Winner of the Brage Prize 2012
Shortlisted for the Critics’ Prize 2012
Longlisted for the Young People’s Critics’ Prize 2012
Longlisted for the P2 Listeners’ Prize 2012
The person I am writing this to cannot read. She cannot write, and not talk either, although the top experts in the country have tried teaching her for many years. Some words came along, and she did put them into use, but then they crumbled in her mouth. She used them differently than other people. She pronounced the words correctly, but didn’t know what they meant. She tasted them, sang them, tossed them around, so that they started to mean everything and nothing, and then they got mixed with her other sounds, got lost in her play with her tongue and her vocal chords, disappeared into the howl and the mumbling, and we didn’t hear them again.
As a young man he worked as a bus driver and dreamt of becoming a writer. One day, a girl stepped on to the bus. She looked at him in the mirror. When she got off, he left the bus in order to follow her. Now, their daughter has grown up and he is an established writer. Can he finally write the novel about her?
SING is a beautiful, deeply personal novel about life with a daughter who has autism. It is an attempt to write her story, and centers on how difficult that is, but also how important it is to understand a girl who cannot be understood.
“A shining novel filled with tenderness, tragedy and momentous scenes … Perhaps it is the naked temperament that makes Sing something new in his authorship… It leaves an author who aims directly at the flames, and at the same time brings about an equivalent openness in the reader. Gratefulness is the strongest feeling I am left with after reading Sing. It is a known phenomenon that every year, one author emerges and has their breakthrough after years of working quietly…This year, I hope it will be Lars Amund Vaage.”
“A heartbreakingly beautiful, vulnerable and wise novel about being the parent of an autistic child”
“Lars Amund Vaage writes movingly and honestly about how having a handicapped child can turn your life upside down. The theme is sensitive and tabooed, but Vaage treats it in a dignified and proper manner … beautiful and poetic”
“Vaage writes in a naked and direct way about having a child with autism, and the book houses a plethora of intelligent reflections on the link between life and language, words and the world … G lives in a foreign country, the author writes several times, and Vaage’s effort to reach this country in SING is moving and done with great respect for G. The book is well written, with concise sentences and aphoristic statements. But above all it’s a powerful book about those who are different”
“One of his sorest and most beautiful novels … Approaches and adaptions, closeness and distance, dignity and respect are key words pointing to a core in this quiet, beautiful novel about difficult and sensitive relationships. But it is also about the possibilities of the language to understand and cease the world.”
“A particular, challenging and vibrating literary deep-dive into an author’s attempt to write about his autistic daughter … It sheds a sort of new light over parts of the previous authorship. Of the many words that can be used to describe Sing, ‘small’ is not one of them … By making the novel about the daughter into a novel about the author, his literary vision and battle with the words, the difficult story in the last part gets a literary uplift of the kind that only arises from good art of writing … a high-level literary achievement … one of this autumn’s most and best charged Norwegian books.”
“Vaage reflects upon the connection between the words and the world, he discusses and questions the role of the writer – his thoughts about writing should be on the curriculum of writing schools. Vaage goes close up, intimately – he prods at sore, taboo topics. Yet the book holds a special dignity, thanks to the sensitive, poetic prose. It is not only a beautiful and delicate novel, it is great poetry, and Vaage is an artist of words …Sing is a reminder of why we need fiction. We can google diagnoses, read reports and scientific literature, but only an author can open up the language and search out the words that we cannot find.”
“Lars Amund Vaage’s novel Sing has one of the most moving openings I have read in a long time … Sing is a tender, quiet, sad song of praise to an autistic person … The sentences are transparent, and follow each other with a perceptible and finely tuned rhythmic precision … In a sober and unsentimental way, the author gives us access to the doubts, the frustrations, the challenges and the sorrow of having a child who is not like everyone else … In Sing, Vaage takes us to a dissonant universe, where the imminent ethical dilemma of linguistic reflection – what can the language hold, and who can speak for someone else – always resonates clearly.”