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BOOK-READY: Star artist and author Matias Faldbakken is out with his sixth novel, “Poor”. Photo: Aurora Ytreberg Meloe / VG

Matias Faldbakken (48) lives a jet set life with his artist wife Ida Ekblad, has had a restaurant in Stockholm named after his novel “The Hills”, is bombarded by messages from readers – and now gets a 6 for his new novel “Poor”.


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– Jet set life? Yes, we might have it, smiles art and author star Matias Faldbakken.

– In any case, we both have an international art career and fly here and there and set up exhibitions and launch books. But now I otherwise live a reasonably A4-like life. I also had a house, a car and children. And I’m happy with that, that is.

Because actually, as a teenager, he signed a contract with a friend to never get a permanent job and all the things that belonged to an A4 life.

– Me and my friend, who is unfortunately no longer alive, were not very enthusiastic about all that. We didn’t want to be part of that part of the adult world and signed a contract. In a way, I have managed to keep my part of the agreement – as an artist and writer I live a relatively free life, says Matias Faldbakken to VG.

In 2019, he married the successful artist Ida Ekblad, and he says that they have a lot of help in each other.

ARTIST COUPLE: Both Ida Ekblad and Matias Faldbakken are internationally successful – and they have a lot of help in each other. Photo: Private

– We have very different art practices, but an overlapping taste – and the same understanding of what is good and bad. She is a good sparring partner and yes, maybe she has something to do with the fact that the books have become a little less aggressive.

This week he comes out with his sixth novel: “Poor thing”.

VG’s reviewer has already designated it as one of the strongest things he has read in recent Norwegian fiction – and gives the book a 6.

– Oh, that’s good, says Faldbakken when he hears the roll of the dice.

Check VG’s review here: You just know it will be good. Very good!

– I haven’t actually gotten a six before. I’ve gotten ones and twos, the whole die has been used. Especially as a visual artist, I’ve had a lot of trouble.

– So yes, this is really gratifying. I’m not going to tattoo it on my face, but I’ll take it with me, says Faldbakken.

WILL BE HAPPY: Matias Faldbakken gets a 6 for his new novel “Poor”. Photo: Aurora Ytreberg Meloe / VG

In his previous award-winning novel “Vi er fem”, he let a lump of clay come to life and become a kind of fifth family member in a rural family. It didn’t go so well at the end, or did it?

– People are very curious about it, they contact me on all platforms and ask: What actually happened at the end? I have to answer truthfully: I don’t know. I don’t know more than what is written in the book.

Faldbakken is not at all interested in making endings with two dashes under the answer.

– There is such a fierce expectation in people to have a Netflix-like ending, but I see it as the easiest way out. I’d rather make endings that have multiple layers and pea answers. I don’t do it to be artistic and mysterious. I guess I’m trying to create a picture of something, rather than give a definitive answer.

In “Poor” he lets a youngster crawl out of the forest. There are no ordinary young people.

READER STORM: Matias Faldbakken is bombarded with questions from readers who want to know what really happened at the end of “We are five”. Photo: Aurora Ytreberg Meloe / VG

– I am inspired by actual stories that exist about so-called “feral children”. Orphaned children who came out of the shed for one reason or another, that no one knew where they came from or what had happened to them.

– I thought it would be interesting to write about a main character whose background nobody knows. Not the main character himself, not the surroundings – and not the author either, says Faldbakken.

He doesn’t settle for just one poor man, here we get to know both two and three poor men.

– It’s a kind of triangle of poor people. The sum of them becomes a picture of a trauma, of what a trauma can be and how it can act.

– You write something about the fact that it may not always be the case that a trauma should be processed?

– Now I’m not going to say that people don’t have to treat their traumas, but to speak for myself: You probably can’t get rid of a trauma, maybe you can see what power is hidden in it, says Faldbakken.

His own driving force behind both art and literature often comes from a problematic or conflicted place.

– I’ve thought a lot about where, and it’s not exactly something I want to talk about in VG.

– I can say that desperation is not a good feeling, but it can produce a lot of good art and literature.

SHOWS A TRAUMA: Matias Faldbakken creates a picture of a trauma and how a trauma can act – in the novel “Poor thing”. Photo: Aurora Ytreberg Meloe / VG

He is a relatively shy person in public.

For example, he has never agreed to a TV interview until the launch of this new book.

– I don’t know, I’m probably afraid of saying something embarrassing that doesn’t belong on TV.

But this time he is making up for several interviews – including a TV medium.

– Maybe it’s the age. I’ve probably become more emo, laughs the 48-year-old.

– My first books, the “Scandinavian Misanthropy” trilogy that I wrote in my 20s, were wild, conceptual and cheeky in so many ways.

– Now I’m less rude, less nosy – and maybe a little more heartfelt. I touch on more emotional things now, says Faldbakken and nods affirmatively when asked if the new novel is not also warmer than what he has written before.

– There is certainly some kind of romance here, a love fable.

– Yes, and a “solid dose of pouting” as our reviewer so nicely puts it?

– This is probably my take on sex in 2022.

– The kid who comes out of the skau ​​is at the bottom of the ladder – and meets a figure who you can say is second-bottom of the ladder. The relationship that eventually arises may seem shocking and forbidden at the start, but I try to show that it is not, that it is rather something nice, says Faldbakken.

IN THE ATELIER: Matias Faldbakken is represented by some of the world’s most renowned galleries. Here in his own studio. Photo: Dan P. Neegaard / Aftenposten Aftenposten

He has long had a great international career as an artist, but now his literary agent Tor Jonasson in the Swedish agency Salomonsson believes that Faldbakken is starting to become as well known in the world as a great writer who also creates art.

– Of course my literary agent thinks so, and my gallerist will probably still think it’s the opposite. My own ambition was always to become an artist, but I write more and more. I cannot escape the role of author, says Faldbakken.

The first thing he does every day after making breakfast and sending the children and young people off (he has a bonus daughter aged 10, and two children aged 18 and 20 from a previous relationship) is to write.

– I write right after they have left – and before I open everything and that kind of monstrous everyday stuff. Writing requires full concentration, but I never sit and squirm. After a couple of hours I move on to the art work.

In 2020, Faldbakken was nominated for the Nordic Council’s literature prize for “We are five”, and “The Hills” has been published in 16 countries. “The Hills” has also had a popular restaurant in Stockholm named after him – with the book logo on the crockery and menu and a reading from the book in the bathroom.

Faldbakken’s agent Niclas Salomonsson is behind the idea – and it is a tribute to Faldbakken and his writing.

– Of course it’s great! Ida and I had a super fun evening there not so long ago. It is not a restaurant as smoked and weathered as The Hills in the novel, but they use many elements from the book. The place has become really popular – and I hear rumors that the Skarsgård family have become weekly regulars.

The article is in Norwegian

Tags: Ive emo

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