The article takes as its subject Gaute Heivoll's latest novel Over det kinesiske hav [Across the Chinese Ocean], which describes the establishment of a private nursing home at Finsland in Vest-Agder county immediately before the liberation. The novel's protagonist describes retrospectively how his parents adopted a number of mentally disabled persons, among them a group of siblings from Stavanger. When their adoptive family is exposed to a tragedy, views on who are the providers and receivers of care are challenged, as are concepts such as madness and normality. The article shows how a fictional exposée of conditions for the mentally disabled in recent Norwegian history can provide new perspectives on historic health and care practices. Reading Gaute Heivoll's Over det kinesiske hav highlights the practice of placing patients in private care, as well as the 1934 Act that authorised the sterilisation of mentally disabled persons.