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

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A sweeping novel of World War II, set in the Ardennes, from the acclaimed author of Child Wonder

About the Author

Roy  Jacobsen
Credit: Fredrik Arff
Roy Jacobsen is one of the most celebrated and influential contemporary writers in Norway. He is the author of several novels, including Borders, Child Wonder, which was awarded the Norwegian Booksellers’ Prize, and The Burnt-Out Town of Miracles, which was shortlisted for the International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award.
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Don Bartlett lives in Norfolk, England, and works as a freelance translator of Scandinavian literature. He has translated, or co-translated, Norwegian novels by Gaute Heivoll (Before I Burn), Karl Ove Knausgaard, Lars Saabye Christensen, Roy Jacobsen (Borders; Child Wonder), Jo Nesbø, and Per Petterson (Ashes in My Mouth, Sand in My Shoes; I Refuse; It’s Fine By Me).
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  • “[Jacobsen explores] complex military details and intricate family connections with equal fervor. . . . Borders is a sweeping masterpiece.”—World Literature Today
  • “[Borders] is a Second World War reverie. . . . A distinct and layered portrayal of wartime.”Publishers Weekly
  • “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
  • “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
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