Comeback for author Ari Behn

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He’s the Norwegian author who did well with his first book, became a celebrity and married a princess, but then never quite achieved the same success as an author as he did before his royal marriage. Now, 12 years later, he’s back at his original publisher and doing well once again.

Author Ari Behn, shown here with his wife, Princess Martha Louise, at one of the many memorials held for terror victims last month. PHOTO: NRK/Views and News

“I’ve stopped reading reviews (of his books),” Behn claimed to newspaper Aftenposten last week. “It seemed like they (book reviewers) were only reviewing me, not what I wrote. It just got noisy, and I couldn’t stand any more.”

Behn likely would enjoy reading the reviews of his latest book, which has scored almost as well as his first one back in 1999. Publishing company Kolon Forlag already has taken Behn’s Talent for lykke (Talent for happiness) into a second printing, after both newspapers VG and Dagbladet gave it their highest rating of six. The new print run comes just a week after the book hit the stores and sold very well indeed.

Reviewers have praised the “intensity, nerve and vulnerability” of the book, which is a collection of what Behn himself calls “short stories.”

Ari Behn's new book

“I cut and cut and cut,” he told Aftenposten. “I try to say the most possible in the shortest possible space.”

Behn published the novels Bakgård (Backyard) in 2003, Enthusiasme og raseri (Enthusiasm and fury) in 2006 and Vivian Seving etc in 2009 before trying his hand at writing a play that was staged by Rogaland Theater on the west coast. He also played a major role in a rather odd television show that featured encounters with highly unusual characters around the world.

As usual, Behn got a lot of free publicity when the various projects hit the market, because the Norwegian press seems fascinated with what the husband of Princess Martha Louise is doing. This time, the flurry of press around his latest book seems justified.

He’s not finished with his attempts to dabble in the theatrical world. He said he’s writing a new “one act” play that will be finished next month. He hopes to present it to the head of Norway’s National Theater in Oslo “and see where it ends up.”

Judging by Behn’s connections, self-assuredness and celebrity, he probably stands a pretty good chance of getting his foot in the door, and on the stage.

Views and News from Norway/Nina Berglund
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