Shyness and Dignity. May 24, 2020

This is a mostly gloomy, occasionally hilarious take on modern middle-class life. Middle-aged highschool teacher Elias Rukla stops at a roundabout and starts reminiscing about his entire adulthood, slowly finding out that he’s become only a supporting character in his own life, and perhaps has been for a long time. A more conventional novel would follow that insight with a sequence of actions Elias would take to fix that situation, but Solstad is not interested in that, keeping the focus on the past instead. When I finished this book, I thought it was missing a “real” ending, but now I realize that it doesn’t need one: Elias has been living a lie and something has to change, even if we don’t get to find out exactly what.