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Norwegian by Night Hardcover – May 21, 2013

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt; 1 edition (May 21, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0547934874
  • ISBN-13: 978-0547934877
  • Product Dimensions: 9.1 x 6 x 1.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (203 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #481,965 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

*Starred Review* Sheldon Horowitz has outlived everyone he’s known, except his granddaughter, Rhea, who fears he suffers from dementia and convinces him to move from Manhattan to Oslo, where she lives with her Norwegian husband. So the 82-year-old finds himself in a strange land, bemused by placid, orderly Norwegians. When a young woman is murdered in his apartment building, Sheldon shelters her young son and sets out to find a refuge for him. But the killer is a brutal Kosovar war criminal, and Sheldon must rely on his Korean War scout-sniper training to evade the killer. No brief plot outline can do justice to a book that deserves to find a place on a few best-of-the-year lists. Sheldon is a brilliantly imagined character, a true mensch, made of Greatest Generation stuff. His wife and Rhea believed he was a mere file clerk, not a wounded combat hero. Only his son, who died in Vietnam following Sheldon’s example, knew the real story, and Sheldon dreams nightly of being on patrol in Vietnam with him. Miller keeps the reader guessing about Sheldon’s dementia. Might he simply be an old man appropriately focused on past and present rather than the future? Oslo police inspector Sigrid Odegard, hunting the killer, is another wonderful creation, and her phone conversations with her farmer father are often wry, archetypally Scandinavian debates. Miller joins the ranks of Stieg Larsson, Henning Mankell, and Jo Nesbø, the holy trinity of Scandinavian crime novelists. Norwegian by Night is very different than their work but equally satisfying. --Thomas Gaughan


Best New Crime Writer of the Year: Winner of the CWA 2013 John Creasey Dagger Award

"Has the brains of a literary novel and the body of a thriller."
New York Times

"Truly a page-turner...Norwegian by Night is about past wars and present-day ethnic strife, family, grief, guilt and, ultimately, redemption. Korea (and phantom Koreans), Vietnam, the Holocaust, ethnic identity — Serb, Norwegian, Muslim, and yes, Jewish — these are the true characters of the novel....Funny, moving and thoroughly gripping."
Jewish Week

"A stunning examination of how our lives shape our character, and how our allegiances shape our destiny."
— Bethanne Patrick, AARP (1 of "12 Summer Reads for 2013")

"Derek B. Miller's debut novel, Norwegian by Night, is about aging snipers. Or, it's about parenting and loss. Or, the lingering traces of the Korean and Vietnam Wars. It feels about as full as life itself, and almost as real."
—Jessica Young, Jewniverse

"[A] beautifully-written contribution to Nordic noir with a twist. It cleverly avoids many the genre’s clichés and pitfalls and emerges triumphant as a fully-dimensional gem."
—From the John Creasey Dagger Award Judges' Citation

"Both an exciting chase thriller and a poignant story about a man who comes into his own again in his dotage." --Library Journal

"No brief plot outline can do justice to a book that deserves to find a place on a few best-of-the-year lists. Sheldon is a brilliantly imagined character, a true mensch, made of Greatest Generation stuff...Miller joins the ranks of Stieg Larsson, Henning Mankell, and Jo Nesbø, the holy trinity of Scandinavian crime novelists."

--Booklist, starred

"Miller's affecting debut, about a cantankerous Jewish widower transplanted to Norway who becomes party to a hate crime, is an unusual hybrid: part memory novel, part police procedural, part sociopolitical tract and part existential meditation. Miller, an American living in Oslo...makes the setting a powerful character...The novel, first published in Norway, was worth the wait."

--Kirkus Reviews

"A literate, thoughtful and unusual thriller...Our image of Scandinavia is one of tolerance — Miller doesn’t disagree with the image, but Norwegian by Night offers a fascinating fictional exploration of the meaning and implementation of that tolerance."

--The Times (UK)

"Norwegian by Night has all the ingredients of a top-notch thriller, but it's the superb characterisation of the protagonist that fuels true suspense. Funny and moving as well as thoroughly gripping, this is crime fiction of the highest order." --The Guardian

"Much more than an enjoyable thriller. It is a beautifully written tale of love and loss...One of the best novels of the year."—Jenni Frazer, The Jewish Chronicle (UK)

"This highly visual storytelling reads like a first draft of the script for an action-packed, emotionally satisfying movie, one that will appeal to both sexes." Jewish Book Council

Norwegian by
Night's n ot just a great title, it's also a soulful, humane, and sparklingly funny novel. Spend some time with Sheldon and company in the Scandinavian wilderness and you just might make peace with your god, your ghosts, and yourself. -- Gary Shteyngart, author of Super Sad True Love Story

"Brilliant, serious literary crime and our favorite thing, Scandi-noir, but with a twist..." - Erica Wagner, The Times '100 people to watch in 2013' (UK)

"NORWEGIAN BY NIGHT is an outrageously intelligent thriller, and its philosopher-sniper hero, Sheldon Horowitz, is a character who'll stay in your brain for decades. You might come for the guns and the ruckus, but by the last page, with your heart still pounding, you'll be crying at all the goddamned beauty and love in the world." - Patrick Somerville, author of This Bright River  and The Cradle

"Norwegian by Night shifts along like an inquisitive wind, with characters who enter your mind so easily it’s as if they’ve been there all along, and a voice so confident you would follow it into a leaning house. Generous with its wit, dazzling in its cultural and historical reach, Derek Miller’s novel is the kind of sweep-you-up tale a reader always wants but rarely finds, the kind where you stand in the bookstore reading the opening pages and whisper, This is the one."—Leif Enger, bestselling author of Peace Like a River

"Have you ever lucked into one of those novels so taut and suspenseful that you can't turn the pages fast enough, yet, at the same time, so magnificently written and psychologically incisive that you find yourself unable to turn those same pages slowly enough? Such novels are as rare as great comets. Norwegian by Night, I'm happy to report, is one. Make sure you're in a comfortable spot when cracking this book; you won't be putting it down for an obscenely long while."—Jonathan Miles, author of Dear American Airlines

"Humane, blackly funny, heartbreaking, full of believable people and with a touching, magnificent hero in Sheldon, this is one of the best books I’ve read this year. Verdict: Brilliant."Herald Sun (Australia)

"Norwegian By Night [is] ostensibly a Scandinavian thriller yet recalls Saul Bellow and Philip Roth’s more cerebral creations…A remarkably confident debut that is at once a rich psychological study, a political ­parable that seems to be about America’s compulsion to intervene abroad, and a moving story of an old man’s last chance to slay his demons."—John Dydale, The Sunday Times (UK)

"A stunningly good debut thriller, subtle and moving, with a truly original hero…Literate, elegant and compelling."—Marcel Berlins, The Times (UK)

"From the synopsis, it is impossible to harness all the themes and subtlety of prose that this book conveys to the reader. On one level, not only does the book contain all the quintessential elements of a Scandinavian crime novel, it also encompasses the Korean, Vietnam, and Balkan conflicts, and on a more emotional level, presents a poignant and meditative examination of aging and regret…I would urge everyone to read this exceptional debut, with its powerful and emotive themes…[as well as] all the tension of a totally authentic Scandinavian crime thriller. I cannot praise it highly enough, and Norwegian By Night could well be one of my top crime reads of the year. Outstanding."

—Raven Crime Reads (blog)

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Customer Reviews

Funny, entertaining, and well written.
I found the primary character interesting, I loved the writing style & the story was well developed & engaging.
It is a long, lo-o-ong time since a book made me cry.
Sue Kichenside

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

52 of 52 people found the following review helpful By Sue Kichenside on February 8, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition
It is a long, lo-o-ong time since a book made me cry. Truly cry. And a book that made me laugh and cry? Never.

This is the most dazzling debut. Where has Derek B. Miller been? Where does he spring from? The back fly-leaf of Norwegian By Night tells us that he was born and raised in Boston and now lives in Oslo with his wife and children. He is the director of The Policy Lab and a senior fellow with the UN Institute for Disarmament Research. He has a PhD from the University of Geneva and an MA from Georgetown University in co-operation with St. Catherine's College, Oxford. "But enough with the credentials already," as Miller might have his hero, Sheldon, say. "Get on with the plot!"

Which is this: Sheldon Horowitz is a grumpy, guilt-driven 82-year old war vet who lives in New York and is recently widowed. His grand-daughter insists that he come to live with her and her Norwegian husband in Oslo. There are only 1000 Jews in Norway amongst a population of five million. Sheldon is one of them. How will he adjust? And should he interfere when he hears a violent argument erupting from the upstairs flat where a woman and her son are clearly in terrible trouble? To his mind, Europe turned a deaf ear and a blind eye to the Jews' plight in the Second World War; he is not going to make the same mistake. Instead, he makes another. A different and devastating one.

Well, the road to hell is paved with good intentions. This book is packed with them too. Sheldon is a remarkable, unique and highly memorable character. Can the author really have conjured this tragicomic creation out of thin air?
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15 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Bookreporter on July 8, 2013
Format: Hardcover
I am totally knocked out by NORWEGIAN BY NIGHT, a thriller crossed with a fish-out-of-water sensibility. But this fish is much smarter than the land dwellers among which it finds itself. Sheldon Horowitz is the fish, the United States is his water, and the land is Oslo, Norway. Horowitz, an 82-year-old Marine, is Stephen Hunter's Bob Lee Swagger with a touch of Being There's Chauncey Gardiner. Throw in a bit of Fargo and THE ADVENTURES OF HUCKLEBERRY FINN (which is referenced and quoted here), and imagine Elmore Leonard overseeing the whole thing, and you have NORWEGIAN BY NIGHT.

This is not to say that the book is a well-done pastiche. Author Derek B. Miller, an American who resides in Oslo, has created a unique, character-driven debut work all his own, which is by turns exciting, sad, uplifting, literate and, above all, readable. Horowitz, a widower and former watch repairman, has been grudgingly expatriated from the comfortable and familiar environs of New York and resettled none too easily into the Oslo apartment that he shares with Rhea, his well-meaning granddaughter, and Lars, her almost too-good-to-be-true new husband. Rhea, raised practically since birth by her grandfather and deceased grandmother, is a dutiful offspring, though she is somewhat at loose ends as to how to deal with the dementia that has a loose but nonetheless determined grip upon Horowitz's thought processes. A Korean War veteran who may or may not have seen combat duty, Horowitz imagines that every Korean he sees (and a few who he doesn't) holds a grudge against him as the result of his military service. He also carries a boatload of guilt over the death of his only son --- the father who Rhea never knew --- in Vietnam.
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful By sbrod on September 15, 2012
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Well written crime novel. Set in Oslo, it covers the issue of displacement, as an elderly American moves to be with his granddaughter in a new country. It then explores the main protagonist's reflections on his life. The accomplishments and regrets, and plays this out against a backdrop of crime and and an unlikely collaboration with a young boy. They do not share a language or culture but share a bond based on witnessing a horrific crime together. An excellent character driven thriller.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By S. G. VINE VOICE on June 1, 2013
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Like another reviewer already wrote, this book made me cry like a baby and do so frequently. It also made me laugh so hard I cried. Mr. Miller is an absolutely phenomenal writer. Each character has a significantly different sounding voice. The only thing that seems at all similar is the lyricism of their thoughts and words-- it's too bad the average person doesn't speak with such piercing directness.

Not only is this a tour de force of unbelievable strength when it comes to depicting the life of Sheldon "Donny" Horowitz, but the detail and understanding of the various political and social problems impacting Norway are dealt with in a way that is extremely educational without being condescending or overly simplified.

It's hard to stuff this novel into a category. Yes, there are cops, a murder, a suspect and all the items that attend that genre. But then there is Sheldon. There is no way a book with a leading character as dynamic as Sheldon will allow itself to be put in a genre.

The writing is absolutely spectacular. I was so afraid for Sheldon and Paul every minute of the book it was hard to put it down and walk away, leaving them alone.

There are parts of the book that definitely remind me of Vonnegut's masterpiece, "Slaughterhouse Five". That said, this is in no way derivative.

Mr. Miller is truly a genius when it comes to descriptive phrases. Here is but one of the many, this particular passage describing a boatload of people disembarking from a Carnival cruise ship: "They flow from the gangplank like thick blubber from a wounded white whale".

I'm not sure why so many reviewers have found this plot complicated. Seriously?
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