Jan Kjærstad: The Conqueror
Jonas Wergeland Trilogy 2: The Conqueror
Open Letter Books
28 February 2009 (USA)*
Jonas Wergeland is in prison for the murder of his wife. The most beloved and celebrated television personality in Norway, Wergeland’s programs on the history of Norway held the country in his thrall. The spectacle of his downfall has done the same.
A professor is hired to write the definitive biography of Wergeland, but finds himself unable to process the astonishing volume of contradictory information he unearths—until a mysterious woman appears on his doorstep. Possessing innumerable intimate stories about Jonas, the woman details the dark side of his rise to prominence, and through her stories tries to explain what made him a murderer.
Told in a series of short, interconnected, self-referential, and constantly evolving passages—each shooting off from the last like light from a prism and moving indifferently from the past to the present—Jan Kjaerstad has constructed a wonder of a novel whose form and subject explore what, in the apparent absence of simple cause and effect, makes life coherent.