Journalist and author Cecilie Enger has won this year’s Bokhandlerprisen (Booksellers’ Prize) for her gripping novel about her mother’s dementia, death “and much more,” as publisher Gyldendal Norsk Forlag describes it. The book already has won rave reviews in Norway and been on the Norwegian bestsellers’ list since its debut earlier this year.
Enger, who has worked for newspaper Dagens Næringsliv (DN) for many years, has also written several other highly acclaimed books, but broke new ground with her novel Mors gaver (Mother’s gifts).
It’s based on her discovery, while helping to clear out her childhood home, of lists carefully maintained by her mother, year after year, of what everyone in the family had given each other and received at Christmas. The gifts chronicle the family’s history and fortunes, as well as reflect Norwegian cultural history, while Enger’s book also dwells on the art of giving gifts.
The prize was awarded by Norway’s new government minister in charge of cultural affairs, Thorild Widvey, at the Literature House in Oslo on Tuesday. It’s based on a vote by employees of bookstores all over the country.
Enger said she was “incredibly grateful” for the prize, not least since it was the booksellers themselves who voted for her book, “those who live off of reading and dealing with books.”
Enger faced tough competition from other popular authors and books nominated for the annual prize, including Jon Michelet for his books on a seafarer’s life that has topped the bestseller lists in Norway, and crime writer Jørn Lier Horst for his book Hulemannen (The Cave Man).
The prestigious Booksellers’ Prize was first awarded in 1948. Book store employees vote in two rounds, the first to come up with the nominations and the second to select the winner that they think is the best book of the year.
Enger’s Mors gaver has already been sold for distribution in Germany.