Down in Heaven
”The toy train in the window drove around and around like it had done every Christmas, and with every round it was like the city, not the miniature one, but the real one, expanded around us and I only got an idea of how much I could experience, not just in this city, but in other cities, in other countries, how many houses I could visit, how many people I would meet, how far I could get if I just didn’t let anything ruin it for me.”
It is the winter before the moon landing in 1969. Goggen has come home from his stay in a juvenile detention centre, where he was sent for stabbing his father. At Tove’s house, a two bedroom flat on the eighth floor in an apartment building in the suburb, foreign seamen visit, and there is an ambience of hospitality and generosity, but at night her parents fight and her mother expects her daughter’s loyalty. Goggen is the only person Tove trusts, but in the course of this winter they are irrevocably driven apart.
The adult narrator wants to find out why things turned out the way they did for Tove and Goggen, why were they the ones to end up like the unsolvable pieces of the puzzle? Tove Nilsen returns to the social set and personas from Skyscraper Angels, Skyscraper Summer and G for George. Oslo’s suburban life in the late sixties comes to life in this book; Nilsen enters a familiar landscape and makes it appear brand new.
Praise for “Down in Heaven”:
“Tove Nilsen’s new novel is portayed in a way which should place it among this autumn’s best novels”
“It feels good to be in Nilsen’s universe … Few people portay the birth and life of the suburbs. The transformation from countryside to concrete. The mixture of people from all over the country and every class … Down in Heaven richly exhibits a time when baby care was part of the curriculum for 10 year old girls, and a block of flats was raised by using horses”
“Deep and heavenly…Childhood novels from the Oslo area are being written by several of Tove Nilsen’s generation, and they write quite well: Lars Saabye Christensen, Roy Jakobsen, Per Petterson. If it had been a competition, Tove Nilsen would have beat them all, and beat them thoroughly, if you ask me. She has written Down in Heaven in such a precise, sharp, funny, pensive, sensitive and inquiring way… She writes brilliantly… Nilsen’s ability to portray lucid scenes and sharp images is especially powerful in Down in Heaven… It is beautiful”
Dag og Tid
“In light, flowing prose the text describes a familiar universe in a new way, through finely tuned memories, impressions and reflections. Thus, the portrait of the young Tove is characterised by sensitivity and vulnerability.
“Tove Nilsen has hit the target again with her description of blues and ecstasy in Bøler … Tove Nilsen greatest strength as an author is the way she, with apparant ease, wanders 40 years back in time and unites the experience of youth with the adult narrator’s more melancholy view… (the book) contains so much more than apartment buildings, and … there is something of Tove and Goggen in all of us”
“Well oiled nostalgia … Sensitivity in outlook and language raises many of the familiar childhood tableaus … An independent and sensitive literary language is compellingly present in the publication of the year”
”a beautiful, relevant and stirring story about how two people that love each other suddenly disappear from one another. … Tove Nilsen triumphs with her comprehension of the human mind, a love and sensitivity for the dilemma of choices which lift this book to the rank of one of this fall’s reigning stars.”
”Classy… Thought-provoking, rich and touching.”
”Real, intelligent and sincerely conveyed. … Nilsen writes in a way that makes everything relevant to us, even if Suburbia seems ever so far away. It is as if this story has been maturing in the author for a long time; it feels important. The feelings, the attempts to map, remember, and comprehend are so precise, tender, and immediate that the characters of the novel live with us for a long, long time.”
5/6 stars, VG – The Best Books of 2010
”a delightful read….one of the finest books this fall. …With this novel, Tove Nilsen shows that she is not only one of the best portrayers of Oslo among Norwegian fiction writers, but also among the Norwegian authors with the most insight into family situations and teenage daily lives. In other words, Down in Heaven reaches new heights – a delightful read.”
”This novel is a pure gift from Nilsen to us. One we can sincerely be thankful for! …Tove Nilsen combines the professionalism and experience of writing 30-some books with the memory of an elephant, the expression of an artist, and the wisdom of a mature adult. In such, the result is a book to be remembered.”