Bår Stenvik (b. 1976) is a Norwegian writer and journalist. He has studied English, literature, and musicology, graduating with an M.A. in Liberal Studies from the New School for Social Research in New York. He has published three nonfiction books, Bluff, Dirt, and Computer Games.
His debut book Dirt (Skitt in Norwegian) is published in Norway by Pax forlag, 2011. The book was awarded the Norwegian Booksellers’ prize for Nonfiction. International sales are handled by Hagen Agency.
– How cheating, lies and self-deception make us true humans
Cheating and deception are not considered our most noble skills, but without them we would hardly be human. No matter how sophisticated and enlightened we become, we keep agonizing over whether we’re experiencing “true love” and are in touch with our “true selves”.
Can a forgery be real art? How do you recognize a liar? What is honest in war and politics? BLUFF examines what we consider true and false, and why we are so busy keeping them apart.
Bår Stenvik reviews immediate and ancient history, visits a defense research institute and attends seduction classes, interviews art historians and neuroscientists, and ties it all together into an entertaining story about what repels, fascinates, and defines us: lies, deceit, and self-deception.
International sales: Hagen Agency German translation out 2015 on Riemann/Random House. Russian translation out 2016 on Alpina.
Read a translated excerpt in English from the book
What the critics say about Bluff:
Marius Wulfsberg, Dagbladet:
“Stenvik [emerges] as a good science writer, and an engaging and reflective essayist. He shows that inventing, boasting, lying, as well as deceiving others and oneself, is all deeply human.”
Jan Grue, Klassekampen:
“Stenvik is one of the most competent popular science journalists writing in the intersection between science, the social sciences and the humanities.”
Ole Kallelid, Stavanger aftenblad:
“Captivating and entertaining about deceiving and being deceived.”
May Grethe Lerum, Prosa:
“It’s this combination of thoroughness and charm that makes Bår Stenvik’s project so irresistible. He plays with the material.”
Stein Roll, Adresseavisen:
“An impressive piece of groundbreaking work, written in an entertaining language.”
Why it disgusts us – and fascinates us.
Dirt is a book about impurities, founded in the author’s own experiences, from farm life and sheep shit to urban high culture.We’re constantly at war with dirt, from the excrement we flush down the drain, to invisible germs. In the world of ideas, a similar struggle has been fought: from Christianity’s bouts with impure thoughts, through enlightened ideals of pure reason, to modern kitchen interiors with designs so clean the doors can’t have handles.
At the same time, dirt has had its own appeal. Farting and sex was as much fun in old fables as in recent Hollywood incarnations. Gore and blood has been central to ancient rituals, and still draw audiences to movies and art galleries. Shabby chic furniture and stained jeans have conquered the masses.
Dirt invites the reader on a journey through historical and cultural examples, combined with the author’s personal voice, from his rural upbringing to urban youth and international travels.
Read a translated excerpt from the book
Book presentation with translations of full reviews
Statement from the jury who awarded Skitt the Norwegian Booksellers’ Prize for Nonfiction:
«In an entertaining and essayistic manner, Bår Stenvik takes on the cultural history of dirt, through descriptions of our relation to muck and droppings through the ages. He illustrates his points by skipping elegantly from popular culture to heavy philosophy, from Iggy Pop and Tom Waits to Plato and Descartes, and it is all founded on the writer’s own life experience, from growing up on a farm in Nord-Trøndelag. The author is knowledgeable and shares his reflections in an entertaining way. Stenvik is an exciting debutant with a distinctive voice, whom the jury looks forward to following in the years to come.»
Quotes from Norwegian critics:
He quotes weighty philosophy and light entertainment: Platon, Descartes, Freud, Kristeva, Žižek, Iggy Pop, Tom Waits, Vivienne Westwood, and Ole Bull, there are no limits as to who gets to come along for the ride.
– Sigrun Hodne in Stavanger aftenblad
«The writer’s debut Dirt is a cross between a cultural history of dirt, a diagnosis of our contemporary lives as seen from the margins, and a personal coming of age-story. The result is a collection of surprisingly funny, thought-provoking, and informative essays – surprising because one might think that all these personal anecdotes about the long journey from Namdalseid to New York would come across as irrelevant and trivial to anybody but the author’s closest Facebook friends. But in the same way that he uses «dirt» as a stepping stone to explore adjacent concepts such as «disarray», «chaos», and «disgust», his private stories are departure points for clear-sighted, often scientifically informed and philosophy-fuelled reflections on anything from tattoos to ripped jeans and kinky sex.»
– Stian Bromark in Dagsavisen
«As in an alternative bildungsroman, Stenvik performs a reading of the pure and impure aspects of his own life, and the changes of values that happen with time––and social ascension: Bår the child feels disgust for all kinds of normal food, the teenager loves shaggy punk- and stoner-aesthetics, the established man wants to live in a delicately furnished home with as clean lines as possible. Through this self-portrait Bår Stenvik becomes a sort of miniature of the history he is trying to describe, where definitions and functions are in constant flux.»
– Tina Åmodt in Klassekampen
«Engaging stories combined with exciting new knowledge»
– Stein Roll in Adresseavisen
«Taken altogether, Dirt is a likable book, because it at times forces new ideas to surface by strolling unaffected across a number of thresholds that we have created for ourselves.»
– Trond Berg Eriksen in Aftenposten
Maren Agdestein and Bår Stenvik
Illustrated by Rune Markhus
Published in Norway by Cappelen Damm (2012), for ages 10–16
International sales handled by Cappelen Damm Agency.
Finally, an outstanding book about one of young peoples’ very favourite pastimes! Kim and his cat become trapped in a computer game, and are forced to play their way back to reality.
The reader is taken on a playful journey through the history of computer games, with text and illustrations inspired by many computer game genres and aesthetics. The end result is as humorous as it is instructive.
This book won the gold prize in the Children’s nonfiction category in the Most Beautiful Book of the Year award 2011, awarded by Grafill – the Norwegian Organization for Visual Communication.
Quotes from Norwegian critics:
«Original presentation, brilliantly illustrated.»
«The book is full of charming drawings which in a splendid way illustrate the various themes discussed in the text.»
«A fine introduction to the history of computer games. … nice and colourful illustrations by Rune Markhus together with articles about different play themes, chronologically organized by time periods…»
Maren Agdestein (1982–) has a background in media studies and works in a freelance capacity. She blogs on Spillpikene.no and works as a computer game reviewer.
Bår Stenvik (1976–) is a journalist and writer, and has previously reviewed computer games for the newspaper Natt&Dag.
Rune Markhus (1972–) has an education from Westerdal’s School of Communication, and illustrates magazines, marketing material, animation and books.