This thesis examines four Norwegian-American novels in order to investigate what light they might shed on the urban Norwegian-American immigrant community in Minneapolis. The four novels are A Saloonkeeper’s Daughter by Drude Krog Janson, Bag gardinet by Kristofer Janson, Scenes from the Life of a Newcomer: Jonas Olsen’s First Years in America by Johannes B. Wist, and The Boat of Longing by Ole E. Rølvaag.
The novels are set in Minneapolis in the period between 1880 and the early 1900s, and the hypothesis for the thesis is that they contain useful reflections of history of the urban immigrant experience there. The information in the novels is compared to different historical sources and material, such as contemporary newspapers, books and memoirs, to see if the authors have portrayed the urban Norwegian immigrant experience realistically and representatively. The aspects of the urban immigrant experience that are investigated are living conditions and socialization, language, work, church, and temperance. In addition to this, the scholarly literature concerning the formation of a Norwegian-American identity is consulted in order to evaluate whether the Norwegian-American novels were as important in this process as some of the authors hoped and believed.