The Stroller, the Criminal, the Detective. Exploring the Postmodern Identity in Jan Kjærstad’s Rand. Katarzyna Tunkiel
The Stroller, the Criminal, the Detective. Exploring the Postmodern Identity in Jan Kjærstad’s Rand Katarzyna Tunkiel Rand1(1990), the fourth novel by the prominent Norwegian author Jan Kjærstad (b. 1953), tells the story of a series of unsolved murders committed in Oslo in the late 80s. The nameless protagonist and the narrator of the novel is the perpetrator, who gradually becomes so obsessed with finding a pattern in his own killings that he decides to use his professional skills of an IT-specialist to join the police investigation team working on the mysterious case. Even though this brief synopsis may indicate similarities with crime fiction, Rand is actually a detective novel à rebours, or a deformed crime novel, as Bjarne Markussen put it.2 Since the reader knows almost from the very beginning who the murderer is, the purpose of the investigation described in the latter part of the book is finding a motive behind the killings and, even more importantly, answering a more general, existential question, which soon becomes the major problem of the novel: what is a human being? While the protagonist’s life illustrates the search for this answer, the roles he plays in Rand reflect and explore some aspects of the postmodern identity, incarnated by the types of the stroller, or the flâneur, the criminal and the detective, all of them adding different perspectives to the same urban experience. The figure of the stroller, who has come a long way both in cultural history and in scholarly...
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