Halim is a teenager in Stockholm, who feels as if he’s in opposition to everything and everyone. When he’s told the Arabic lessons in school have to stop because of funding cuts, he shows his displeasure by covering the school toilets in graffiti. His father, who runs shop selling a little bit of everything, worries about his academic progress and stresses the importance of speaking good Swedish if he wants to make something of himself. Both feel the loss of Halim’s mother, who died a few years back, greatly. They both try to be supportive of their friend, Nourdine, a washed up actor who’s convinced he’s just the right interview away from a big break.
I work as a secondary school teacher, teaching Norwegian teenagers English and Norwegian. Because I don’t actually have any formal training as a Norwegian teacher, I’m also studying it part-time, which last semester meant studying grammar at a much more advanced level than I’d ever previously done, and this semester involves language history and reading a representative selection of contemporary Norwegian fiction. I’m ashamed to say that fond as I am of reading, the last time I finished a Norwegian novel was in 2010, when I read Victoria by Knut Hamsun with the tenth-graders. I read pretty exclusively in English, and this semester will be my chance to read more in my mother tongue.
Trond is an elderly man, clearly just past his pension age, who’s moved out into the middle of the woods in the Norwegian country side. He clearly enjoys solitude, and spends his days walking his dog, fixing up little things around the rustic cabin where he lives. A chance meeting with his closest neighbor, another solitary elderly man, sets him reminiscing about his past, mostly returning to the summer of 1948, when he was 15 and his life changed forever.