Professor Andersen’s Night follows the story of Pal Andersen, an ageing university professor who is witness to the strangulation of an unknown young woman in his neighbour’s front room on Christmas Eve. It examines the professor’s dilemma with the ethical and moral reasons behind reporting or not reporting the crime he has just witnessed.
Solstad takes us through the professor’s array of emotional questions aside from those relating to the reporting of the crime, such as the dwindling of beliefs he and his colleagues held in their youth and the philosophical questions of life and the nature of being itself. One cannot help but think of Solstad as a modern day Chekov, and the book as not only a journey through one man’s witness to a crime and his struggle to report it, but through his resulting downward spiral into a philosophical mid-life crisis that examines his own origins and the resulting break-down he experiences as he comes to realise that his lifelong studies have run to dead-end.
Understated, bleak, wry and also overwhelmingly intelligent, Professor Andersen’s Night will have you asking yourself the question: “If you were witness to a violent crime in your neighbour’s house, would you choose to report it?”