Wednesday, April 28, 2010

on auricula

"Much of this appears in subclauses and people will say to themselves: he’s making this up! But they can check and see: all of it’s true! And then they’ll suppose all the rest of it’s true as well, which it isn’t!"

Højholt on his then unfinished 'Auricula', in conversation with Lars Johansson in 1997, from Johansson's book Udsatte egne - det er mig. Samtaler med Per Højholt (Borgen, 1998)

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

new letters

Just out, and featuring two of the aforementioned stories by Dorthe Nors. Thomas E. Kennedy, too. See contents and read The Duckling and She frequented cemeteries here>>

Saturday, April 24, 2010

on auricula

Just found this English piece on Auricula, from Nordic Literature Yearbook 2003.

Friday, April 23, 2010


Dorthe Nors (here>>), whose stories I've translated for AGNI, The Boston Review, Fence Magazine and New Letters, has a new book out in Danish on May 7. If the other stuff's anything to go by, you should buy it. Pulitzer winner 2009, Junot Díaz, was prompted to write this after reading those stories:

Beautiful, faceted, haunting stories ... Dorthe Nors is fantastic ... a rising star of Danish letters.


The spring issue of Danish Literary Magazine, just out online, features an extract from my sample translation of multi-talent Mathilde Walter Clark's riotous new novel, Priapus. Read it here>>.

Have a look, too, at Mathilde's website (here>>).

Thursday, April 22, 2010


Things to do between jobs. Like, finally, a sample translation of Per Højholt's monumentally absurd Auricula. If this is to be published, it'll be the slowest, most meticulous translation ever. And my epitaph will say: He translated Auricula and needs the rest.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

in the company of angels

Copenhagen-based writer, editor, lecturer Thomas E. Kennedy (here>>), also an adept translator of Danish literature (e.g. Dan Turèll, Henrik Nordbrandt), is currently in the middle of a major-league international breakthrough with Bloomsbury just having published In The Company of Angels, the first in Kennedy's already well-reviewed Copenhagen quartet, previously out on now-defunct Irish small press Wynkin de Worde.

'Absinthe Minded', the blog of US journal Absinthe, has a piece including review extracts here>>.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

i am not here

Dorph/Pasternak (here>>). Two novels already out, third just done: Jeg er ikke her. I Am Not Here. Nordic crime, dark as fuck. Easily the best thing going on in the genre here. The Danish original won't be out for a while, but here's a brief taster from the English sample:

Erik Rohde turned his head in front of the bathroom mirror and pulled back his lips with two fingers. He got the torch in his mouth and found the right angle and turned it on. Fine and smooth it was, and he felt the relief in his stomach, the penicillin had done the trick. He felt with the tip of his tongue, caught his pupil in the mirror, made to contract by the light. Be fine again. He opened his mouth again to make sure, and there on the back of his tongue was a nubbly lustre of tiny white spots. The thrush was all over now, inside the dark of his organism. He felt dizzy and imagined it spreading to his guts and eating him up and spitting him out so he tumbled into his open grave. He got his head over the toilet bowl and felt the spasms in his stomach, but there was only slime to come up and some of it landed on the seat. There were dark strands in it, he wiped it up with his index finger and turned it in the pale light. Blood.
“Dad, are you finished in there?”
“Go back to bed and sleep, Marie”
“I need a wee.”
“Can’t you use the downstairs toilet?”
“It’s too cold.”
“Go, for Christ’s sake!”
It was quiet again and he heard Marie Louise go down the corridor and the stairs to the ground floor creak. He felt sorry he’d snapped. He heard the door of the downstairs toilet. Kartoffelrækkerne – the Potato Rows – crooked, old houses in three storeys facing the Lakes, full of your kids and my kids, now our kids, stripped pine furniture, Christiania bikes and architects, nothing more than stairs and built-in cupboards, tiny rooms, and you couldn’t open a door without the whole place creaking and groaning and howling.
He stood listening to the sounds of the house. Ann Charlotte had put on a record. Bartok’s concerto for viola and orchestra. She was saying something to Marie now, he couldn’t hear what.
He and Ann Charlotte rarely spoke, he avoided her, they were busy, took turns staying at work and looking after Peter. The little chap with his middle ear infections since March, and they’d drained the fluid, it got better, he wasn’t crying any more at night, but it hadn’t really gone away either.
He missed her.
Rohde clenched his fist. It’d all be like before, before the fever and the thrush and the dry cough, the purple rash on his throat and his face, and the eternal stitch in his side and the nausea. The new broad-spectrum penicillin just needed time to kick in.
He stood at the mirror again. Had he put on weight as well?
He opened the cupboard and took out Ann Charlotte’s powder case, it was Chanel, there was a little beige pad in it. He smoothed some powder out with difficulty, pressed it with his finger, it seemed so stupid, but he was obsessed by it, covered up the purple spots, covered up his whole face.
He looked in the mirror again.
Good as new.
He smiled. Nightshift in twenty minutes. KCB. Kriminalpolitiets Centrale Beredskab. Crime Investigation Department. He put on his work clothes, light blue shirt, flannels, Ecco shoes.
Six hours by himself.
Six hours to think about something else.

© Christian Dorph & Simon Pasternak 2010
Translation © Martin Aitken 2010

until you perish

Julie Hastrup's debut crime novel En torn i øjet (here>>) was published recently to decent reviews by Gyldendal, having initially been set to come out on now defunct Bazar. English title for the sample is Until You Perish. Here's the murder:

The blow was hard and abrupt. Anna collapsed on top of the branch, striking her forehead as she fell. Something warm and sticky ran down her face. She struggled to get to her feet, and was dealt a second blow to the back of the head. Her face was mashed into the ground. Her mouth filled with earth and gravel. She tried to scream, but the sound stuck in her throat. She felt another’s breath against her skin, and a familiar scent. There was a third, savage blow. A sound of something splintering. Blood spewed into her mouth. She felt the surge of nausea, and gradually became faint and lifeless inside. Come on, come on! Get away! She wanted to pick up the branch or find a sharp stone, defend herself. Fight. But her body would no longer comply. She felt something sharp in her back. Over and over. There was a faint gurgling. Suddenly, she was in doubt as to whether it was her own. Then sound disappeared. The last thought in her mind was: “Now I am dying,” and in some way it was a comfort. Nothing more could happen to her now.

© Julie Hastrup and Bazar Forlag ApS 2009
Translation © Martin Aitken 2009


Janne Teller's Nothing, recently published in my translation by Simon & Schuster's Atheneum, imprint has received its fourth starred review in the States - no mean achievement. The review - in The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books - has gone online here>>

Sunday, April 4, 2010


Jacob Ejersbo's critically acclaimed African trilogy - Exile, Revolution, Liberty - is being published in the UK by Christopher Maclehose's Quercus. Maclehose, who previously brought both Peter Høeg and Stieg Larsson to the attention of British readers, is interviewed here>> in Politiken (Danish only).