“Singer suffered from a peculiar feeling of shame, which did not bother him on a daily basis, but which surfaced now and then, like a memory of an embarrassing misunderstanding of some sort, and which made him stop, stiff as a poker, with a despairing look on his face, which he immediately concealed by putting his hands in front of it, while he exclaimed in a loud voice: – No, no, and this could happen anywhere, in the street, in a closed room, on the platform in a railway station, and he was always alone when it happened, but quite often in places where also other people were gathered, where they were walking back and forth, like in a street, or a park, in an exhibition, so that these others saw him stop, stiff as a poker, with his hands in front of his face and they heard him exclaim this despairing: – No, no.”
Thus opens Dag Solstad’s book T. Singer, which is his fourteenth novel in 30 years. The story begins when the main character, who is 34 years old and has recently completed his education as a librarian, takes the train to the small town Notodden to start a new and anonymous life as a librarian. This happens in the early 80s, and from that point onwards, the story continues up until the present.
The narrator himself claims that the novel is not a merry one, parts of it are all the same characterised by a poetic vigour which makes the humour quite conspicuous. At the same time, the narrator contributes to making this novel more explicitly existential than Solstad’s previous books.