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Norwegian Christmas in the UK 2007

Shop till you drop Norwegian-style…

Hate it or love it, shopping Christmas presents can honestly be an annual nightmare. What to get? How much to spend? And most importantly, when will you find the time to face the crowds and fight your way to the tills? Well, we’re making the job a little bit easier for you with some great ideas for what you can put under the tree this year.

Books are always popular pressies with both young and old, and this year has seen numerous Norwegian titles hitting British book stores. In 'The Conqueror', the second volume of the trilogy about the fictional TV celeb Jonas Wergeland, celebrated author Jan Kjærstad’s narrative enmeshes the reader not only in the life of one man, but also in that of an entire nation and its culture in the latter half of the 20th century.

Following the success of his last two novels ‘The Half Brother’ and ‘Herman’, one of Norway’s most popular authors, Lars Saabye Christensen, published his latest novel ‘The Model’ in the UK which follows the painter Peter Wih and asks how far he is willing to go in order to create his art. Meanwhile, Hanne Bramness, one of the leading poets of her generation in Norway, has had her latest collection of poems, 'Salt on the eye', published here.

Author Helene Uri's second novel 'Honey Tongues', tells the story of four friends in their thirties who have known each other since school, but their increasingly bitchy exchanges of gossip turn nasty. Less bitchy, but none the less compelling, Dag Solstad's 'Shyness and Dignity' was short-listed for the prestigious Independent Foreign Fiction Prize 2007, where also Linn Ullmann's 'Grace' was long-listed for the award.

If novels are not your thing, comics might be an alternative. A million Brits already wake up with Nemi each morning on the train whilst flicking through their copy of the Metro newspaper. Now, however, Norwegian comic star Nemi looks set to further conquer the UK as she has her own book. Nemi Montoya, the vegetarian, cynical/romantic, hilariously honest twenty-something Goth, is out nationwide with a brand new collection from artist Lise Myhre.

One of Norway’s most popular authors, Lars Saabye Christensen's novel 'The Model' has been translated to English and is available now. Illustration: James Nunn

Making sweet music…

Norwegian Sami duo Adjágas, renowned for their charismatic ‘yoiking’, released their self-titled debut album in the UK to rave reviews with The Sun calling it "otherworldly", while The Guardian and The Times labelled it "spellbinding" and "strikingly beautiful" respectively. Meanwhile, Erlend Øye, singer with the popular acoustic duo Kings of Convenience, is juggling several balls and has now released an album with his new band The Whitest Boy Alive, whilst singer / songwriter Sondre Lerche, a household name in Norway, followed a series of concerts in the UK with the release of his latest album ‘Phantom Punch’ in June. And Norwegian pop five-piece, Popium, whose debut single 'Anchor Down' was selected as BBC Radio 2’s single of the week this summer, released their album 'Anchor Down’ this autumn.

Finally, like the pitch-black bird with which she shares a name, Norwegian singer Marion Raven has already been hard at work conquering the world. Following her recent UK tour with US rocker Meat Loaf and their top 10 single ‘It’s all coming back to me now’, Raven has now released her debut album 'Set Me Free'. All the songs were written or co-written by Raven and feature her on both guitar and piano.

Marion Raven's debut album 'Set Me Free' is out now in UK stores.

Designer Christmas

Norwegian design has not been the most accessible to British shoppers who’ve instead had plenty of Finnish glass or Danish and Swedish furniture to choose from when decorating their homes. However, that’s about to change for internet-savvy shoppers as an Oslo-based store specialising in Norwegian design has launched an online service. At Pur Norsk’s website, www.purnorsk.com/, you can order the latest of Norwegian design items and have them sent to your doorstep. Easy peasy.

If online shopping’s not your thing and you prefer physically swiping your plastic, Skandium, the London store selling the best of Nordic design, has opened up a new flagship store in Kensington. Here you can find celebrated design trio Norway Says’s Im Boo carafe which was part of this year’s 100% Norway exhibition at 100% Design in London. And if you’re not sitting comfortably, why not invest in some of Fjord Fiesta lounge chairs that are available at the store.

Norwegian lighting designer Cathrine Kullberg’s 'Norwegian Forest' lamps, which show a deep pine forest with animals in light and shade, are now sold at London stores Mint and Showhome. When lit, the blonde birch veneer shines with a warm glow, and the delicately cut forest motif allows white light to filter out between the highlights of the trees – simply perfect for Christmas, and for the rest of the year! The Mint store is also rumoured to start selling a number of the products exhibited at 100% Norway 2007, so watch this spot...

Norwegian baby fashion is also staring to make an impact in the UK. The very first Ugly Children’s Clothing collection launched in autumn 2006. The baby clothes come with a fun ‘body bag’ and have proved to be a hit with stores across Europe, so now the company has produced their second collection which is sold at Harvey Nichols department stores in Leeds, Edinburgh and London as well as Harrods in Knightsbridge. Run and buy!

Get the Im Boo carafe, designed by Norway Says, at Skandium's store in Kensington. Photo: Muuto

An Ugly Children’s Clothing body comes with its own 'body bag' and are available from Harvey Nichols in Leeds, Edinburgh and London as well as Harrods. Photo: Ugly Children’s Clothing

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Jan Kjærstad’s 'The Conqueror' is the second volume of the award-winning trilogy about fictional TV celeb Jonas Wergeland.

Singer / songwriter Sondre Lerche's latest album ‘Phantom Punch’ is out in UK stores now.Photo: Ruvan Wijesooriya

Designer Cathrine Kullberg’s 'Norwegian Forest' lamps, which show a deep pine forest with animals in light and shade, are available now at London stores Mint and Showhome.Photo: Line Bøhmer Løkken

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