‘Norwegian by Night’ is one of the best books I’ve read for a while. I won’t say that I loved it from the first page because initially I found it quite frustrating wandering around Oslo in the head of a possibly senile 82 year old, but once I got to know Sheldon Horowitz, I couldn’t help but love him. And most of what he did seemed pretty well thought out ….. apart from the Jewish Viking and the fluff ball!
Sheldon fought in the Korean War. He told his wife he was a filing clerk so that she wouldn’t worry. So, years later when he told her he was a sniper, she decided he had dementia and people believed her.
Now with his wife dead, he has gone to live with his granddaughter Rhea and her Norwegian husband Lars in Oslo.
One day when he is alone in the apartment, he witnesses the murder of one of his neighbours. He decides that for the safety of her young son, he must hide the boy.
What follows is a mad trek across Norway by an American ex-marine octogenarian and a young boy too traumatised to speak. Sheldon’s mind wanders between the present, the past and complete fantasy as he uses his skills to evade the murderers (who want to find the boy) and the police (who want to find the boy).
So we find out about Sheldon’s life – his time in Korea, his son’s death in Vietnam (and his guilt for encouraging him to go) and his old friend Bill (now dead) who frequently turns up to offer advice. We also find out a bit about the Korean war, the Vietnam war and the ugly conflict between the Serbs and the Kosovars leading to the independence of Kosovo.
This book was incredibly moving but also incredibly funny in places. When I’d read the last page I was so stunned that I went back and re-read the last few pages hoping for a different outcome (who’s senile now).
This is Derek B. Miller’s debut novel and I can’t wait to see what he comes up with next.
Book Published 2012