that couldn’t be more beautiful … Skomsvold describes Mathea’s feelings and her world view in such a heartwarming way that she always appears as something more than the sad, old lady you would expect, considering the circumstances. The look we get into her thoughts show her from such a unique perspective that you want to continue seeing the world through her eyes.”
Der Spiegel Online (Germany)

Kjersti A. Skomsvold has conjured up a wise and sophisticated, unique and moving little book. There is more substance on the few pages here than in many an epic and voluminous book. Her name is one to take note of.”
Süddeutsche Zeitung (Germany)

“A shining first novel … a novel that unites a tightly composed, irreproachably written story with a merciless analysis of the most vulnerable state a human being can be in”
5/6 stars, Time Out Lisboa (Portugal)

"Don't miss the opportunity to make acquaintance with one of the weirdest, funniest and saddest debut novels I have ever read ... a tragicomic gem ... It is also a unique love story. No one can not be touched by the story where she makes a heart in he ice with her scarf."

"definitely a good tragicomedy ... With this debut, Skomsvold has proven herself a future as an author."
Dag og Tid

"A heart-breaking comedy that will make you laugh out loud ... a terribly funny book about loneliness and death ... Skomsvold writes smartly and spot-on in a taciturn style, and creates a strong emotional intensity, even in the simplest sections ... I think you have to be highly intelligent to do this: Write on such a low volume and within one stagnant square kilometre, and still, in a clear and distinct voice, say something important and true about some of the biggest secrets in the world"

"Distinct debut ... Skomsvold's language is secure and innovative. It is a joy to read her exploration of the old lady who never dared to live."

"moving and funny prose ... it is soaked in burlesque humour, which is probably not the worst way to handle your mortality"

"Skomsvold builds a fine web of nerves in the tension field between almost paralysing social insecurity and the need to be seen"

"Skomsvold impresses with her clear language and innovativeness ... funny about the tragic ... A ovel worth reading"
5/6 stars, Haugesunds Avis

"The book is about Mathea Martinsen. She is now an old lady, and reflects on the people around her and why she has never felt like one of them. She has mostly lived her life through her husband, who she has nicknamed Epsilon. She has always been fine with this, but now that she fears she might soon die, she would like someone to know that she has lived. This is easier said than done for a lady with such huge interpersonal difficulties. Despite the story being tragic and sad, it is also liberatingly funny in all its pondering over a life that went by without anything happening"
Porsgrunns Dagblad

"A fabulous debut ... Skomsvold hits the nail on the head"
Moss Avis

"intelligent and sensitive about loneliness, love and time passing ... a tragicomedy which reminds us that our need for comfort is impossible to satisfy ... Missing this is unforgivable"
Expresso (Portugal)

First published: 2009, Forlaget Oktober
Kjersti Annesdatter Skomsvold: Biography and bibliography

Rights sold to

Language Foreign publisher
American English Dalkey Archive Press
Brazilian Portuguese Casarão do Verbo
Bulgarian Balkani
Chinese (complex) Yuan-Liou Publishing
Chinese (simplified) Zhengqing Culture&Art
Croatian Fidipid
Czech Argo
Danish Republik
Dutch Zirimiri Press
Faeroese Nylendí
French Editions du Seuil
German Hoffmann & Campe
Hungarian Gondolat
Icelandic Draumsyn
Italian Atmosphere Libri
Korean Sigongsa
Macedonian Magor
Polish Media Rodzina
Portuguese Theoria, Lda.
Romanian Editura Allfa
Russian Corpus
Serbian Dereta
Slovakian Premedia
Slovene Modrijan
Spanish Lengua de Trapo
Swedish Gilla Böcker
Turkish Jaguar

Printer friendly versionPrinter friendly version