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Through the Night

3.99  ·  Rating details ·  801 ratings  ·  78 reviews
Dentist Karl Meyer s worst nightmare comes true when his son, Ole-Jakob, takes his own life. This tragedy is the springboard for a complex novel posing essential questions about human experience: What does sorrow do to a person? How can one live with the pain of unbearable loss? How far can a man be driven by the grief and despair surrounding the death of a child? A dark a ...more
Hardcover, 259 pages
Published June 1st 2013 by Dalkey Archive Press (first published September 2011)
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Average rating 3.99  · 
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MJ Nicholls
Oct 15, 2013 rated it it was amazing
This novel swayed to my recent existential rhythms: nooked up in my bed listening to the theatrical tumult of Swans’ White Light From the Mouth of Infinity, all dressed up in decorative gloom (or black PJs). This novel with its slow-burning terror, its epic heartbreak, its beyond-black humour, sways to that Swans sound. A first-person account of a collapsing marriage and the loss of a son does not sound like riveting material, but Stig (who died last year—extra gloom), makes it all seem fresh an ...more
Jul 31, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Deserves to be read for the final third in particular, which had me more tense than any horror film...
Joshua Cross
Jul 28, 2014 rated it it was amazing
One of the most terrifying and perplexing novels I've read. Part domestic drama, part horror story, "Through the Night" is a meditation on grief that borrows heavily from the equally horrific worlds of fairy tale and nightmare. The ending left me with more questions than I began with, and haunted by images that will stick with me for years to come.

"Grief is a gift; people who aren't unhappy, they have no say."

"Everything is as it ought to be. Until it's no longer that way. The only person who k
Apr 04, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Antonomasia by: Best Translated Book Award longlist 2014
A very curious mixture of mundane litfic (albeit well-expressed) and the dark and leftfield. Karl, a middle-aged Norwegian dentist, has an affair. A while later, his depressed teenage son dies in a car crash that may have been suicide.* Falling into his own spiral of despair, Karl ends up in Slovenia, at a house said to confront those who walk into it with their greatest fears.

Sæterbakken said that he didn't see himself as a Norwegian or Scandinavian writer - his influences were from elsewhere i
Apr 24, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Maledetti norvegesi, vi amo.

Il lento disfacimento di un matrimonio, la morte di un figlio, i rimorsi, i rimpianti, un dolore tirranico e schiacciante. Una misteriosa casa in Slovacchia dove le più segrete paure sembrano prendere vita. Un romanzo dalla scrittura penetrante denso di quesiti esistenziali.
L'ultima parte mi ha davvero scosso profondamente.

Mi sono innamorato di Sæterbakken dopo aver letto questo suo meraviglioso saggio sulla concezione della vita e dell'arte e ho ritrovato in Throu
stig saeterbakker is the master of looking at the death, destruction, hopelessness, absurdity of being a human and making it funny, enthralling, and true. this is the 2nd book of his i've read, his Siamese puts us in the apartment of a dying and decaying old married couple whose only reason for living even one moment longer is to goad one another in sadistic and mean-spirited glee, that and they love each other, and now this one in the head of a father whose child committed harikari, whose wife ...more
Aug 17, 2015 rated it it was amazing

More like a 4.5, as it's not without its flaws. In particular the plot twist here does not work nearly as well as the one found in Sæterbakken's previous novel Self-Control. Apppearing as more of a useless appendage affixed to a healthy functioning organ, it can in fact be ignored to allow for a strengthening of the novel, whereas in Self-Control the twist generates a deeper reflection on and reconsideration of what came before. In some ways Self-Control feels like a less developed version of Th
May 19, 2014 rated it really liked it
Stig Saeterbakken took his own life in 2012 and this novel deals with suicide, through the eyes of Karl Meyer, a dentist, who is struggling to come to terms with his teenage son’s suicide. The book opens with a powerful set of vignettes, with Karl attempting to deal with his grief, make sense of his wife’s grief (who has just put an axe through the television) and wondering how he can reconnect with his daughter.

Our novel then tracks back, through a long series of short memories, recalling the e
Apr 11, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: nordic
I am sad and traumatized.
Aaron (Typographical Era)
Mar 15, 2014 rated it it was amazing
GODDAMNED FUCKING SHIT begins Stig Saeterbakken’s final novel, and let’s be honest, that’s exactly how we wish every Best Translated Book Award nominee would start, isn’t it? No handholding and no pussyfooting around, just immediate and complete immersion into whatever the current situation at hand may be. When, within the first few pages of Through the Night an axe is thrust through a TV set splitting the idiot box in half and a teenage girl screams those three explosive words into her parents ...more
Hedia Ghanizadeh
Aug 11, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: novels
Gjennom Natten made a great impression on me, especially the descriptions of how marriage eventually flattens out and becomes mundane, and how suddenly two deeply conflicting desires rises; staying or leaving for another woman. This is a highly realistic, yet also surreal novel about timeless subjects, such as grief, love and insanity. I admire Sæterbakken´s use of images and metaphores, as well as his precise desprictions of phenomenons you are emotionally familiar with, but somehow find diffic ...more
I'm not really sure what to say about this book. Up until the very last couple of chapters, I was thinking that it wasn't exactly my type of book but had a nicely unsettling atmosphere (which I like) and was well- written. It was also a good time to read it. Things just got so strange at the end though, and I think it was effectively strange, that my opinion of it was raised by about half a star. The end, while almost happy, is creepier than anything else could have possibly been, and I apprecia ...more
Jun 02, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book is breathtaking. I read this a few days before Sæterbakken passed away and the thoughts just wouldn't stop. Was this book about him and his life? Is this somehow connected? I actually had to read it twice. Once before he died, and once after. The views I had on the book.. I don't know, it kind of changed.

The emotions, the story - everything's here. Definitely a book worth reading.
Nov 04, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Ehh... OK, so this was never at the level of Knausgaard, but the surprise ending left me confused and somehow feeling cheated– almost enough to knock my rating down a star. Overall, though, the experience was definitely better than a three, so... (I may have to update this brief rambling once my head has cleared from the daze the book all of a sudden put me in.)
Jun 05, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Mostly compelling and interesting read that takes a detour into psychological horror toward the end and finishes with a final paragraph that may upend your entire experience with the book. Some awkward translation choices and plenty of galloping sentences full of commas.
Matt Jane
Apr 14, 2020 rated it it was amazing
The perfect blend of real life sorrow and a horror movie.

Like many Nordic noirs, the dark themes offer very few moments of respite, leaving the readers suspended in the characters nightmarish states.
Jun 28, 2013 rated it really liked it
Terrifying in ways I can't put into words. This book made me feel something, albeit a sickening/troubling something. ...more
May 07, 2017 rated it really liked it
"But it wasn't me that started the fire." ...more
Nov 24, 2016 rated it it was amazing
What an amazing mysterious lyrical dreamy contemplative novel. Unlike anything I've ever read. A man faces his demons in "the house where hopes turn to dust". Wonderful. ...more
Cristian Rusu
Feb 11, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2017, favorites
Eventually, each of us is an other.
—Stig Sæterbakken

"How strong would our passions be, separated from our fear of dying? We want to live, sure. But we want to die as well. We want to be torn apart. We want to drown in the wonders of ecstasy."

What do you do when your child commits suicide? Karl, the protagonist of our story goes through the transforming experience of his son killing himself. We are introduced to the narrators thoughts on love, death, family, existence. It is a well written piece.
Dec 17, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: from-real-shelf
One of my top reads of the year: a breathless, moving piece of work.

Yes, it's depressing, but no more depressing than the other great sad books of our time. Out of sadness, Saeterbakken wrings a surprising amount of hope. Pretty much every part of this story is great: the marriage between Karl and Eva falling apart; Karl's quickly-evaporating bliss with Mona; his brief encounter with Caroline; and finally, his attempt to reach the house "where hope turns to dust." The atmosphere is wintry throug
Sep 23, 2020 rated it it was ok
More than disappointing. It is not a novel, but a putting together of many scrappy draft pieces of writing. The dramaturgy of the plot has not been worked out: why to build up, for instance, the character of Caroline in 40 pages if she is finally dismissed with her whole milieu in half a sentence? Entropy prevails, while this is just not the type of writing which consciously intends to random-lead the reader through an abundant number of unnecessary traces for confusion, no, here things should t ...more
Raul Clement
Jun 28, 2018 rated it really liked it
Ultimately, I didn't enjoy this as much as Invisible Hands. The problem is one of structure. The book starts like an atomic bomb of emotion. I love Saeterbakken's ruthless and direct style: it allows him to get at the painful and ugly truth of a father's grief. The honesty of Saeterbakken's writing means you really feel these emotions; the story is familiar but the way it is written is not.

However, the second half the book veers a little off course. I was more interested in Karl's suffering whe
Anna Bohlin
Feb 11, 2021 rated it it was ok
Disappointed. I wanted a horror book and this just isn’t it. More than half of the book is setup in the form of family drama and infidelity that didn’t intrigue me but I stuck it out thinking it would be worth it. I can’t say that it was. The ending was so boring and bland and left many things unresolved. Can’t say I was on the edge of my seat at any point throughout.

In my opinion the only redeeming quality of this book is that it has moments of poeticism that were quite beautiful.
Charlie Serocold
Aug 09, 2018 rated it really liked it
Great book although I didn't quite understand the ending... ...more
Jun 06, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Dark and yet so bright 🖤
Aug 09, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: scandinavian
This is a book that deserves wider attention. It's a compelling narrative about a man who loses his family and ultimately himself. ...more
Zach Werbalowsky
Jan 20, 2021 rated it it was amazing
God i loved this book.
Sep 28, 2018 rated it really liked it
A downer of a book, but a contemplative downer. A broken marriage, a suicide, an attempt to "arrive without a trace". All three of these events built upon each other, their threads tangling together in the narrator's mind until the very end. At that point you ask yourself, "has he gone completely mad, or has he always been mad?" In any case, the narrator articulates his inner world so concisely and honestly that you'd prefer to live there rather than the outer reality. A smooth, dignified spiral ...more
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Stig Sæterbakken was a Norwegian author. He published his first book at the age of 18, a collection of poems called Floating Umbrellas, while still attending Lillehammer Senior High School. In 1991, Sæterbakken released his first novel, Incubus, followed by The New Testament in 1993. Aestethic Bliss (1994) collected five years of work as an essayist.

Sæterbakken returned to prose in 1997 with the n

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