Doghead A Novel

Morten Ramsland; Translated by Tiina Nunnally

St. Martin's Griffin



Trade Paperback

384 Pages


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Winner of the Danish Best Novel and Best Author Awards in 2009

Doghead is a highly imaginative, exuberant saga that follows three generations of a wildly dysfunctional Norwegian family. When Asger, the narrator, visits his dying grandma, he learns that contrary to popular belief, Grandpa was not a war hero. Instead, his nickname was "Crackpot," and both before and after he escaped from a Nazi concentration camp, he was a cheat and a liar. From there the real family history unfolds, and like all great stories, it is a tale that will stay with the reader forever.


Praise for Doghead

"Rambunctious, often imaginative . . . shares [John] Irving's frank disregard for taboos and his fondness for extravagantly improbable situations."—The New York Times

"A huge international success . . . combines rambunctiousness, salty humor and poetic imagination."—Independent on Sunday (UK), Books of the Year

"A book reminiscent of Grass' The Tin Drum in its humor and Angela's Ashes in its heartfelt affection . . . the family novel par excellence."—Stern (Germany)

"For fans of John Irving and T. C. Boyle."—Lübecker Nachrichten (Germany)

"Already a huge success in Europe . . . Doghead is brilliant, exhilarating, and haunting."—Booklist (starred review)

"So entertaining readers will want to devour it in a sitting or two."—Library Journal (starred review)

"For years, Asger Erikkson, the narrator of Ramsland's funny and touching novel, has struggled to keep his family history buried. But when Asger is called home to Denmark to the deathbed of his beloved Grandma Bjørk, the stories spill forth, out of order and out of control. First, they summon long-suppressed guilt (Asger caused his grandfather, who survived Buchenwald, to collapse by tricking him into drinking urine, for instance) and then spiral outward, filling in the many blanks from three generations of the Erikkson family. Nuttiness and depravity abound, as Asger's grandfather's many character flaws are revealed, a son is born in a filthy privy, cousins fall in love and an increasingly ill Bjørk begins to babble about a hidden fortune. In his first novel to be translated into English (it won the Danish Best Novel award), Ramsland masterfully captures a zigzagging litany of recollections across generations and the cold North Sea, revealing the family's true fortune: survival in the space between deep dysfunction and enduring love."—Publishers Weekly (starred review)

"The American debut of an award-winning Danish novel, a bestseller throughout Europe. On his return to Norway after imprisonment in a concentration camp, Askild Eriksson is hailed as a hero. Children on the street call him 'The Carpenter' because he clobbered a German soldier on the head with a stick. It turns out, though, that Askild is more of a war profiteer than a principled resister. By the time the Nazis captured him, he had already made a small fortune by stealing their lumber and selling it back to them. As Askild's wife is dying, her grandson, Asger, determines to unearth his family's true story before it is buried forever . . . Asger, an unobtrusive and trusting narrator, is willing to accept that his father, Niels, was, as a boy, guided by the ghostly voice and dubious prophecies of Rasmus 'The Fang' Svensson, Niels's great-grandfather. Asger is similarly unwilling to pass judgment on Niels's folkloric experience in a Norwegian forest: The fact that it may have been fueled by psychedelic mushrooms does not subtract from its truth value. An earthy, funny, unflinching family history."—Kirkus Reviews

Reviews from Goodreads



  • Morten Ramsland; Translated by Tiina Nunnally

  • Morten Ramsland, born in 1971, has degrees in Danish and art history. Doghead is his first book to be published in English. A huge bestseller in Denmark, it won four major literary prizes there including Author of the Year, Book of the Year, the Reader's Prize, and the most prestigious prize for literature, the Golden Laurel Prize. It has also won the Premio Berto and Premio Edoardo Kihlgren 2nd Prize in Italy.

  • Morten Ramsland © Karin Munk