Norwegian by Night: Book summary and reviews of Norwegian by Night by Derek Miller

Norwegian by Night

by Derek Miller

Norwegian by Night by Derek Miller X
Norwegian by Night by Derek Miller
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  • Published in USA  May 2013
    304 pages
    Genre: Novels

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Book Summary

Sheldon Horowitz - widowed, impatient, impertinent - has grudgingly agreed to leave New York and move in with his granddaughter, Rhea, and her new husband, Lars, in Norway: a country of blue and ice with one thousand Jews, not one of them a former Marine sniper in the Korean War turned watch repairman, who failed his only son by sending him to Vietnam to die. Not until now, anyway.

Home alone one morning, Sheldon witnesses a dispute between the woman who lives upstairs and an aggressive stranger. When events turn dire, Sheldon seizes and shields the neighbor's young son from the violence, and they flee the scene. But old age and circumstances are altering Sheldon's experience of time and memory. He is haunted by dreams of his son Saul's life and by guilt over his death. As Sheldon and the boy look for a haven in an alien world, reality and fantasy, past and present, weave together, forcing them ever forward to a wrenching moment of truth.

Norwegian by Night introduces an ensemble of unforgettable characters - Sheldon and the boy, Rhea and Lars, a Balkan war criminal named Enver, and Sigrid and Petter, the brilliantly dry-witted investigating officers - as they chase one another, and their own demons, through the wilderness at the end of the world.

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Reviews

Media Reviews

"Miller's affecting debut...is an unusual hybrid: part memory novel, part police procedural, part sociopolitical tract and part existential meditation...First published in Norway, [Norwegian By Night] was worth the wait." - Kirkus

"Both an exciting chase thriller and a poignant story about a man who comes into his own again in his dotage." - Library Journal

"Starred Review. No brief plot outline can do justice to a book that deserves to find a place on a few best-of-the-year lists. Sheldon is a brilliantly imagined character, a true mensch, made of Greatest Generation stuff... Miller joins the ranks of Stieg Larsson, Henning Mankell, and Jo Nesbø, the holy trinity of Scandinavian crime novelists." - Booklist
,br> "A literate, thoughtful and unusual thriller...Our image of Scandinavia is one of tolerance - Miller doesn't disagree with the image, but Norwegian by Night offers a fascinating fictional exploration of the meaning and implementation of that tolerance." - The Times (UK)

"Norwegian by Night has all the ingredients of a top-notch thriller, but it's the superb characterisation of the protagonist that fuels true suspense. Funny and moving as well as thoroughly gripping, this is crime fiction of the highest order." - The Guardian

"Norwegian by Night is not just a great title, it's also a soulful, humane, and sparklingly funny novel. Spend some time with Sheldon and company in the Scandinavian wilderness and you just might make peace with your god, your ghosts, and yourself." - Gary Shteyngart, author of Super Sad True Love Story

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Reader Reviews

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Cloggie Downunder

Funny, moving, exciting and thought-provoking
Norwegian By Night is the first novel by American-born author, Derek B. Miller. When 82-year-old American widower, Sheldon Horowitz goes to live with his granddaughter, Rhea and her Norwegian husband, Lars, in Olso, the last thing he expects is to find himself on the run from the police with a small boy in tow. But the ex-Marine, suffering dementia, according to Rhea, has witnessed the murder of the boy’s mother and feels compelled to keep the boy safe. He heads for the hills, unaware that everyone else (Rhea and Lars, the police, the killer and his gang) is headed there too. Awarded the Crime Writer's Association John Creasy Dagger Award for a debut crime novel in 2013, it is, indeed, a brilliant debut novel, but it is much, much more than a crime novel. Miller has his characters opining on war criminals, ethnic cleansing, asylum legislation, immigration and integration, the treatment of Jews in Norway during World War Two and patriotism. The Korean War, drug trafficking, war atrocities, photography, Marine training, Vietnam, the Balkan conflict, revenge, guilt and grief all feature. Miller’s characters have depth and appeal. Sheldon may be a cranky, argumentative old man but it is impossible not to like him and his voice is clearly heard in the reader’s head. His conversations with both real and imagined people are full of wit and humour, some of it quite black. Rhea observes he can “sound childish and demented but logical all at once.” so that “Tea. Nazi. Milkshake. Police. Are we clear?” can make complete sense to the reader. Miller achieves the perfect mix of serious and hilarious, relieving tense moments with laugh out-loud-dialogue. This novel has twists and turns, plenty of tension and a nail-biting finish. This book is such a pleasure to read that it presents a dilemma for readers who will find themselves racing through it to know the final outcome whilst at the same time, wishing for it not to end. One can only hope that Miller will soon endow the reading public with another work of this calibre. Funny, moving, exciting and thought-provoking.

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Author Information

Derek Miller Author Biography

Phtot: author

Derek B. Miller has worked on international peace and security for think tanks, diplomatic missions, and the United Nations. His first novel, Norwegian by Night, was an Indies Choice Honor Book, an Economist best book of 2013, and a winner of the Crime Writers' Association's John Creasey Dagger Award. His second novel, The Girl in Green, was published in 2017. Born and raised in Boston, Miller has lived abroad for more than fifteen years, in Norway, Switzerland, Britain, Israel, and Hungary. He now lives in Oslo, Norway, with his wife and two children.

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