Knut Hamsun and Martin Ernstsen
Martin Ernstsen



Hunger as graphic novel: A masterpiece

“A Norwegian fiction classic has become a brand-new comics classic. This story now shines in another language – the language of the graphic novel. This is a medium the artist has mastered, bending and stretching with great persuasion in his respect for the source book.” (Grafill Jury, Gold Medal 2020).

Knut Hamsun’s Hunger (1890) is arguably the most influential Norwegian novel in history – a true classic of modern literature, and a forerunner of the psychologically driven fiction of Kafka, Camus and Saramago. The novel tells the story of a Norwegian artist who wanders the streets of Christiania (now Oslo), struggling on the brink of starvation while trying to sell his articles to the local newspaper. As hunger overtakes his body and mind, the writer slides inexorably into paranoia and despair. The descent into madness is recounted by the unnamed narrator in increasingly urgent and disjointed prose as he loses his grip on his body and on reality itself.

Arising from Hamsun’s belief that literature ought to be about the mysterious workings of the human mind – an attempt, as he wrote, to describe «the whisper of blood and the pleading of bone marrow» – Hunger is a landmark work that pointed the way towards a new kind of novel. “Transforming literature into graphic novels is much more demanding than it sounds”, according to Sørheim. “The drawings easily become insignificant appendages, or they obfuscate the literary nerve in the writing. Ernstsen’s ability to reveal new perspectives in a novel as well-known as Hunger without impairing the prose, is no small achievement.”

Winner of the Brage Prize 2019
Grafill Gold Medal Best Book Adaptation + Best Comic Book 2020

Hamsun ernstsen sult

‘A Masterpiece from Martin Ernstsen’.

Westfalenpost, Germany, 5 out of 5 stars

‘Beautiful, intense, full of humor and nerve-wracking.’


‘Knut Hamsun’s novel Hunger is a fantastic piece of literature – Martin Ernstsen has transformed the Norwegian classic into a great graphic novel.’

Süddeutche Zeitung

Knut Hamsun (1859-1952) winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1920, is the most prominent literary figure in Norway since Ibsen. From his experimental novels of the 1890s to the broader narrative sweep of his later works from the interwar period, his contribution to the development of the modern European novel was uniquely important.

Martin Ernstsen has a bachelor degree in illustration from the UK, and a master degree in Storytelling from Konstfack University in Stockholm, Sweden. He made his debut in 2007, and has since then produced several comic albums and books, amongst them the thriller Fugløya in 2009 and the panoramic animal fable Kodok’s Run, published in 2011. Some of his books have been translated to other languages such as Swedish, Polish, Finnish and Danish, and his book “Eremitt” won an award for the year’s most beautiful comic book in Norway in 2012. Along with his own comic publications he has also contributed to several comics anthologies internationally, and he has self-published a number of comics fanzines. He is also working as a children’s book author and illustrator. He currently lives and works in Oslo.