International Society for Traumatic Stress Studies

Trauma and World Literature: Norwegian By Night by Derek B. Miller

12/31/2017
by Howard Lipke, PhD
Sheldon Horowitz, the central character in Derek B. Miller’s novel Norwegian By Night, is a Jewish-American combat veteran of the Korean War who is haunted by much in his past and, especially, by self-blame regarding deaths for which he had varying degrees of agency. These include but are not limited to the death of a comrade in Korea, his own son’s death in the Vietnam/US war and the Nazi’s murder of Jews in the Holocaust. He is richly drawn and his emotions, especially rage, are creatively and profoundly portrayed. While Sheldon has experienced many things which could lead to intrusive painful recollections/nightmares, it is events he only imagines regarding the death of his son which are most prominent. The following passage describes his sleep disturbance. The brief reflection on his wife’s own sleep disturbance in the wake of their son’s death is also particularly poignant.

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