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Children of God

A Novel
Lars Petter Sveen; Translated from the Norwegian by Guy Puzey
Lars Petter Sveen’s Children of God recounts the lives of people on the margins of the New Testament; thieves, Roman soldiers, prostitutes, lepers, healers, and the occasional disciple all get a chance to speak. With language free of judgment or moralizing, Sveen covers familiar ground in unusual ways. In the opening story, a group of soldiers are tasked with carrying out King Herod’s edict to slaughter the young male children in Bethlehem but waver in their resolve. These interwoven stories harbor surprises at every turn, as the characters reappear. A group of thieves on the road to Jericho encounters no good Samaritan but themselves. A boy healed of his stutter will later regress. A woman searching for her lover from beyond the grave cannot find solace. At crucial moments an old blind man appears, urging the characters to give in to their darker impulses.

Children of God was a best seller in Norway, where it won the Per Olov Enquist Literary Prize and gathered ecstatic reviews. Sveen’s subtle elevation of the conflict between light and dark focuses on the varied struggles these often-ignored individuals face. Yet despite the dark tone, Sveen’s stories retain a buoyancy, thanks to Guy Puzey’s supple and fleet-footed translation. This deeply original and moving book, in Sveen’s restrained and gritty telling, brings to light stories that reflect our own time, from a setting everyone knows.

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Daring and original stories set in New Testament times, from a rising young Norwegian author

About the Author

Lars Petter Sveen was named one of Norway’s ten best authors under thirty-five by Morgenbladet, and has received Tarjei Vesaas’s Debutant Prize and the Per Olov Enquist Literary Prize. Children of God is his first book to be translated into English.
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Guy Puzey (b. 1984) is a lecturer in Scandinavian Studies at the University of Edinburgh, Scotland. He has translated work by a wide range of authors, especially from Nynorsk, the lesser-used of the two official written standards of Norwegian. He was shortlisted for the 2015 Marsh Award for Children’s Literature in Translation for Waffle Hearts (published in North America as Adventures with Waffles), his translation of Maria Parr’s Vaffelhjarte.
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  • “Written in muscular, gritty prose, . . . Sveen has brilliantly remade an old story into something compulsively readable and chillingly modern.”Publishers Weekly
  • Children of God exposes the turmoil of illumination, a striving that exists alongside what’s confusing, inscrutable, and seemingly contrary. Puzey’s impressive translation delivers an astounding voice to English-language literature.”Foreword Reviews, starred review
  • “The world of Children of God is one of a kind of Gnostic duality, where every blessing can be undone by a curse, where every light is balanced with darkness.”Entropy
  • Children of God reads like biblical fan fiction written by a genius.”—Darcey Steinke
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