A review of
by Jan Kjærstad
In The Discoverer, the third leg of Jan Kjærstad’s Wergeland Trilogy, celebrity Jonas Wergeland sails along Norway’s fjords and ponders. Famous for the TV series Thinking Big and infamous for the murder of his wife, Magrete, Jonas begins to rewrite his memoir, having destroyed draft one in prison. “Why did he do it?” is the query that frames this tale.
The Discoverer follows The Seducer and The Conqueror, which present Jonas’s story from different perspectives. Each can be read alone, but Kjærstad is tricky. The narrator in book one is revealed in book two; the identity of a “mysterious figure” in two is revealed in three. To find out requires a lengthy commute and stellar vision. The trilogy comprises 1,597 pages; the second and third installments appear to be in nine-point font.
Book three is set aboard the Voyager, “like Noah’s Ark for our technological society,” where Jonas is accompanied by the OAK Quartet (Oslo Art Kitchen), his daughter Kristin among them. Commissioned to “map” Norway’s cultural highlights, the young crew brainstorms and creates multimedia. “What should we take with us?” is reiterated throughout. “They keep branching off into stories,” Jonas observes. “Maybe it’s the boat that inspires them… sitting in the glow of an old paraffin lamp.”
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