Everything Like Before


Translated from by

Published: 4/27/2021

ISBN: 9781939810946 eISBN: 9781939810953

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Book Description

A man and a woman in a quiet, remote house, an old man on a park bench, an estranged brother in a railway café – Kjell Askildsen’s characters are surrounded by absence. Filled with disquiet, and longing, they walk to a fjord, they smoke, they drink on a veranda, they listen to conversations that drift through open windows. Small flashes like the promise of a sunhat, a nail in a cherry tree, or a raised flag, reveal the interminable space between desire and reality in which Askildsen’s characters are forever suspended. Widely recognized as one of the greatest modern short-story writers, with unadorned prose and a dark humor, Askildsen captures life as it really is, the worlds of his characters uncanny mirrors of our own.

Ultimately, Askildsen’s stories are about the horror of the mundane, the emptiness of everyday life, and the paradox of both wanting and fearing change . . . these tales are unconcerned with plot, but rather focus on the subtleties and impossibilities of human interaction. They provide us with windows through which we, like the characters, may watch each other, may be held up for scrunity.
The Literateur

Kjell Askildsen’s dry, absurd humor is not unlike that of Beckett . . . His short stories are packed with irony, and the dialogue is sharp and expressive.
Times Literary Supplement

[A] meditation on individual freedom, a book fraught with the day-to-day pressures of human life. The nine brief stories collected within can be described in terms of absences. The absence, for example, of experimental or ornate, ‘flowery,’ prose. The absence of unnecessary characters. The absence of exotic or alien locales, or of complicated plot arcs . . . One senses that Askildsen is delicately, deliberately seeking answers to a particular set of nagging questions, and is never quite satisfied with what he uncovers
Adam Segal, Numéro Cinq Magazine

Kjell Askildsen writes what might reasonably be called ghost stories in which there are no ghosts. His prose, uniformly muted and bare, seems haunted by absence . . . His landscapes are stage sets in which houses and lawns exist alone in an empty world.
Aaron Their, The Nation

[F]ull of compelling strangeness. Lives surge through a few brittle pages, suppressed loves and resentments threaten to erupt. Characters are rarely isolated but their loneliness is palpable as they steal time in the shadows. Names recur throughout the book so the reader tries to connect people with events, but it’s the loose ends which draw you back to these taut dramas.
Max Liu, The Independent

Askildsen’s world is paradoxically both limited and limitless. Only a few things happen to his characters, everything out of ordinary life and nothing externally very dramatic. Yet within themselves, the characters are everything: they are infinitely good and bad, often at the same time; they have great tenderness for each other and are unspeakably cruel to each other too. They’re the world in a grain of sand.
Julia Gronnevet, Asymptote