The Dogs in Thessaloniki

Askildsen, Kjell: Hundene i Tessaloniki

A man and a woman in an isolated house and nothing around them or almost; the wild Norwegian nature or the urban desert, alcohol, cigarettes and ghosts, mothers, fathers and lovers who have disappeared. These are the elements of their daily universe. Kjell Askildsen's couples, be it brother and sister or man and wife, all have a secret, a mystery that haunts them. A silent drama of language and spirits unfolds, a drama full of aborted quarrels and inextricable conflicts.

Askildsen's latest collection of short stories may be read more thematically concentrated than his earlier work. He conveys the games people play and their sub-dialogue, in a clean cut, reflection-free prose. The rigidity and confinement in human relations is exposed when it cracks. Conflicts, but also reconciliations, are implied by the text.

Click here to download the title story from THE DOGS IN THESSALONIKI.

Praise for The Dogs in Thessaloniki:

"A subdued and clean description... characterised by an exquisite storytelling technique and a brilliant feeling for language... All the despondent relationships in The Dogs in Thessaloniki create an atmosphere of melancholy and despair, but the reader recognises the traumas from his own relationships or from the ones of people around him... In this way he manages to write about something important, and at the same time to give the reader a true reading experience"
(Aftenposten)

”masterly (...) genuine understanding of man and precise language."
(Berlingske Tidende, Denmark)

"a small treasure chest of dense prose (...) in a class of its own in Norwegian and Nordic writing. "
(Information, Denmark)

"a great story teller (...) Sincere, devastating and merciless (...) can be compared to Hemingway and Carver stylistically, with Kafka, Beckett and Camus thematically."
(El Pais, Spain)

"Kjell Askildsen is a master of short story writing. In his long, but not very extensive literary work, he has refined the short story to mere perfection."
(Jyllands-Posten, Denmark)

“His ability to weave dialogues together – quick, few in words, sharp, not like in the movies, but like in real life – and situations – always from well-adjusted homes where everything appears pure pleasure, but that hide bitterness, strain, disappointment – manages to trouble the reader.”
(Que Leer, Spain)

"Kjell Askildsen's Selected Stories (translated by Seán Kinsella, Dalkey Archive, £8.50) shows that there's more to contemporary short fiction than America and more to Norway than Knausgaard and Nesbo. The octogenarian, who has been publishing in his own language for 60 years, offers stark portraits of male exuality and familial dysfunction that are full of compelling strangeness. Lives surge through a few brittle pages, suppressed loves and resentments threaten to erupt. Characters are rarely isolated but their loneliness is palpable as they steal time in the shadows. Names recur throughout the book so the reader tries to connect people with events, but it's the loose ends which draw you back to these taut dramas".
(Independent, United Kingdom)

First published: 1996, Forlaget Oktober
Kjell Askildsen: Biography and bibliography

 

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