The Discoverer


by Jan Kjaerstad

September 15, 2009
novel | hc | 504 pgs
5.5" x 8.5"

"Jan Kjaerstad is a Viking of literature.”

The final novel in a trilogy of books about the Norwegian television celebrity Jonas Wergeland, The Discovererfinds Jonas released from prison, having completed his sentence for the death of his wife. He has taken a job as a secretary aboard the Voyager, a ship which is exploring the far reaches of the Sognefjord—the longest fjord in the world. On the ship, Jonas works for a team of young people—including his daughter, Kristin—who are engaged in a multimedia project that is seeking to chart every aspect of the fjord in a new medium that merges text, image, film, and design. 

While the crew seeks to document the fjord, Jonas is busy exploring his past. For the first time in the trilogy he is allowed to tell his own story, and on board the ship he begins to recreate a manuscript that he wrote in prison, a book which he has already destroyed once, a book which seeks to explore the central mystery at the heart of Jonas's existence: the life and death of his wife Margrete. 

The Discoverer stands alone as a masterful novel in its own right—multivocal, throwing story after story aloft and examining each from numerous angles, and all at once. Incredibly, it also serves as the perfect complement to The Seducer and The Conqueror, both deepening the mysteries contained in those two novels and revealing the bottomlessness of so many others. Jan Kjaerstad once again draws us into the Wergeland universe, and he takes us on a journey that promises to finally discover the truth about Jonas's life, and his wife’s death.

Translated from the Norwegian by Barbara Haveland


About the Author: Jan Kjaerstad made his debut as a writer in 1980 with a short story collection, The Earth Turns Quietly. The three books making up the Wergeland trilogy—The SeducerThe Conqueror, and The Discoverer (forthcoming from Open Letter in 2009)—have achieved huge international success, and led to Kjaerstad receiving the Nordic Prize for Literature in 2001. He has also received Germany’s Henrik Steffen Prize for Scandinavians who have significantly enriched Europe’s artistic and intellectual life.

"Veering from the broadly comic to the beautifully sad, with detours for deadpan mediations on the 'Norwegian national character,' this book is not just big, but big-hearted."
New York Times

"One of the most influential writers of his generation. Say his name, and I think of Milan Kundera, Martin Amis, and Frank Zappa."
—Linn Ullmann