Child Wonder A Novel

Graywolf Press



256 Pages


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Nine-year-old Finn and his mother find comfort in each other's company as they struggle to get by in a working-class suburb of Oslo. But when a half sister Finn never knew joins the household, their familiar routines are upset. Finn takes the girl under his wing over an idyllic summer on an island in Oslofjord, but he can't understand why everyone thinks his new sister is so different from other children. Nor can he fathom his mother's painful secret, one that pushes them ever further apart. As summer comes to a close, Finn must attempt to grasp the incomprehensible adult world and his place within it. Told in Finn's irrepressible voice, Child Wonder is a powerful and unsentimental portrait of childhood.


Praise for Child Wonder

"[Jacobsen] perfectly captures the perspective of a child who doesn't fully understand what's happening around him but knows when something's wrong . . . The warm, subtle humor and sympathetic characters are broadly appealing."—Library Journal
"More obviously artful than To Kill a Mockingbird, Child Wonder is as powerful and more contemporarily relevant."—Booklist
"Child Wonder is an exquisite exploration of childhood, a topic Jacobsen addresses with refreshing unsentimentality: it becomes at once a nightmare and intensely beautiful. He evokes the confusions and anxieties of a child left in the dimly lit emotional backwater of a dysfunctional household, reluctantly entangled in all the little knots that bind an unhappy family together."—The Times Literary Supplement
"[Roy Jacobsen] shares the blunt, gentle grace and narrative ease of his countryman Per Petterson . . . A gloriously intelligent novel that is so rewarding, funny, sad and human that the only advice to be given is to read it."—Eileen Battersby, The Irish Times
"[An] intricately worked novel, as rich in detail and implication as it is classical in construction and stylistic restraint . . . Jacobsen tells us in his foreword that Child Wonder is about an Oslo of 'rather rough experimentation. Before oil. Before anybody had any money at all.' This book is, even more, about the perennial sad irregularities of the human heart."—Paul Binding, The Independent

Reviews from Goodreads



Read an Excerpt

Roy Jacobsen is the author of several works of fiction, most recently The Burnt-Out Town of Miracles, which was short-listed for the Dublin IMPAC Award. Don Bartlett is the translator of Jo Nesbø, K. O. Dahl, and Pernille Rygg. Don Shaw is a teacher of Danish to foreigners and the author of a Danish-Thai dictionary.



  • Roy Jacobsen is one of the most celebrated and influential contemporary writers in Norway. He is the author of several works of fiction. Child Wonder was awarded the Norwegian Booksellers' Prize, and a prior novel, The Burnt-Out Town of Miracles, which was short-listed for the Dublin IMPAC Literary Award.