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From Barnes & NobleThe Barnes & Noble Review from Discover Great New Writers
The first work of Christensen's to appear in English, The Half Brother brilliantly fuses the epic sweep of a classic novel with the witty self-awareness of the best contemporary fiction. Through narrator Barnum Nilson (an unusually short and troubled screenwriter), Christensen tells the story of a Norwegian family, each generation damaged by the sins of the (mostly absent) fathers and the rage of the mothers left behind.
Barnum, the youngest son of the family, slowly unveils his story, piecing together critical moments in the lives of each family member, from his great-grandfather, a Danish explorer lost in the ice of Greenland, to his half brother, Fred. Though Fred's name means "peace" in Norwegian, he is the product of an assault on their mother that occurred as Norway celebrated the departure of the Nazis. Defined by his anger, Fred begins to disappear, first for days, then for weeks, and eventually for years at a time, until their mother insists on holding his funeral. But Barnum continues to hope for his half brother's return, as if only Fred's presence can redeem both the family's failures and Barnum's own. The Half Brother is an enchanting tour de force woven with intelligence and grace, evincing that rare combination of page-turning suspense and substance that characterizes -- dare we say it? -- a masterpiece. (Summer 2004 Selection)