The Helpful Occupant
The year is 1943. The German major Welser arrives in a coastal town in Northern Norway to supervise the building of the Atlantic Wall. Welser wants a good relationship with the locals and has brought along his red Baedeker travel guide, along with guidelines for contact with the Norwegians. He encounters skepticism and silence, but…
The year is 1943. The German major Welser arrives in a coastal town in Northern Norway to supervise the building of the Atlantic Wall. Welser wants a good relationship with the locals and has brought along his red Baedeker travel guide, along with guidelines for contact with the Norwegians. He encounters skepticism and silence, but gradually people also start coming to him with their problems.
The Norwegian winter is cold, and there are rumours of German defeats. Welser clings to the belief in victory, at the same time as his eyes are opened to something new and revitalising: a young and independent boy, Terje, with blonde, unruly hair and a explosive temper. He is the most beautiful creature Welser has ever seen.
The Helpful Occupant offers a powerful, original depiction of the final phase of WW2, seen from the perspective of the occupant. The everyday life of war in the tiny Norwegian town is like a pressure cooker, where brutality and tragedy can suddenly erupt.
Praise for The Helpful Occupant:
“Ericsson is a skilled, sometimes burlesque portrayer of everyday life … the novel offers interesting associations to many great international novels: Curzio Malaparte … W.G. Sebald … Thomas Mann”
“an interesting exploration of the relationship between an occupying power and an occupied people, seen from the perspective of the former”
“Acerbic and uncanny about an occupying power … The narrator keeps distance, but sometimes steps forward with elegant and brave opinions … The novel has a good and interesting take on the unfathomable abyss between occupant and occupied”
5/6 stars, Trønder-avisa
“An insightful depiction of war … makes me think about Curzio Malaparte, and his incomprehensibly brutal descriptions from WW2 in Ukraine … On literary terms, Kjersti Ericsson is a craftswoman on a high level. Her depictions of the coastal community are good, and here and there she spices up both small and big events with flashes of humour – often with a sting … a good book which says a lot about everyday life during the war in a peripheral community”
5/6 stars, Fædrelandsvennen