Born in 1944, he studied literature and linguistics at the University of Bergen. Before he became one of Norway's most prominent writers, he worked as a laborer and also as a sailor. His sympathy for the proletariat and his political involvement are reflected in his works. His groundbreaking novel Dollar Road, for which he received the Nordic Council Literature Prize, depicts the lives of small-town workers and sailors during the period of Norwegian post-war industrial development. His novels combine social satire with modernist language play and are characterized by a blend of European critical realism, the modern avant-garde and Latin American magical realism. He himself translated the works of the Chilean poet Pablo Neruda into Norwegian, as well as a selection from the poetry by Cuban poets. Among his extensive works, readers in the Czech Republic and Slovakia are currently only familiar with the essay Pyramid, which explores an abandoned Soviet mining town in the Svalbard archipelago, once considered the most perfect communist place in the world.