Doghead

Doghead

4.6 3
by Morten Ramsland
     
 

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Doghead is a highly imaginative, exuberant saga that follows three generations of a wildly dysfunctional Norwegian family. When Asger, the narrator, visits his dying grandma, he learns that contrary to popular belief, Grandpa was not a war hero. Instead, his nickname was "Crackpot," and both before and after he escaped from a Nazi concentration camp, he was,

Overview

Doghead is a highly imaginative, exuberant saga that follows three generations of a wildly dysfunctional Norwegian family. When Asger, the narrator, visits his dying grandma, he learns that contrary to popular belief, Grandpa was not a war hero. Instead, his nickname was "Crackpot," and both before and after he escaped from a Nazi concentration camp, he was, to put it bluntly, a cheat and a liar. From there the real family history unfolds, and like all great stories, it is a tale that will stay with the reader forever.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly

For years, Asger Erikkson, the narrator of Ramsland's funny and touching novel, has struggled to keep his family history buried. But when Asger is called home to Denmark to the deathbed of his beloved Grandma Bjørk, the stories spill forth, out of order and out of control. First, they summon long-suppressed guilt (Asger caused his grandfather, who survived Buchenwald, to collapse by tricking him into drinking urine, for instance) and then spiral outward, filling in the many blanks from three generations of the Erikkson family. Nuttiness and depravity abound, as Asger's grandfather's many character flaws are revealed, a son is born in a filthy privy, cousins fall in love and an increasingly ill Bjørk begins to babble about a hidden fortune. In his first novel to be translated into English (it won the Danish Best Novel award), Ramsland masterfully captures a zigzagging litany of recollections across generations and the cold North Sea, revealing the family's true fortune: survival in the space between deep dysfunction and enduring love. (Feb.)

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Library Journal

Readers of this work will question the narrator's reliability immediately, because the family tree after the title page lists "The Liar" among his several nicknames. The novel is a fantastic collection of outrageous and usually hilarious stories of three generations of his family, misfits all. About halfway through the novel, after the narrator admits he doesn't know all the facts, his sister tells him to "come up with something yourself." Issues that transcend generations and cultures-money problems, wanderlust, infidelity, and ennui-plague the family. Because the narrator is an artist whose portrayal is compassionate and tender and never vindictive, readers will indulge, and even take pleasure in, his poetic license. One word, incubus, recurs occasionally, but it isn't until deep into the novel that the reader realizes its connection to the title. Danish author Ramsland's first book to be published in English (it's just being released in the United States, although it previously appeared in England) is so entertaining readers will want to devour it in a sitting or two. Enthusiastically recommended for public libraries.
—K.H. Cumiskey

Kirkus Reviews
The American debut of an award-winning Danish novel, a bestseller throughout Europe. On his return to Norway after imprisonment in a concentration camp, Askild Eriksson is hailed as a hero. Children on the street call him "The Carpenter" because he clobbered a German soldier on the head with a stick. It turns out, though, that Askild is more of a war profiteer than a principled resister. By the time the Nazis captured him, he had already made a small fortune by stealing their lumber and selling it back to them. As Askild's wife is dying, her grandson, Asger, determines to unearth his family's true story before it is buried forever. This is not a book to devour in one sitting. It is, rather, a novel for settling into, and it requires a certain kind of narrative patience-a willingness to go where the story leads. Asger, an unobtrusive and trusting narrator, is willing to accept that his father, Niels, was, as a boy, guided by the ghostly voice and dubious prophecies of Rasmus "The Fang" Svensson, Niels's great-grandfather. Asger is similarly unwilling to pass judgment on Niels's folkloric experience in a Norwegian forest: The fact that it may have been fueled by psychedelic mushrooms does not subtract from its truth value. An earthy, funny, unflinching family history.
From the Publisher
International Acclaim for Doghead

“Funny and touching…masterful.”

- Publishers Weekly (starred review)

“A huge international success…combines rambunctiousness, salty humor and poetic imagination.”

- Independent on Sunday (UK), Books of the Year

“A book reminiscent of Grass' The Tin Drum in its humor and Angela's Ashes in its heartfelt affection…the family novel par excellence.”

- Stern (Germany)

“Already a huge success in Europe…Doghead is brilliant, exhilarating, and haunting.”

- Booklist (starred review)

“Like Allende's The House of the Spirits, but more ironical and slightly more modern. Family novels hardly get any better than this.”

- BuchMarkt (Germany)

“A brilliant magical realist family saga. Better than Peter Høeg.”

- Weekendavisen (Denmark)

“Reading fuel for fans of John Irving and T. C. Boyle.”

- Lubecker Nachrichten (Germany)

“An earthy, funny, unflinching family history.”

- Kirkus Reviews

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780312543402
Publisher:
St. Martin's Press
Publication date:
07/06/2010
Edition description:
First Edition
Pages:
384
Product dimensions:
5.40(w) x 8.20(h) x 1.10(d)

Meet the Author

Morten Ramsland, born in 1971, has degrees in Danish and art history. Doghead is his first book to be published in English. A huge bestseller in Denmark, it won four major literary prizes there including Author of the Year, Book of the Year, the Reader's Prize, and the most prestigious prize for literature, the Golden Laurel Prize. It has also won the Premio Berto and Premio Edoardo Kihlgren 2nd Prize in Italy.

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