Before You Sleep, by Linn Ullmann

Linn Ullmann

Ullmann is the daughter of actress, author and director Liv Ullmann and director and screenwriter Ingmar Bergman. She is Liv Ullmann's only child and Bergman's youngest daughter, one of nine children Bergman fathered with five different women.

She studied literature for six years in New York, and graduated from New York University in 1988.

Her books have been traqnslated into 30 languages. In 2009, A Blessed Child was nominated to the Independent Foreign Fiction Prize.

Linn Ullmann


  • Før du sovner (1998) Before You Sleep
  • Når jeg er hos deg (2001) Stella Descending
  • Nåde (2002) Grace
  • Et velsignet barn (2005) A Blessed Child

(Published in Norwegian 1998) Linn Ullman, the daughter of actress Liv Ullmann and director/producer Ingmar Bergman, lives in Oslo, Norway, and works as a literary critic in one the largest newspapers. She is an excellent and promising writer, and has so far written four books.

Before You Sleep was originally written in Norwegian. While it was not viewed as controversial in Norway, American reviewers have regarded it as a "detailed and sexually frank novel." Such labels aside, this is a great and strong story of a Norwegian family, Blom, with strong and also somewhat eccentric women, Linn Ullmann: Before You Sleepthat spans several generations. The story moves from Oslo to Brooklyn, both places well known to the author.

The story is complicated. It is told, over time, from the mouth of one of the key characters in the book, Karin. It is about relations inside and out of the family, about motherhood, marriage, emotions, love, and even infidelity.

Before You Sleep is an exceptional debut book. It is very well worth reading. Ullman tells her story in a way that makes the characters come alive, and make you sympathize with their strange actions and understand their emotions.

“Of this autumns literary output, novelist Linn Ullmann is the wickedest and wittiest, and because she writes with a silent sincerity and merges all this with wit, intelligence and a generous picture of human beings, the novel is a real pleasure to read.”

Before You Sleep is infernally well written. The debutante, Linn Ullmann, has, from page one, found her own form and language, consistent in style until the end.”
  GT (Sweden)

Link to a complete bibliography, with reviews of all of Linn Ullman's books.

Stella Descending is another very good and interesting book by Linn Ullmann that you may want to consider.

Buy from amazon UK: Before You Sleep or Stella Descending.

A Blessed Child, by Linn Ullmann

(Original title in Norwegian: Et velsignet barn.) In this book, Norwegian author Linn Ullmann explores sentiments and events like guilt, reconciliation and the passing of time, in a A Blessed Child, byb Linn Ullmann novel powerfully driven by raw sensuality and violence. It is a book that makes a strong impression.

The novel tells the tale of three sisters sharing a father but with three different mothers - and their fragile relationship to their father. A Blessed Child starts with Erika nervously driving through a snowstorm to the Swedish island of Hammarso to visit her 84-year-old father, Isak, a volatile and aloof genius. Laura, and Molly are also planning to brave a snowstorm to visit their failing. Isak Lovenstad, was one of the pioneers of gynecological ultrasound, and now has exiled himself in what used to be his summer house on the island after the death of his second wife.

As the three women make their way separately across Norway into Sweden to visit him, they remember the idyllic summers they spent on the island, gathered together by their larger-than-life father. The sisters also try to deal with an event that took place on the island in the summer of 1979 - 25 years ago.

When they were young, the three young girls entered into changing alliances with other summer guests. One of these was Ragnar, a boy who was always running and in some strange way attracted to Isak.

Something bad happened that summer. Something no one was willing to assume responsibility for. Now, more than twenty five years later, it is still there. Still an issue needing to be dealt with.

A Blessed Child is a rich portrayal of the life-stories of three women, and also a fine portrait of a father – both merciless and tender. It's a story of girls that behave bad! Very bad indeed. It's structure is mosaic - and very appropriate to the tale. Linn Ullmann is a terrific writer. Her novel's great strengths are the brilliantly drawn characters and the dialogues. A great and highly recommended book!

“A deeply disturbing and powerful novel with parallels to William Golding’s Lord of the Flies … Ullmann’s pen offers a sober narrative, never too sentimental or obvious, keeps us enthralled with hints, pulls us into the core from many different angles … merciless and credible"

Most recent Scandinavian movies on DVD reviewed:

King of Devil's Island - Stellan Skarsgård

A Somewhat Gentle Man - Stellan Skarsgård at his very best

The Killing - an excellent Danish crime fiction TV series

Arn: Templar Knight - based on the Crusades trilogy by Jan Guillou

Jar City, excellent Icelandic crime movie based on a book by Arnaldur Indridason

Troubled Water - an extraordinary Norwegian movie

Pusher Trilogy. Hard, violent Danish movies about gangsters.

As it is in Heaven. Charming Swedish movie, romantic, funny, warm.

Max Manus - about a hero in the Norwegian resistance during WWII

Flame and Citron - about the Danish resistance during WWII

Antichrist and other movies by Danish Lars von Trier

The Van Veeteren collection (Hakan Nesser)

Kurt Wallander series (Henning Mankell)

Irene Huss movies (Boxed set) Helene Tursten

Search the Internet:


The 10 most recent books reviewed on Scandinavian Books:

The Shadow Girls by Henning Mankell

The Drowning, by Camilla Läckberg

Operation Napoleon, by Arnaldur Indridason

The Caller, by Karin Fossum

The Howling Miller, by Arto Paasilinna

The Dwarf, by Pär Lagerkvist

The Ice Palace, by Tarjei Vesaas

The Summer Without Men, by Siri Hustvedt

Doctor Glas, by Hjalmar Soderberg

The Quarry, by Johan Theorin