Read The Tsar's Dwarf (Hawthorne Books)

Read The Tsar's Dwarf (Hawthorne Books)
"A curious and wonderful work of great human value by a Danish master." Sebastian Barry, Man Booker finalist (Click on the picture to go to the book's Amazon page)

Thursday, October 9, 2008

From Lincoln High School, Portland to Park Avenue, New York - Notes from a Book Tour.

Lincoln High School, Portland, Oregon. See the Great Dane sign behind me. Those Oregonians sure know how to make you feel good.

I'm so happy that the United States exist.

If the US didn't exist, the Art of Shameless Self Promotion would never have been so predominant. In the US, people aren't afraid of being entertaining. You Americans have turned showboating into an art form and I like that.

Yes, if it weren't for America, writers would stare into carpets when interviewed. Novelists and poets would be as introverted as cattle, taking themselves and their art too seriously. The US has taught the world that there is nothing wrong with a hint of Disneyland in the world of letters.

As my readers know, I'm a bit of a moron but I think literature is supposed to be fun. It should celebrate joy and tragedy with great stories, great prose, and a voice that hits you in the gut. I don't understand why literature has to give you hemorrhoids.

May I argue that all the best writers in history were entertaining? Read Dostoevsky, Shakespeare, Moliere, Pinter, Fo, Kundera, Fowles, Hemmingway, Dumas, Pirandello, Wolf, Saramago. They're sad, funny, and mysterious. They create great characters and are innovative - they're fun to be around, even when they sulk.

I'm not God, but I bet that writers weren't put on earth to bore their readers to death.

53 people showed up for my reading at Powell's City of Books, even though it was my fifth presentation in Portland. Thanks, everybody! I sure had a great time reading, talking, joking around.

I've had a great start on my book tour, thank you for asking.

No less than five stops in Portland, Lincoln High School, Annie Bloom's Book Store, The Scandinavian Heritage Foundation, Portland State University, and Powell's City of Books, the biggest book store on the West Coast.

I had nice turn outs everywhere, especially at Powell's - I even sold a few books, so what more can you ask when you have a last name that no one can pronounce?

Actually, Portland has been incredibly nice to me since I arrived here. You rock my world, Oregon. Apart from the rain and the lousy weather nine months of the year, I love this part of the world.

I adore when women throw themselves at me. It doesn't happen often enough. This fan came all the way from Siracusa, Sicily to get a signed copy of The Tsar's Dwarf. You don't say no to a Sicilian. You just don't.

October 19 I continue on my book tour to Seattle and Tacoma in Washington, then on to Minneapolis and St. Paul in Minnesota, Madison and Milwaukee in Wisconsin, Chicago, Illinois, and I end up in Scandinavia House on Park Avenue in New York City.

Scandinavia House is probably the most prestigeous place for a Scandinavian to appear in the US. So this means I have to behave - I have to watch my language, and I probably should upgrade my after shave.

And hey, maybe it would be best if I did away with my Swedish and Norwegian jokes. I mean, I'm going to do my reading in the Volvo room.

That's right, the Volvo room.

When I heard that, I pleaded with the American-Scandinavian Foundation to move me to the Lego room. Lego is after all Danish, not Swedish and that room would be a much better fit for my juvenile personality.

Here are some quotes from the two first official reviews The Tsar's Dwarf has received:

The Believer, a magazine from San Francisco

"The brisk pace, flip tone, and confounding convictions of its seventeenth-century narrator make the novel, set in the distant past, feel contemporary ... Fogtdal widens the potentially narrow first-person point of view ... that allows the protagonist to relay and consider events she does not witness; this gives the novel a broader historical scope. Sørine’s internal life, however, her observations of behavior and investigations of belief, are the source of the novel’s zest and contemporary relevance ..."

"Just as I began to grow weary, wondering what might happen next to Sørine, she makes a bold move that leads the novel back to its compelling premise: people’s physical oddities are no match for the bizarre manifestations of their desire."

The Portland Fiction Project, an Oregonian website:

"There is no political correctness in Sørine’s world, no “Little People of America,” and The Tsar’s Dwarf is all the more darkly hilarious for it ..."

"Sørine serves as an anthropologist of the human condition – but not just from underneath; from outside as well ... In short, she is a complex character, and a welcome guide through this world of dachas and Russian Orthodox compounds and frightful museums with exhibits that wouldn’t be at all out of place at the Bates Motel."

"Sørine is not so bewitching because she is a dwarf, but because her dwarfism is a magnification of our own inadequacy, our own self-loathing, and eventually our own capacity to survive."

Reader and librarian reviews from

An amazing 55 people have reviewed the book on Most people give it four or five stars, but even though I love being praised, my favorite review is one of the non-favourable. This one is from a reader in Hibbing, Minnesota:

"WARNING PARENTS AND TEACHERS: This book contains the following that might be offensive - vulgar sexuality, infanticide, murder by poisoning, grotesque, graphic nudity, cruel prejudice against dwarves, anti-Christian, anti-God attitudes and rantings."

Thank you, Minnesota.

Read my novel, won't you?

It's a great moment for a small time writer seeing his book in an American book store for the first time. The Tsar's Dwarf is out in four languages now. I feel good, people. I feel goooooooood!

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