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A Fairy Tale

Written by Jonas T. Bengtsson

Translated by Charlotte Barslund

  • 352 Pages
  • 9781770893078
  • FICTION / Literary



Publication Date January 18, 2014

From one of Denmark’s rising stars, a powerful and profound novel about a young boy and his father who live at the margins of society, until one day their adventure takes an unpredictable turn.

1986. Swedish Prime Minister Olof Palme has been assassinated, and a young boy and his father are on the move again. Travelling from Sweden to the outskirts of Denmark and into the heart of Copenhagen, the two live an unconventional life, constantly on the move and living on the margins of society. The father, an eccentric, restless man, takes a series of odd jobs, from making antique furniture, to landscaping, to working as a bouncer at a strip club. By day he home-schools his young son. At night he weaves a fairy tale about a prince and a king who are on a mission to kill the wicked White Queen, while running from the White Men who hide in plain sight.

One day, their adventure takes a dark, unpredictable turn. Ten years later, when the boy is just entering adulthood, questions about his father’s murky past can no longer remain unanswered. An unforgettable novel about the profound love between a father and son.


Jonas T. Bengtsson
Jonas T. Bengtsson was born in 1976. He is the author of the critically acclaimed and prize-winning debut Amina’s Letters, which won the BG Bank First Book Award and was a finalist for the Weekendavisens Litterature Prize. His second novel, Submarino, was awarded the PO Enquist Literary Prize. House of Anansi Press will be debuting Bengtsson’s remarkable work to the English-language market with his third novel, A Fairy Tale, which was a finalist for the Danish Radio Literature Prize for Best Novel of the Year. He lives in Denmark.

Charlotte Barslund
Charlotte Barslund is a Scandinavian translator. She has translated novels by Karin Fossum, Per Petterson, Carsten Jensen, Sissel-Jo Gazan, Thomas Enger, and Mikkel Birkegaard as well as a wide range of classic and contemporary plays. She translated Peter Adolphsen’s Machine in 2008. She lives in the U.K.


"With controlled and measured prose, Jonas T. Bengtsson builds subtle suspense, describing the experiences of a young boy, who is at once protected by his father's love while under constant threat of the darkness of their daily reality. A Fairy Tale is a profound and penetrating novel about the unbreakable bond between a father and son." Lawrence Hill, author of The Book of Negroes

"A unique and brilliantly observed depiction of a father-son relationship, and the perils of unconditional love." Jon Bauer, author of the Dublin International IMPAC Award–shortlisted Rocks in the Belly

"If Cormac McCarthy's The Road offered an actual relationship instead of only an emptiness that readers feel, then it might approach Jonas Bengtsson's A Fairy Tale. Here are a father and son in desperate circumstances, paired off against the world, but their relationship is rich and strange and intensely human and particular. This father is one of the best characters I've ever read in fiction, and the story is beautifully told." David Vann, author of Legend of a Suicide and Caribou Island

"Grandly conceived, simply told, A Fairy Tale is an artistic triumph." Globe and Mail