• The Birds

From the author of The Ice Palace comes another dazzling tale of delicate beauty and deceptive simplicity.

The Birds is the story of Mattis, who has mental disabilities and lives in a small house near a lake with his sister Hege. She ekes out a modest living knitting sweaters, and from time to time encourages her brother to find work to ease their financial burdens. Struggling to find work and acceptance onto the farms of local farmers, Mattis sets himself up as a ferryman, only without any passengers to take across the lake. Then one day Jørgen, a lumberjack, requests a lift. When Mattis introduces the lumberjack to Hege, he soon finds he has made a terrible mistake …

The Birds sings with the quiet and poetic intensity expected of one of greatest Scandinavian writers of all time, Tarjei Vesaas. And this is one of his greatest books.

Translated from the Norwegian by Torbjørn Støverud and Michael Barnes
‘A spare, icily humane story . . . The character of Mattis, absurd and boastful, but also sweet, pathetic and even funny, is shown with great insight. The translation conveys successfully a concentration of style and feeling that seems to Vesaas’ characteristic mark as a novelist.’ – Sunday Times
‘True visionary power.’ – Sunday Telegraph
‘Beautiful and subtle.’ – Scotsman
‘A masterpiece.’ – Literary Review
‘Disarmingly insightful . . . Vesaas conveys subtle emotional rhythms with masterful economy.’ – Tablet


TARJEI VESAAS was born in 1897 in the remote rural Telemark district of Norway, where he grew up and spent most of his life. His first book appeared in 1923, and he subsequently published several novels, volumes of poetry and short stories. His novel The Ice Palace was awarded the Nordic Council Literature Prize, the most important Scandinavian literary award. He was three times a Nobel Prize candidate. His work has been published in many countries. He died in 1970.
Bibliographic Data
Date Published 11th October 2011
ISBN Number 9780720614947
Pages 200

The Birds

  • £9.99


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Tags: Vessas, Norwegian writing, Norway, the birds, poetry, fiction in translation, Scandinavian literature, Scandinavian, Rokkan, Nobel Prize, tarjei Vesaas, ice palace, year of the hare. Torbjørn Støverud, Michael Barnes