The Jealousy Man and Other Stories, by Jo Nesbø

Eight stars

Long a fan Jo Nesbø’s writing, I was curious about this collection of short stories and novellas. While I have come to love Harry Hole and how he emerges as an energetic character, as well as Nesbø’s standalone novels, I was not sure about handling a slew of the author’s creations in a single publication. This collection of stories is not only varied from the crime thrillers that many readers have come to love, but also offers a richness in its presentation, such that there is something for everyone. A great effort by Jo Nesbø, which is sure to appeal to many fans of his gritty writing.

While some might want a review, albeit short, of each story in this collection, I chose not to do so. I have always found short pieces are harder to synthesise without giving away too much, something many complain I do already with full-length novels (haters gonna, hate, right?). That, and I sometimes like to let the story roll around in my head, rather than have to be on point and take detailed mental notes. I will, however, address some themes and ideas that came to me as I listened to this collection, narrated by a number of well-established audiobook readers.

Nesbø offers up a wonderful cross-section of stories in this piece, exploring the human condition in a variety of ways. While jealousy and love appear to be key aspects to some of the earlier pieces, few stories take things in a straightforward manner, choosing instead to tackle the subject matter in a subtle or symbolic manner. From an opening piece about two individuals who travel on an overseas flight and discover much about their emotions to a larger piece about a post-epidemic world in which the struggle to survive is real, Nesbø delivers a great deal and forces the reader to think the entire time. Nesbø leaves the reader wondering as they make their way through each piece, discovering how characters handle the emotions that are put before them through a variety of plot twists.

The writing is typical Nesbø, which, for those who have read some of his work, will know is steeped in symbolism and a deeper analysis of the emotional being. Hidden meanings and ideas permeate the narrative, such that the reader may play close attention to get all that Nesbø presents in his writing. With stories that vary in length, it is even more important to pay attention, as there are times when a piece is over before it really begins, meaning the reader will miss what is being presented.

In a collection of stories that seeks to entertain as much as it educate, Nesbø delves as deeply as possible to offer something for everyone. Rich in its delivery, the stories appear to transcend the translation, as with many of the pieces, leaving the unsuspecting reader to remain baffled that these were not penned in English from the outset. The ease with which things transition is a credit to Nesbø’s writing and I cannot say enough about what he has to offer. The reader who is familiar with Jo Nesbø will likely enjoy the collection, even if it might leave them somewhat mentally exhausted by the final page flip. Then again, when doesn’t love a good book take a little something out of the attentive reader?

Kudos, Mr. Nesbø, for a great collection. While I am eager to see more Harry Hole, I enjoyed this piece quite a bit.