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November 28, 2022 61 min

The Ice Palace or Is-slottet by Tarjei Vesaas is a 20th century classic by one of Norway’s greatest modern writers. First published by Gyldendal in 1963, it went on to win the Nordic Council Literary Prize in 1964. In 1966, it was published in Elizabeth Rokkan’s English translation by Peter Owen who described it as the best novel he ever published. To discuss it we’re joined by friend of the show Max Porter – who’s surprised it isn’t the most famous book in the world – and by another great Norwegian, Karl Ove Knaussgård, who agrees but who also think’s Vessas’s The Birds ( or Fuglane), published six years earlier, might be even better. We discuss both books in their English translations (recently released as Penguin Modern Classics) and Karl Ove treats us to a reading from the beginning of The Ice Palace in Norwegian. This episode also features Andy sharing his pleasure and deep amusement at Bob Dylan’s latest book – The Philosophy of Modern Song (Simon & Schuster) while John is moved by Emergency, Daisy Hildyard’s darkly beautiful novel about a rural Northern childhood overshadowed by presentiments of the coming climate disaster (Fitzcarraldo Editions).

Timings: (may differ due to variable advert length)

4:18 - The Philosophy of Modern Song by Bob Dylan

12:35 - Emergency by Daisy Hildyard

17:16 - The Ice Palace by Tarjei Vesaas

* To purchase any of the books mentioned in this episode please visit our bookshop at where all profits help to sustain this podcast and UK independent bookshops. * For information about everything mentioned in this episode visit * If you'd like to support the show, receive the show early and get extra bonus fortnightly episodes, become a Patreon at

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