The Birds

by Tarjei Vesaas


Fiction from Peter Owen Publishers
Translated from Norwegian

The Birds sings with the quiet and poetic intensity expected of one of the greatest Scandinavian writers of all time, Tarjei Vesaas. And this is one of his greatest books.

SKU: 147 Category:


Peter Owen Publishers | Paperback | 200 pages
ISBN: 9780720612912
Publication date: 11 October 2011

From the author of The Ice Palace comes another dazzling tale of delicate beauty and deceptive simplicity.

The Birds is the story of Mattis, who has mental disabilities and lives in a small house near a lake with his sister Hege. She ekes out a modest living knitting sweaters, and from time to time encourages her brother to find work to ease their financial burdens. Struggling to find work and acceptance onto the farms of local farmers, Mattis sets himself up as a ferryman, only without any passengers to take across the lake. Then one day Jørgen, a lumberjack, requests a lift. When Mattis introduces the lumberjack to Hege, he soon finds he has made a terrible mistake …

Translated from the Norwegian by Torbjørn Støverud and Michael Barnes



‘A spare, icily humane story . . . The character of Mattis, absurd and boastful, but also sweet, pathetic and even funny, is shown with great insight. The translation conveys successfully a concentration of style and feeling that seems to Vesaas’ characteristic mark as a novelist.’ – Sunday Times

‘True visionary power.’ – Sunday Telegraph

‘Beautiful and subtle.’ – Scotsman

‘A masterpiece.’ – Literary Review

‘Disarmingly insightful . . . Vesaas conveys subtle emotional rhythms with masterful economy.’ – Tablet

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