Unwanted Behaviour

Unwanted Behaviour

Olaug Nilssen

Original title: Uønska åtferd
Publisher: Det norske Samlaget, 2023
Genre: Novel
Pages: 215 pages

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Where do we draw the line for what we should sacrifice for a child?

Katrine is married to Gunnar, and they have two children, Jostein and Janne. The son’s intellectual disabilities and care needs completely dominate family life. The daughter’s needs are lost in the shuffle, but she also finds herself in a vulnerable position when Jostein enters puberty and he begins acting out in sexually inappropriate ways.

Unwanted Behaviour
illustrates how difficult it is for a family to take care of everyone when one child demands everything. In her struggle to protect her son, Katrine risks losing it all – her marriage, her relationship to her daughter, and herself.


Nynorsk Literature Prize 2017
The Brage Prize 2017
The Dobloug Prize 2019, awarded annually by the Swedish Academy
The Fritt Ord’s Prize 2021

Olaug Nilssen writes with warm and empathetic insight. She portrays human beings as they are, without judgement.

Gerd Elin Stava Sandve, NRK

A novel of fury about a family in crisis.

Maja Troberg Djuve, Dagbladet

Let us take in the feeling of hopelessness when compassion and care are not enough.

Leif Tore Sædberg, Bergens Tidende

Olaug Nilssen will hopefully reach many readers with her novel about a mother who sees only the needs of her most vulnerable child.

Astrid Fosvold, Vårt Land

Here there are scenes that are incredibly painful, while there is also hope, humour and knowledge.»

Ole Jacob Hoel, Adresseavisen

Olaug Nilssen

Portrett olaug nilssen 010920
Photo: Bent René Synnesvåg

Olaug Nilssen (1977) made her literary breakthrough with Turn me on, Dammit in 2005. The book had a defining significance for an entire generation. Since then she has written books in different genres and made her mark as a unique and important voice in Norwegian literature. In her novel A Tale of Terrible Times, for which she was awarded the Brage Prize, she writes with unusual openness about the experience of being a mother of a child with disabilities. In her novel The One Needful Thing, published in 2020, she continues to explore the themes of A Tale of Terrible Times.

In 2021 Nilssen received The Fritt Ord’s Prize, along with Bjørn Hatterud and Jan Grue. They were awarded the prize in recognition of their important critical contribution to illuminating the impact of cultural stigmas on the situation of persons with disabilities in Norway.

Her new novel Undesireable Behaviour will be published in Norway 29 September 2023.

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Other titles by Olaug Nilssen

A Tale of Terrible Times

Olaug Nilssen

The One Needful Thing

Olaug Nilssen