by Tom Kristensen, translated from the Danish by Carl Malmberg, introduction by Morten Høi Jensen
Ole Jastrau is the very model of an enterprising and ambitious young man of letters, poised on the brink of what is sure to be a distinguished career as a critic. In fact he is teetering on the brink of an emotional and moral abyss. Bored with his beautiful wife and chafing at the burdens of fatherhood, disdainful of the commercialism and political opportunism of the newspaper he works for, he feels more and more that his life lacks meaning. He flirts with Catholicism and flirts with Communism, but somehow he doesn’t have the makings of a true believer. Then he takes up with the bottle, a truly meaningful relationship. “Slowly and quietly,” he intends to go to the dogs.
Jastrau’s romance with self-destruction will take him through all the circles of hell. The process will be anything but slow and quiet.
Havoc is one of the best novels to ever come out of Scandinavia. As discomforting as it is beautiful, it portrays the fall of a man, and it’s so hypnotically written that you want to fall with him.
—Karl Ove Knausgaard