“[Before I Burn’s] power is not in who did it or even why, but in the brutal clarity of Heivoll’s unhurried and mesmerizing sentences, pushing through a chilly landscape like the steady shining of blue headlights.”—Harper’s Magazine
In 1970s Norway, an arsonist targets a small town for one long, terrifying month. One by one, buildings go up in flames. Suspicion spreads among the neighbors as they wonder if one of their own is responsible. But as the heat and panic rise, new life finds a way to emerge. Amid the chaos, only a day after the last house is set afire, the community draws together for the christening of a young boy named Gaute Heivoll. As he grows up, stories about the time of fear and fire become deeply engrained in his young mind until, as an adult, he begins to retell the story. At the novel’s apex at a literary festival in Italy, the lives of Heivoll’s friends and neighbors mix with his own life as the identity of the arsonist and his motivations are slowly revealed. Based on the true account of Norway’s most dramatic arson case, Before I Burn is a powerful, gripping breakout novel from an exceptionally talented author.
Before I Burn by Gaute Heivoll (used)
Graywolf Press 2014
Used hardcover in very good condition