the Birds by Tarjei Vesaas (1957)
 Mattis is the village idiot, and he knows he is different from every one else in the small village where he and his sister, Hege, live. They are in their 40s, and poor as Hege makes a living sewing clothes, while Mattis is unable to work more than a day because of his thoughts. Then Hege suggests that Mattis should become the boatman on the lake just to get him out of the house, and one day he actually gets a passenger in his small boat. The passenger is looking for a place to stay, so Mattis invites him to stay with them, and this changes things around the house.

So Vesaas is one of those authors I have been putting off reading for years as every one I know loathes his books. Is is because they were forced to read him at school? I didn’t find anything loathsome about the book, in fact I got hooked. It was easy to get into Mattis’ narrative.

It is interesting to read Mattis opinion of himself and those around him. He knows he’s different and not as smart as the others, and he often blames his sister for not understanding him. I also like how we don’t ever get to know Hege’s thoughts, and that it leaves you guessing how she is dealing with living with a brother who is mentally challenged. But perhaps the book is better with just Mattis’ narrative.

Bjørg has made an off-the-shelf challenge and this is my contribution to a book by a Scandinavian author. It’s been on my shelf for nearly two years, so it was about time. Next round it will be a book set in Africa.