The Story of Edvard Munch, By Ketil Bjornstad: Book review
Boyd Tonkin is Literary Editor at The Independent. An award-winning journalist, he was formerly Social Policy Editor of the New Statesman and has broadcast extensively for BBC arts and current affairs programmes. He has judged the Booker Prize, the Whitbread biography award, the Commonwealth Writers Prize and the David Cohen Prize for a lifetime's achievement in literature.
Friday 06 December 2013
Musician and author Ketil Bjornstad mines the writings of Munch and his friends (and foes) for this biographical novel, which captures the Norwegian painter's life and work in a torrent of syncopated scenes.
The method, the mood, match Munch's art. From his breakdown in 1908, "destroyed by alcohol, fear and rage", it moves back and forward through pivotal events, rendered with all the livid, expressionistic fervour of Munch's great "Frieze of Life".
Bjornstad packs the narrative with primary sources, quoted liberally: the documents enrich and extend the drama.
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