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Literary conversation: Marjam Idriss – Halvt. About Norway's dark colonial history in the Caribbean

Thursday 11 April


In February, author Marjam Idriss published "Halvt", a novel about heritage, old ghosts and the price of racism. Set in both the present and the past, the book weaves together two stories into a narrative that embraces both a family history and the Danish-Norwegian colonial history. At Melahuset she meets Selma Benmalek for a conversation about the critically acclaimed novel, the history of Norwegian slavery, double standards and Norwegian self-esteem.

" Marjam Idriss has given herself an almost impossible task with this link between the current Norwegian oil industry and the historical slave industry. She is to be credited for bringing this bold project to fruition with convincing style. She has managed to shed light on a darkened part of Norwegian history. " Turid Larsen, Dagsavisen

The doors open at 18

Program starts at 18.30

Free entry

About "Halvt"

2023: The main character, Inge, arrives on St. Croix in the Caribbean, the island her mother is from. She brings with her two colleagues and a new job in Equinor. A major fire has broken out at an oil facility, and the newly qualified diversity consultant is sent to reassure the locals with a face they can recognize. At the airport, she is greeted by her mother, whom she hasn't seen in fifteen years. The reunion awakens old memories Inge has tried to forget, but also stories that go much further back in time and that weave the Danish-Norwegian colonial history together with her family history.

1759: Town clerk Engebret Hesselberg longs for home from the Caribbean colony. As the king's extended arm, he will be responsible for one of the most brutal events in the history of Danish-Norwegian slavery.

Marjam Idriss (b. 1992) has a bachelor's degree in English literature and a master's degree in medieval literature from the University of Cambridge. She debuted as a novelist with Jannikeevangeliet in 2017, and as a fiction translator in 2018 and has, among other things, translated by Zadie Smith, Amanda Gorman, Ibi Zoboi, Yusef Salaam and Jenny Hval.

"Halvt" is her second novel and is published by Gyldendal Norsk Forlag.

The conversation is led by Selma Benmalek, program consultant at Deichman.