the calling - the novel

Ørstavik, Hanne: kallet - romanen

the calling – the novel is about a writer who has recently left her husband and moved with her daughter to a small flat. She wants to write a novel about her grandmother who left for China as a missionary in the 1920s, but the story won’t come to her.
the calling – the novel explores what a novel is, what it means to write, what it means to wake up and face a new day. It asks what it is to want something, in your own life and in relationships to others. Who and what decides?
the calling – the novel is about art, life and cognition. It explores possibilities of movement and change in an open manner.

Click here for sample translation (pdf).

Praise for the calling - the novel:

"Ørstavik is hammeringly, annoyingly good"
(Politiken, Denmark)

"If you are troubled by existence, you should trouble yourself with Hanne Ørstavik’s prose. Another well written novel from the Norwegian writer. … [Ørstavik] stands massively there in the contemporary literary landscape, provocative and unignorable, challenging me, asking me questions that can’t be shrugged off."
( Information, Denmark)

“A serious and powerful Norwegian novel about art and identity … I am deeply impressed by Hanne Ørstavik’s novels: Their authenticity, the honesty, the gravity and their existential themes they always deal with. They are not easy reads, and you’re not having fun along the way, but it’s still an exquisite pleasure to read them, precisely because of the honesty and the author’s sharp prose.”

“… an important, thoughtful and dense book, which slowly strikes roots in the reader, producing a serious pensiveness”
(Kristeligt Dagblad)

kallet - romanen is about an author who cannot write a novel. But Hanne Ørstavik can, and kallet – romanen is a novel which with an almost creepy intensity encircles questions about art, life and indentity. … It becomes more and more obvious that this is not just an author in crisis, this is a person on the edge of disintegration … Ørstavik portrays with great intensity the various aspects of this state: the wild fury, the crys for help, the cursing of those who do not want to see her and the contempt for the critics who do, but who misunderstand. It is fascinating how the psychological and ethical crises are woven together in this intense portrait of an artist”
(NRK Kulturnytt)

”Hanne Ørstavik writes good literature about the uncertainty of literature in kallet – romanen. What indeed is literature? This question is the basis for what one might call the unbelievably tough poetological knot in Hanne Ørstavik’s writing. In the novel kallet – romanen she approaches this question in an evenmore vulnerable way than before. … But this is good literature: a fragmented novel about the novel which never gets written, and that switches between the author’s reminiscences, her dreams, her fictive draft of grandmother’s memoires, and the actions in the story’s present”

”Bold and celebratory. Hanne Ørstavik’s new novel is bolder, more open and more challenging – and more celebratory – than any other she has written. Kjærlighet in 1997 was her breakthrough, attracting a broad spectrum of readers. Since then she has been one of the country’s most prominent, most talked-about and most read authors. In this year’s novel kallet – romanen she has reaches a new pinnacle … The bareness of the language has often been called a trait of Hanne Ørstavik’s novels. And her writing continues to be characterized by a combination of the bare and the complex, the simple and the seeking, the tender and the hard-hitting. This is a style which combines rage and cries of despair with a quest for peace but which also – at some points – leaves room for lust and desire, joy and celebration. On the whole, Hanne Ørstavik has probably never written a novel so rich, so multifaceted, so dense and yet so open as this.”
(Hamar Arbeiderblad)

”Hanne Ørstavik is one of the Nordic countries’ most important contemporary writers. Possibly kallet – romanen will not awaken as much sympathy as as Kjærlighet or Presten – it is probably too demanding and uncomprimising for that. But to my mind this book will remain in the same light as Uke 43, as a testament to the fact that literature – when it feels genuine – gives us a place where we can be. And I prefer being where things are left unresolved, where everything is open, in the spaces in between.”


”In characteristically concise language Ørstavik tightly balances two parallel projects … When life is bumpy and almost falls to pieces, the novel’s form can mirror it well. Ørstavik has understood and dared. Marvellous, darlings!”
(Haugesunds Avis)

”A novel about writing a novel – perhaps for people with rather special interests – but incredibly exciting if you are interested … kallet – romanen will perhaps not have as broad appeal as Kjærlighet or Like sant som jeg er virkelig, but will remain a roman de clef in Ørstavik’s oeuvre.”
(Dag og Tid)

kallet – romanen is a powerful encounter with an author who really, really, really wants to. This book is about this author … It is this author’s voice we hear. Despairing, angry, pissed off, strong, weak. Accurate, destructive and torn between many stories. Hanne Ørstavik writes into the very nucleus of the words. It is important, and it is sharp. Words are not just words, words are spaces, openings, connections, movements … And it is profoundly human, Hanne Ørstavik’s writing. The language penetrates, it bores downwards and inwards, without submitting, encircles the core and demands entry … Reading kallet – romanen is thus a powerful linguistic experience. This is a good text which is thoroughly thought-provoking”
(Vårt Land)

”The novel glides along rhythmically, often with a recognizable “Ørstavikian” syntax […] and there is plenty of room for both fits of rage and literary manifests along the way. […] a brave project”

”a novel which with almost scary intensity encircle questions of art, life and identity […] It is fascinating how the psychological and asthetical crises entwine in this intense portray of an artist.”
(Norwegian Broadcasting Corporation, P2)

First published: 2006, Forlaget Oktober
Hanne Ørstavik: Biography and bibliography

Rights sold to

Language Foreign publisher
Danish Athene
Swedish Kabusa

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