In May 2019, I published the political (popular) science book Over sperregrensen (Over the Threshold). In March 2020, I am publishing the crime novel Risiko (Risk).
Over sperregrensen. Hvordan verdens valgordninger gjør stemmer til politisk makt (Over the Threshold. How the World’s Electoral Systems Turn Votes Into Political Power) is my first non-fiction book in Norwegian. It is academic by topic, but aimed at a non-specialist audience.
Over sperregrensen is published by Norwegian University Press (Universitetsforlaget). Below is an excerpt from the introductory chapter, laying out the book’s theme and ambition.
How can a candidate be elected president of the United States, while receiving several million fewer votes than his opponent? Why doesn’t Norway have one-party governments any more? Why are there so many parties represented in some countries’ parliaments, and so few in others? And why are women and minorities almost always underrepresented?
These are important questions – they relate to the very workings of democracy. And they cannot be answered without taking into account each country’s electoral system.
In one sense, there are as many electoral systems as there are countries in the world, because no electoral system is identical to another. But it is possible to sort and systematize the different systems that exist into a relatively small number of categories. That makes the picture much tidier, and it becomes easier to see how the systems work, and how they differ from each other. And that is precisely what this book aims to do.
Books about electoral systems easily get too technical to be of interest to non-specialists. The ambition of this book is that it shall be accessible – even entertaining – to a wider audience. Explanations are only as technical as they need to. Much emphasis is placed on examples from around the world: by the time you’ve read to the last page, you’ve touched down in Australia and Afghanistan, USA and Ukraine, Denmark and Djibouti, and many other countries.
At the same time, care has been taken to maintain accuracy. Thus, the book may be useful for example for Bachelor level students of political science and comparative politics, and for election observers who would like to see their field experience in a broader context.
In June 2019, Over sperregrensen was purchased by Arts Council Norway (Kulturrådet), which entails that some 800 copies were bought and distributed to libraries nationwide. Only a small minority of non-fiction books published in Norway are included in this system (innkjøpsordningen for ny norsk sakprosa).
Risiko introduces Liv Eriksson, a psychologist in her early 30s, who grew up in Kjerringøy in northern Norway, but now lives in Oslo. Liv is independent and strong-willed. But she carries both psychological and physical scars – from working as a nurse in emergencies around the world, and most of all from the recent death of her boyfriend Olav.
Below is a teaser that I wrote for the publisher, Forlaget Press.
Liv Eriksson is a psychologist, and she has worked in some of the world’s toughest emergencies. But when her boyfriend Olav falls and dies while they are mountain climbing in Thailand, she breaks down. She isolates herself, and exercises manically to cope with her trauma.
Olav was a special investigator at Norway’s central police unit for economic crime, and a brilliant computer specialist. On the internet is a film that shows how he died. Liv has watched it countless times, but she still does not understand how it happened.
Several months after Olav’s death, Liv is interviewed by a friend who is a journalist with the magazine VG Helg. The interview gets a lot of attention, and Liv’s life takes a new turn: she makes new friends, and reconnects with old ones. But to Liv, the interview is a means to an end. Someone out there knows what really happened when Olav died, and she is going to find them.
Liv soon realizes that Olav had secrets that neither she nor his colleagues knew of. She discovers things that makes her question if she really knew Olav. Her worries grow into an obsession. And her search for the truth becomes increasingly dangerous for Liv and her loved ones.
Because she is also coming into contact with an international conspiracy, where the countdown has begun for an unprecedented crime.