Thorvald Steen

The White Bathhouse

Det hvite badehuset

It is just before Advent. He receives a phone call from an unknow woman claiming that she is his cousin. There’s never been much talk of the family on his mother’s side. He has never known the name of his grandfather. Now he discovers new truths and relatives he never knew about, and with them difficult questions come up.

He lives with an inherited illness that has forced him into a wheelchair. Is the secrecy in the family connected to the chromosome abnormality he has inherited? Will what he has found out about his grandfather give him insight into his own life?

The White Bathhouse is a story of origins, shame, concealment and the costs of being honest.

Steen det hvite badehuset omslag 658x1024

‘Steen transforms personal experience to high quality fiction … In a rich, complex text where elements close to reality are used with careful craft, Steen tells a revealing and frighteningly topical story of the fear of being different, of contempt and self-contempt. It should find its way to many readers.’


‘A powerful, wise book about living with a very serious diagnosis … Steen is a literary craftsman of the highest order.’

Fædrelandsvennen, 5 out of 6 stars
Steen, thorvald photo per maning
Photo: Per Maning

Thorvald Steen (b. 1954) made his literary debut in 1983, and he has subsequently published a wide range of novels, plays, collections of poems, books of short stories, children’s books and essays. He has distinguished himself as one of Norway’s leading internationally-oriented writers. His Norwegian breakthrough came in 1992 with a cycle of poems, Fire and shortly afterwards he achieved international recognition with his series of inventive historical novels: Don Carlos (1993), Giovanni (1995), Constantinople (1999), The Little Horse (2002), Camel Clouds (2004) and Lionheart (2010). In 2006 Steen wrote the coming-of-age novel The Weight of Snow Crystals, which was followed in 2008 with the freestanding sequel The Longest Leap. The nameless main character of these two books also features in the critically acclaimed Balance (2012). He has been working on The Invisible Library for the last six years.

International critics have often featured Steen as an author who vitalizes the historical novel. Steen’s works are translated into more than 20 languages and he has received several literary prizes, nominations and awards both at home and abroad.