A 20th-century, Norwegian-American author who chronicled the lives of fellow settlers of the Dakota territory, he is best known for his award-winning historical novel, Giants in the Earth.
With little formal education, he traveled to America to work on his uncle's farm. He later graduated from Minnesota's St. Olaf College.
In his semi-autobiographical work, Giants in the Earth, he tells the story of a Norwegian homesteader family struggling to adjust to life in the New World.
He was born on the island of Dönne, in Norway. He came from a long line of fishermen and seafarers.
He and fellow author Grace Paley both wrote of people struggling to survive.