The Unfinished House
Shortlisted for the P2 Listeners’ Novel Prize
The day in 1889 when Gabriel Hallvardson is born is a black day on the Hauge farm – it is also the day that his mother and twin brother die. Gabriel grows up on this place beside the fjord, a place that people leave, one way or the other, and where eventually the only ones who are left to attend to things are his grandmother and his thoughtful uncle Helge.
Helge sees that Gabriel has an unusual way with words and helps him to enroll at a nearby folk college. Here Gabriel’s life will start anew, and his powers will be unleashed, just as the nation of Norway will find its way. But what will happen with the farm when the old people are gone? Who will tend to the fields, cut trees, and row the boat to get the doctor when he is needed?
The Unfinished House is a novel about coming to writing from an earthbound, taciturn place, where there is no room for fiction, and about expressing yourself in a new language in a new country fumbling for its own identity. Vaage has written a gripping portrait of a young man torn between his sense of duty and the calling of an artist.