Critics Enjoy Trip To Land Of Dreams

vidar_sundstol_land_of_dreamsIn a starred review, Publishers Weekly called Vidar Sundstøl’s THE LAND OF DREAMS “a stellar psychological thriller.” In her New York Times review, Marilyn Stasio exclaims, “What wonders there are in America’s own backyard, if we only think to look.” See what wonders she and other critics have discovered in this book after the jump!

Publishers Weekly says, “Norwegian crime novelist Sundstøl’s stellar psychological thriller, the first in his Minnesota Trilogy, stunningly evokes the North Shore of Lake Superior and its people—Norwegian, Swedish, and Finnish settlers, as well as Objibway Native Americans. Nunnally’s convincing translation helps bring it all to unforgettable life.”

Marilyn Stasio of The New York Times says:

What wonders there are in America’s own backyard, if we only think to look. That’s what the Norwegian writer Vidar Sundstol does in The Land of Dreams, a murder mystery translated by Tiina Nunnally and set against the harsh landscape of the Lake Superior shore. This region was settled by hardy Scandinavian pioneers, and Lance Hansen, a police officer who works for the United States Forest Service, is proud to be descended from such stout stock. (“What dreams those people must have had.”) But the murder of a Norwegian tourist shocks him into thinking about other victims and other acts of violence that might have been lost to history. There’s a wintry bleakness to Hansen’s brooding about the past, which is more interesting than the case he’s working and more compatible with the austere setting. Hansen is a good cop and a decent man, but the extraordinary choice he opts for at the novel’s end makes it certain that he’ll not be having pleasant dreams for a very long time.


The Star Tribune in Minneapolis weighs in:

The remains of a wharf’s stone pilings protrude from Lake Superior “like the vertebrae of a broken spine, as if just below the surface there might be the skeleton of some huge ancient monster.”

This striking description in the opening pages of The Land of Dreams, an engrossing mystery that’s the first in Norwegian writer Vidar Sundstøl’s Minnesota Trilogy, foreshadows the novel’s most gripping theme: that history can be like an “ancient monster” hiding, waiting, unseen and unspoken, until a storm exposes it — and then we must confront that which we’ve silenced, ignored or simply forgotten.


High praise from Scandinavian Crime Fiction:

The Land of Dreams, beautifully translated by Tiinna Nunnally, is an evocative novel that draws together past and present, the lives of immigrants and the indigenous inhabitants of the North Shore, American dreams and suppressed violence hidden behind calm exteriors and polite silences.

I’m not surprised that it was awarded the Riverton Prize. It’s a very good book. I admit that I particularly enjoyed a setting that is familiar to me – just a few weeks ago we traveled to the places where the story is set. Even if you haven’t been to the North Shore, this book will provide you with an interesting journey. The only problem is that you’ll want to return as soon as possible, as there is obviously more to the story.


Lastly, a rave review from Books and Movies and Crap, who we assume is include Sundstøl’s book in the first category, not the last one:

The Land of Dreams is a gem, a taut mystery with relaxed pacing and access to the very depths of its characters’ souls.

The Land of Dreams is beautifully written. The descriptions of the ancient forests, rivers, and Lake Superior itself transported me to this small town: the sites, the smells, the giddy danger of a summer thunderstorm.

When a novel is written in a foreign language, the reader is largely at the translator’s mercy. With The Land of Dreams, Tiina Nunnally does a splendid job taking Sundstrøl’s writing, and translating it into natural, descriptive English. The Land of Dreams is as smooth a read as if it were originally written by a skilled, insightful English-language author. Her work is commendable.

My only complaint is that I have to wait till Fall 2014 to read book two.

The Land of Dreams isn’t like what I call the “supermarket thrillers,” those superstar novels crammed onto a display rack alongside razor blades and denture adhesive. It’s one to savor and enjoy, like a good cognac—something real and warm in a generic light beer world.

Most Highly Recommended.


If you’re in the Duluth area, Sundstøl will be the special guest of honor at tomorrow night’s Sons of Norway Nordic Gala!



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