‘Solstad doesn’t write to please other people. Do exactly what you want, that’s my idea…the drama exists in his voice’ Lydia Davis
Armand is a diplomat rising through the ranks of the Norwegian foreign office, but he’s caught between his public duty to support foreign wars in the Middle East and his private disdain of Western intervention. He hides behind his knowing ironic statements about the war, which no one grasps and which change nothing in the real world. Armand’s son joins the Norwegian SAS to fight in the Middle East, despite being specifically warned against such a move by his father, which leads to catastrophic, heartbreaking consequences.
Told exclusively in footnotes to an unwritten novel, this is Solstad's radically unconventional novel about how we experience the passing of time: how it fragments, drifts, quickens, and how single moments can define a life.
Winner of the Brage Prize
An experimental novel by a Norwegian veteran, who is loved by Karl Ove Knausgaard, Haruki Murakami and Peter Handke… Very unusual – and in the end, very deep.
Solstad is expert in delineating the absurdities of existence… Solstad exposes us to ourselves. [T]he reader is deeply rewarded in the end.
Solstad's novels are full of dryly comic, densely existential despair . . . Death occupies the space between each of the footnotes that make up the corpus of Armand V, but what Solstad ultimately celebrates in it is the freedom of the novelist, and of the novel form.
Solstad describes Armand V as a series of “ongoing but distorted footnotes to an unwritten novel”. That sounds experimental but it soon feels as comfortable as a pair of old suede shoes. After about 30 pages Solstad mentions how, in the composition of a novel, he becomes conscious of the point, sometimes 30 or 40 pages back, when “the whole thing went off the rails”. He then starts over from that point, implicitly to get it back on the rails. It’s an extraordinary claim. I mean, the idea that, for Solstad, a novel needs rails. In his weirdly hypnotic way isn’t this what he is always railing against?
All of the whispers have been right: Solstad is a vital novelist.