A Novel
Roy Jacobsen; Translated from the Norwegian by Don Bartlett and Don Shaw

“Fascinating. . . . Mr. Jacobsen is a writer who demands your close attention, and deserves it.”—The Wall Street Journal

“[Borders] is a Second World War reverie. . . . It hovers, dreamlike, over a group of Europeans trying to make sense of what occurred in their ancient patch of the Ardennes. . . . A distinct and layered portrayal of wartime.”Publishers Weekly

About the Book

A sweeping novel of World War II, set in the Ardennes, from the acclaimed author of Child Wonder
The Ardennes, a forested, mountainous borderland that spans four nations—France, Germany, Belgium, and Luxembourg—was crucial to Hitler’s invasion of France and host to the Battle of the Bulge. In a small valley among these borders lives young Robert, born of an affair between an American GI and the Belgian nurse who rescued him. In his father’s absence, Robert finds a mentor in Markus Hebel, who has faked blindness ever since serving as a Wehrmacht radio operator in Russia. Markus, in turn, confides his secret to Robert—and then he tells the story of his own son, whose fanatical loyalty to Hitler left him trapped during the siege of Stalingrad. In Borders, Roy Jacobsen brilliantly layers these stories of impossible choices between familial love and national identity, culminating in a nuanced, probing novel of shifting wartime loyalties.

Additional Reviews

“An artful deconstruction of nationalism through the prism of personal loss and reconciliation. Read Jacobsen's novel carefully to savor its images and themes.”—Kirkus Reviews

“Deftly, Jacobsen combines antiquity (Prince William of Orange, Dutch Sea Beggars) with recency (Adolf Hitler, Battle of the Bulge), exploring complex military details and intricate family connections with equal fervor. . . . Borders is a sweeping masterpiece.”—World Literature Today

“Jacobsen’s networked prose is a marvel to read; not only does the novel unfold with a connected tenderness and familiarity, it’s exquisitely cartographic. . . . An exhilarating triumph.”—Run Spot Run

“Jacobsen weaves multiple narratives into a dramatic and surprisingly compact tale consumed with difficult questions of identity and memory. . . . Long sentences move with the energy of water—fluid and powerful, substantive but difficult to hold for very long—to be suddenly punctuated with moments of precision and clarity.”Sycamore Review