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the Complete Review
the complete review - fiction



Jan Kjærstad

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Title: Rand
Author: Jan Kjærstad
Genre: Novel
Written: 1990
Length: 272 pages
Original in: Norwegian
Availability: Rand - Deutschland
  • Rand has not been published in an English translation yet -- though the Aschehoug foreign rights page notes: "Complete English translation available"

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Our Assessment:

B : murderous existential cat and mouse game, with some decent touches

See our review for fuller assessment.

The complete review's Review:

       Rand is narrated by a computer software designer, under some pressure to complete a new project. Most of what he relates, however, are his wanderings around Oslo, and his encounters. He meets a number of people and engages in conversation on all sorts of topics with them, these strangers recounting their preoccupations or idle thoughts, lost souls trying to communicate. Unfortunately, most of these encounters come to an end with the narrator killing his conversation partner.
       Most of his interactions are of a dreamy, almost disembodied sort: he doesn't focus on any thrill or pleasure in killing, it's merely something he apparently feels compelled to do. He makes no excuses and offers few explanations, either; for the most part it's just another part of the day for him.
       Ingeborg comes into and out of his life, briefly here, then away for days at a time, flying across the globe, a love-interest who is only part of his life and not enough to fill it. Work places some demands on him, but he can handle these for the most part.
       The murders, which mystify the authorities and the press, as their seems to be no motive or explanation to them, unsettle all of otherwise tranquil Oslo. The narrator becomes fascinated especially by the journalist Lucy Holmen and her reports on the case, as well as the police investigation. Oddly, though the victims seem plucked at random, there are connexions between them: they were Jewish, they had all been to Tonga. A suspect is found -- though obviously not the right one.
       The murderer is more interested in his victims after he has killed them than before: their conversations rarely truly engaged him, but he's fascinated by what he learns about them once they become, in death, public figures.
       Rand is an odd existential thriller, which doesn't progress in the neat cat-and-mouse game manner one might at first suspect. Kjærstad's concerns are different ones, and his wondering, slightly too somnambulistic, parenthetical observation favouring narrator is not the most sympathetic anti-hero. Too meandering and ultimately too long, Rand isn't entirely compelling, but in it's unusual and uncompromising approach it is of some interest.

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Rand: Reviews: Jan Kjærstad: Other books by Jan Kjaerstad under review: Other books of interest under review:

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About the Author:

       Norwegian author Jan Kjærstad was born in 1953.

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