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Kathe – Always Been in Norway

Espen Søbye

Translated by Kerri Pierce

With a foreword by Sarah Wildman, USA

Conscientiously and in her best handwriting, fifteen-year-old Kathe Lasnik, a pupil at Oslo's Fagerborg School, completed the "Questionnaire for Jews in Norway." To the question "When did you come to Norway?" she answered, "I’ve always been in Norway." The questionnaire is dated November 16th, 1942. Ten days later, together with 532 other Jews, Kathe, her mother, her father and a sister were herded on board the troopship Donau. On December 1st Kathe Lasnik was murdered in the Auschwitz-Birkenau death camp. Two of her sisters managed to reach the safety of neutral Sweden in time.

Søbye employs a biographical technique to tell the story of a perfectly ordinary girl who grew up in Norway during the interwar years. His source-based account charts the course of Kathe Lasnik's family from the day her parents arrived in Kristiania in 1908 as refugees from Vilnius to settle on the east side of the inner city, through to their persecution, deportation and eventual murder, the murder of a Norwegian family. The author encounters considerable difficulties with the micro-historical method he has chosen to adopt, because a determined attempt was made to wipe the family off the face of the earth, to which end all belongings, papers and photographs having to do with the family members were destroyed.

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Om bullshit

Harry G. Frankfurt

The Norwegian translation of ON BULLSHIT

From Princeton University Press:

One of the most salient features of our culture is that there is so much bullshit. Everyone knows this. Each of us contributes his share. But we tend to take the situation for granted. Most people are rather confident of their ability to recognize bullshit and to avoid being taken in by it. So the phenomenon has not aroused much deliberate concern. We have no clear understanding of what bullshit is, why there is so much of it, or what functions it serves. And we lack a conscientiously developed appreciation of what it means to us. In other words, as Harry Frankfurt writes, "we have no theory."

Frankfurt, one of the world's most influential moral philosophers, attempts to build such a theory here. With his characteristic combination of philosophical acuity, psychological insight, and wry humor, Frankfurt proceeds by exploring how bullshit and the related concept of humbug are distinct from lying. He argues that bullshitters misrepresent themselves to their audience not as liars do, that is, by deliberately making false claims about what is true. In fact, bullshit need not be untrue at all.

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Fordervelsens lakeier

Bobby Peruz

“The footmen of Depravity”

"Fordervelsens lakeier" is a raw, satirical novel. It tells the story of men in the middle of their combat that no longer have the ability to acknowledge that man in basic is good. The novel is a ruthless story about unscrupulous men, bottomless villainy and the decay of morality. It’s humorous, challenging and includes an original, caricatured gallery of persons that will set their mark.

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Praise for the Norwegian version of Kathe - Always Been in Norway (2003) in VG:

"This talented, literary pedagogue manages to portray the many by telling of an individual. Kathe’s story will be the story of the Norwegian Jews. It is gripping reading (…) Søbye’s book is a worthy addition to our body of war literature"

In 2017:

"Kathe - Always Been in Norway" was named the second-best Norwegian non-fiction published after 1945 in the category of biographies by the members of the Norwegian Non-fiction Writers and Translators Association.

In 2018:

"Kathe - Always Been in Norway" was selected to be one of the 10 best Scandinavian non-fiction books published after year 2000. The jury consisted of nine distinguished critics, writers and researchers but together by the newspapers Morgenbladet, Aftonbladet, Weekendavisen, a.o., in collaboration with Norwegian Literature festival.

Sarpsborg Arbeiderblad:

"The reader will also be impressed by the way this superlative biography demonstrates that sources can be used stringently to portray “ordinary” people’s lives and times, not just the lives of celebrities"


"An exciting book about the fate of a normal person caught up in the maelstrom of history"


"Espen Søbye’s book is a heart-rending, but thoroughly clear-headed record"


"This talented, literary pedagogue manages to portray the many by telling of an individual. Kathe’s story will be the story of the Norwegian Jews. It is gripping reading (…) Søbye’s book is a worthy addition to our body of war literature" (VG)


"The book is a unique record of a person’s life, a person only allowed to live for fifteen years. What’s more, its themes, methods and approach make it an unusually important addition to research into the Nazi occupation of Norway (…) An episode in the history of the occupation – the persecution of the Jews – has now been recorded and elucidated better than ever before"

"Norway has found her Anne Frank"

Aftenposten, Nov. 2003

“…a heart-rending, but thoroughly clear-headed documentation.”

Dagbladet, Dec 1. 2003 (Halvor Elvik, book reviewer)

“Søbye’s portrait of Kathe Lasnik is not just a powerful book; it is also a kind of necessity.”

Klassekampen, Dec 2003