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The 2021 Graywolf Press African Fiction Prize is now open for submissions via Submittable through August 31, 2021.

Across the China Sea

A Novel
Gaute Heivoll, translated from the Norwegian by Nadia Christensen
In the waning days of the German occupation of Norway, Karin and her husband move from Oslo to a tiny village in the south, with their young son. There, they aim to live out their dream of caring for those who can’t look after themselves. They have spent months building a modest house with rooms for patients, and it’s soon filled, with three adult men who are psychologically unstable—including Karin’s uncle, Josef, who suffered a head injury in a carriage accident—and five siblings whose parents have been declared unfit, and who spur much conversation in the village. This small and idiosyncratic community persists for nearly three decades.
After his parents’ deaths, the son returns to clean out this unusual home. The objects of his childhood retain a talisman-like power over him, and key items—an orange crate where he and his sister Tone slept as infants, Josef’s medal of honor, his mother’s beloved piano, and many others—unlock vivid memories. In recounting the ways that the five siblings both are and are not a part of his family, he reveals his special relationship with Ingrid, who cannot speak, and Tone’s accidental death, which occurred when they were playing together, and its quiet yet tragic effects on the extended family.
With deep compassion and gentle humor, Gaute Heivoll portrays an unconventional family as it navigates an uncertain and often unkind world.

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An atmospheric and affecting novel set in rural Norway, by the award-winning author of Before I Burn

About the Author

Gaute  Heivoll
Credit: Paal Audestad
Gaute Heivollis the author of Across the China Sea and Before I Burn, which won the Brage Prize and was a finalist for the Critics Prize and the Booksellers’ Prize in Norway. He studied creative writing at Telemark College, law at the University of Oslo, and psychology at the University of Bergen. He lives in Norway.
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Nadia Christensen has published literary translations of seventeen books, including Across the China Sea by Gaute Heivoll and two winners of the Pegasus Prize for Literature. In 1996 King Harald of Norway knighted her for her contribution to US-Norway relations.
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  • “Superbly translated by Nadia Christensen. . . . Heivoll stands alone with his lush and quirkily beautiful descriptions of his pastoral surrounds. . . . Mesmerizing and affecting.”Star Tribune (Minneapolis)
  • “A beautiful rumination on the ties that bind us as family, as well as the delicate line between sanity and madness.”The Gazette (Cedar Rapids)
  • “Quietly affecting. . . . Too few books address the plight of the mentally disabled, and Heivoll handles his assignment with grace.”Library Journal
  • “Humane and lovely; reminiscent of Paul Harding’s Tinkers in its sympathetic understanding of mental disability and the power of memory.”Kirkus Reviews
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