Join us for a book talk with author Eric Dregni on The Love of Cod: A Father and Son’s Search for Norwegian Happiness, out April 27, 2022 from University of Minnesota Press! In this discussion, Dregni will discuss his journey to find Norway’s supposed bliss, explored within the novel’s comic travelogue.
Norway is usually near or at the top of the World Happiness Report. But is it really one of the happiest countries on Earth? Eric Dregni had his doubts. Years ago he and his wife had lived in this country his great-great-grandfather once fled; when their son Eilif was born there, the Norwegian government paid for the birth, gave them $5,000, and deposited $500 into their bank account every month. But surely happiness was more than a generous health care system; what about all those grim months without sun? When Eilif turned 15, father and son decided to go back together and investigate. Arriving in May, a month of festivals and eternal sun, they are thrust into Norway at its merriest—and into the reality of the astronomical cost of living, which forces them to find lodging with friends and relatives. But this gives them an inside look at the secrets to a better life, as locals introduce them to the principles underlying their avowed contentment, from an active environmentalism that translates into flyskam (flight shame) to a passion for dugnad (community volunteerism) and sakte or “slow” — a rejection of the mad pace of modernity — to the commodification of Viking history and the dark side of Black Metal music that turns the idea of quaint, traditional Norway upside down.
In this idiosyncratic father-and-son tour, readers will see how, or whether, Norwegian happiness translates.
This program will take place in-person in Volvo Hall; RSVP required. Attendees are required to follow all Scandinavia House safety protocols, including wearing masks during the program and observing social distancing rules in signage. Please read our full safety protocols here.
“Eric Dregni is the best kind of tour guide, bringing to life a country vis-à-vis its people, its (sometimes odd) customs, and its places. Brew some kaffe, get koselig (cozy), and settle in to do some armchair traveling to Norway. It’s a trip you’ll be lykkelig (happy) to take”—Lorna Landvik, author of Chronicles of a Radical Hag (with Recipes)
“Honest, funny, and down to earth, For the Love of Cod is an eye-opening look at how Norway discovered the key to real happiness”—Foreword Reviews
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Eric Dregni is author of 20 books, including Vikings in the Attic, Weird Minnesota, and Let’s Go Fishing! As a Fulbright Fellow to Norway, he survived a dinner of rakfisk (fermented fish) thanks to 80-proof aquavit, took the “meat bus” to Sweden for cheap salami with a crowd of knitting pensioners, and compiled his stories in In Cod We Trust: Living the Norwegian Dream.
He wrote about living in Modena, Italy, in Never Trust a Thin Cook and Other Lessons from Italy’s Culinary Capital. He is professor of English, journalism, and Italian at Concordia University in St. Paul, Minnesota, and in the summer, he is director of the Italian Concordia Language Village, an experience he wrote about in You’re Sending Me Where? He lives in Minneapolis.