Friday, February 12, 2010

denmark in the wind

I translated this little piece for the novelist Hanne-Vibeke Holst, and then forgot all about it, until falling over it here>> in the New York Times.

Monday, February 8, 2010


My translation of Janne Teller's award-winning novel for young readers, Nothing, is published in the US and Canada by Simon & Schuster on their Atheneum imprint tomorrow. Branch magazines have already given it three so-called starred reviews. Apparently, that's exceptional. Check Booklist (December 1, 2009), Publishers Weekly (here>>) (January 4, 2010) and Kirkus Reviews (January 15, 2010) (below):

The seventh graders of Tæring School are much like any others, until Pierre Anthon has an existential crisis, climbs a tree and refuses to come back to school. The other students can’t live their lives as usual with one of their classmates sitting in a tree, pelting them with unripe plums every morning and yelling, “In a few years you’ll all be dead and forgotten and diddly-squat, nothing.” Determined to prove to Pierre Anthon that life has plenty of meaning, the students embark on a dire quest. Over the course of months, each student is required to give up something full of meaning, something chosen by the previous sacrificing student. The sacrificial items start small—a favorite pair of shoes, a fishing pole—but become more and more dreadful as the pile of meaning grows. Quietly and without fanfare, the students’ adventure develops into one that rivals Lord of the Flies for horror. The matter-of-fact, ruthlessly logical amorality of these teens is chilling. Gorgeously lyrical, as abetted by Aitken’s translation, and dreadfully bleak.

Kirkus Reviews, January 15, 2010

Sunday, February 7, 2010


While we're at it, two more of Dorthe Nors' stories in my translations have been nominated for a prestigious Pushcart Prize (see here>>) in the US. They are The Buddhist [Buddhisten] here>> in The Boston Review (Sept/Oct 2009), and The Wadden Sea [Vadehavet] in AGNI #70.

Friday, February 5, 2010

mutual destruction

The new issue of the excellent US journal FENCE Magazine (here>>) contains, amongst a wealth of other good stuff, my translation of Dorthe Nors' eerily suggestive story Gensidig aflivning from her critically acclaimed collection Kantslag [Karate Chop]. The English title is Mutual Destruction and it starts like this:

He whistles his dog to him, puts a collar on it and pulls it a short way back from the edge of the wood so they’re not stuck out like a sore thumb. It’s late in the day and there’s a big fallow field between him and Morten, so he can remain standing here. Morten is going about the farmyard with the red bitch at his heels. It’s lean and rough-haired, and he’s always only ever had Dachshunds. Small, aggressive animals that chew the lead and the floor mats in the car, and Henrik doesn’t like small dogs. But when they go hunting foxes, Morten takes his Dachshund, and when they go shooting by the fjord, Henrik takes his Small Munsterlander and the decoys. Many’s the time they’ve sat in the caravan on the Gardener’s land down in the bog, drinking weak coffee from plastic cups to the smell of wet dog and talking about how practically things divided up, Henrik having a big dog for the one thing and Morten having Dachshunds for the other. But now Morten’s going about the farmyard down there alone. A single light is shining from the kitchen window. He must have forgotten to switch it off, and the dog reaches only to his bootlegs. It looks like he’s trying to fix some part of the door in the gable end. There’s a lot needs fixing now. There’s a lot needs to sink in.

[excerpt copyright Dorthe Nors]