15-word-review: A son constantly yearning for more social mobility tries to understand his elderly father, unsuccessfully.
Official book description (translated from Norwegian by me):
“Why didn’t they have more? I remember thinking after my grandmother died. They were from here, Norwegian, shouldn’t they have had more things? Those things other Norwegian parents and grandparents have, at least a simple cabin, the kind without power or water, somewhere no one else wanted a cabin, in the middle of the woods? But no, nothing. I asked my mother once why it was like that. – It was just the way things turned out, she replied.”
They Call Me the Wolf is a story about growing up with the knowledge that not everyone is dealt as fair a hand as others. The parents of the protagonists have worked their entire lives, so hard that their health has suffered. Nevertheless, they don’t have a lot to show for it. There is nothing to inherit except memories and some family stories, from his father’s early life in Pakistan, his mother’s life in Finnmark in the north of Norway, and from their life together in Oslo.
Now that home has been dissolved, the father wants to leave Norway to grow old in Pakistan, leaving behind the protagonist, with his unquenchable hunger to own and acquire that which everyone else has more of.
Back in 2017, Zeshan Shakar became a publishing phenomenon in Norway with his debut novel, Tante Ulrikkes vei. It has gone on to sell over a million copies, which is impressive when you consider that Norway only has a population of about 5.7 million people. This is Shakar’s third novel and I think that each new book he writes is less interesting than the last. His previous novel, Gul bok (yellow book) was underwhelming and I didn’t really think there was any real character development or progression in it. This book basically just has a protagonist who is always dissatisfied with his life, constantly wishing for a bigger and better house, all the while bemoaning any real closeness to either of his parents, despite the fact that they have had no meaningful contact since the protagonist grew up and left the home he seems mostly ashamed of.
Full review here.