In these times, there’s nothing better than to dive down into a good book. At The Nordic House’s library, we have a wide selection of Nordic books, DVDs, and magazines in various topics and genres, so where should we start? On this page, The Nordic House’s librarians will give tips, recommendations, and ideas to inspire you to find new and exciting reading material. Maybe they can help you to find your new favorite book?
In this video series, we are looking at interesting topics and tendencies in new Nordic literature. The topic in this video is “The edge of the North”.
The edge of the North can be hard to define. Every country has its own areas that are both depopulated but also romanticized or longed for. The literature treats these areas with humor as well as drama. The small communities are picked apart and revealed in the literature. At the same time, other works seek these areas as a place of community and look at it with love and humor.
We want to especially recommend three good literary works, that examines a different aspect of the edge of the North: Jag for ner till bror af Karin Smirnoff (SE), Naasuliar Darpi (Blomsterdalen) af Niviaq Korneliussen (GR) og Juolgevuođđu (Såle) af Niillas Holmberg (FI).
Do you want read more? We further recommend: Vi, de druknede – Carsten Jensen, Hvis det skulle komme et menneske forbi – Thomas Korsgaard, På Bornholm må man græde overalt – Martha Flyvholm Tode, Populärmusik från Vittula – Mikael Niemi, Og sådan blev det – Maren Uthaug, När vändkrets läggs mot vändkrets – Mikaela Nyman, Hvitt Hav – Roy Jacobsen, Ø – Siri Ranva Hjelm Jacobsen, De Osynliga – Roy Jacobsen
In this video series, we are looking at interesting topics and tendencies in new Nordic literature. The topic in this video is “Mothers in Nordic literature”.
The parent figure – and especially the role of the mother – has been examined and challenged in the literature the past few years. We want to recommend three good, Nordic examples of literary works that turn the traditional rosy picture of the mother on its head and look beyond the picture-perfect front. We recommend Voksne Mennesker by Marie Aubert, Den vita Staden by Karoline Ramqvist, and Mit Arbejde by Olga Ravn.
Keep an eye out for the next video, where we will look at a new and interesting topic in Nordic literature.
Do you want to read more about the Nordic literature’s treatment and exploration of parenthood and the role of the mother?
We also recommend: HHV, FRSHWN – Hanne Højgaard Viemose, Vinterbørn – Dea Trier Mørch, Nei og Atter Nei – Nina Lykke, Mit Barn – Cecilie Lind, Til min søster – Dy Plambeck, Et Dukkehjem – Henrik Ibsen, Menn i min situasjon – Per Petterson, Alt hvad du ejer – Caspar Eric, Ihmettä Kaikki – Juha Itkonen.
Novel (Danish and Greenlandic)
Niviaq Korneliussen: Blomsterdalen, 2020
An important, young Greenlandic voice wants to and must be heard: Niviaq writes empathetically about being on the road and having a hard time finding a foothold and home. A Greenlandic, gay anthropology student travels hopefully to Aarhus, but can not find herself among the Danes and longs to return to her caring girlfriend and open-minded family in West Greenland. A suicide brings her to East Greenland, where she deals with the truth about her studies as secretly as friends and family about the many suicides in villages and towns. Suicide, which is not talked about the cause of and which is silenced – even in the cemetery in Blomsterdalen, the graves have no names, only numbers. But on social media, you can scroll around the many grief emojis of the bereaved. The story closes in on the nameless protagonist, who both in the past and present feels guilty about other people’s pain, and slowly but surely, her deroute towards madness and meltdown speeds up. Does she find her way home? Read it!
Novel (Swedish and Faroese)
Mikael Niemi: Koka björn, 2017
It is the summer of 1852 in the small village Kengis in the northernmost part of Sweden. The Sami boy Jussi and his mentor, the local priest, investigate a gruesome murder and while most think the unfortunate victim was killed by a bear, Jussi and the priest think otherwise. When more mysterious murders take place the two of them investigate and things get more complicated and mysterious. In the end, Jussi himself is accused of the murders. Besides being a crime story it is also a story about the priest’s fight with ignorance and corruption and the Sami situation and the priest’s job of converting them into Christianity. It is also a sweet love story about Jussi in love with the lovely Maria. The priest’s character is based on a true story of reverend Lars Levi Læstadius and the author Mikael Niemi was born and raised close to the old parsonage in Pajala where Læstadius lived with his family.
Tine Høeg: Tour de chambre, 2020
The author does not use much punctuation in this novel either but leaves line breaks and short sentences as images of thoughts and conversations about life seen through the young writer Asta who lives in college and dates hopeless guys while she is reluctantly fascinated by and secretly in love with her best girlfriend’s boyfriend August – because you just can´t do that can you? And what happens ten years later when friends from college are invited to a memorial service for August who died far too soon of a congenital heart defect? A novel about youth infatuation friendship loneliness and grief on a tour de chambre of the heart without too many commas – and do we really need them when we have the return key …
Henning Jensen: Gennem glasvæggen, 2020
The well-known and award-winning actor openly and honestly showcases the darkest and most life-changing experiences of his life: as a 36-year-old, successful but overworked royal actor, he steps through the glass wall of the real world towards the abyss of the mind, while a year of turbulent descent to the hell of anxiety and depression and on the verge of suicide he rages around self-appointed therapists before finally coming into treatment with psychopharmica drugs, saving his live and returns to the other side of the glass wall. Read a linguistically beautiful and dramatic description of the vulnerability of the mind when things go really wrong and the madness shuts you out inside and out at the same time. Get an insight into Danish theater life with relentless adult bullying, which can executively undress even the most arrogant of its self-esteem. Well-meaning but self-absorbed therapists get a proper fur, while the real friends and skilled psychiatrists and health professionals receive eternal thanks from a humble Henning Jensen, who still many years later recognizes death alive on the other side of an all-consuming depression and anxiety.
Stine Pilgaard: Meter i sekundet, 2020
An entertaining story about a young woman and new mother who, as an appendix to her folk high school teacher-boyfriend in a small Jutland town, is challenged and subtly provoked by the province, its forms of conversation, and habits. The modern big city woman feels overlooked and leftover as a human being, while she anthropologically studies the behavior of her fellow human beings and happens to stalk the well-known TV documentary filmmaker, Anders Agger, whom she admires and gives awkward greetings in their casual encounters. She side-jobs and answers a magazine advice column in a witty and rather arrogant way based on her own selfish-philosophical experiences while at the same time commenting on her life with newly composed folk high school songs spontaneously to the occasion in her own documentary about life in the West Jutland provincial town.
Kirsten Thorup: Indtil vanvid, indtil døden, 2020
A gruesome story of the encounter with madness and death under very special fanatic conditions. Danish Harriet leaves her two small children in Denmark in 1942 to seek relief from her grief as a widow when her husband is shot down over the Eastern Front in his work as an officer in the German Air Force. Harriet naively travels to Munich to stay for four months with a Danish / German couple belonging to the Nazi upper class by virtue of her husband’s work as a lieutenant general in the Luftwaffe. Along the way and in the home of her hosts, the Harriet encounters a cacophony of destinies, which under violent pressure from an ultra-fanatical and violent radical regime changes behavior, loses themselves, and perishes in the horror regime of evil. Harriet fights for her and others’ survival, but falls short surrounded by Göbbel’s propaganda machine and flees back to Denmark. The story written without delay is intrusive and must be read because its message of evil under radicalized forms of government is eternally important.
Iben Mondrup: Tabita, 2020
Five-year-old Tabita and her younger brother are torn up and adopted by business manager Bertel and his wife in the 1960s when the Danish couple after some years of living Greenland moves back to Denmark. The little Greenlandic girl longs terribly for home and finds only comfort in her little brother and her soulful doll, while her Danish parents’ marriage creaks heavily and the younger brother suddenly disappears. The tale of the little girl’s struggle with being someone else is a slow and powerful told nightmare. The Greenlandic nature and culture are described in detail in the meeting with the expectations that Danish culture is superior. Read the book and get an insight into past time´s relationship between children and adults, the Greenland / Denmark relationship, about painful love, failure, concealment and powerlessness.
Hanne Højgaard Viemose: HHV, FRSHWN Dødsknaldet i Amazonas, 2019
A fragmentary and wild novel about Danish Hanne’s experiences, thoughts and a troubled mind in respectively Denmark, the Amazons and Iceland, about her life with the occasionally psychotic Icelandic ex-husband and their amazingly inventive children, about her rough young adult experiences with love in North Jutland, about anthropology student Anita in the jungle, the relationship with a married man and a stalker while cycling around the city between the children’s day care center and the psychiatric emergency room … There are strong opinions on climate and capitalism, and all kind of things happen in Hanne’s life, so she has to spend time in the Icelandic nature to ask questions and perhaps find answers and calmness in her journey in and out of herself and others during both clear and unclear borderline moments along the way with herself as a woman. There is tempo and break-up in Hanne’s stormy writing style and river of words, so hold on tight as you let yourself get pulled into her life, or make a stop now and then and take a breath for yourself and Hanne.
Picture from TV Nord
Short stories (Danish)
Thomas Korsgaard: Tyverier, 2019
15 short stories about secrecy, loneliness, and hope seen in the eyes of different people, for example about having their past revealed in front of a post office worker, about fleeing a family lunch after the truth has been revealed, about trying to sell insurance to a dying, hoping to socialize New Year’s Eve while humbly competing with another peeler for a piece of destroyed salmon in the supermarket’s container. Read the short stories if you are interested in the Nordic minimalist writing style and would like to read about stealing things and secrets without anyone possibly discovering them. The short stories must be a treat to a teacher in Danish letting the students explore the stories.
Crime novel (Norwegian, translated into Danish)
Helene Uri: Sort is, 2019
Read a captivating story of a home confined elderly couple – locked in because the winter cold has made it dangerous to go out on the slippery black iced sidewalks, but also locked inside a marriage where an intense drama lurks just below the surface. The married couple Ebba and Karl do not exactly have the same need to go out to buy food and get fresh air, but it also turns out that they do not agree on each other’s ambitions and need for development throughout life. Love and marriage may be a matter of compromise, but at what price do they send each other eternal smiles and loving remarks when it might be pretending? Who has the right to define a good marriage, and when is it domestic violence? What does revenge actually feels like when an accident takes place and you need to let the other feel your pain? A smoldering dialogue creates a quiet but violent drama that is rolled up over a few days confined…
Picture from goodreads and pinterest
Crime novel (Danish)
Niels Krause-Kjær: Mørkeland, 2019
Just before the parliamentary elections, this political crime novel takes the life of a government clerk. An elderly, experienced journalist and newly-educated young trainee are on the verge of extensive fraud committed by a secret circle of politicians and government officials who see themselves as the resistance movement during World War II. The book is an independent continuation of Krause-Kjær’s debut novel Kongekabale (2000), which was made into a movie. The author knows his political crafts and has important views on media development, political populism, and Europe’s vulnerability in a new world. He describes skillfully and with a good deal of humor in parliament as well as the relationship with the 4th state power. As a reader, you will be able to find many fictitiously invented personal characters rooted in quite a recognizable reality.
Picture from K – Danish Art Foundation.
Maren Uthag: En lykkelig slutning, 2019
A truly different family chronicle of the work of seven generations of undertakers, one undertaker more special than the other. Nicholas loves corpses but knows that it is socially and culturally unacceptable. Looking back on his family history, each generation’s bizarre tendencies unfold in the face of a booming business of superstition and ghosts, pity killings, epidemics, OCD, pyromania, cremation, and necrophilia. The book is not just a family drama but also an insight into the cultural history of death with its many facets of contemporary traditions and morals; something that we can learn from and be intrigued by the insight of today´s pandemic while being entertained by the author’s serious and humorous grasp of the individual’s psychological challenges. Read it and be amazed!
Picture from Bogmagasinet.
Memoir novel (Danish)
Malene Lei Raben: Fruen, 2019
How to live a life when as a child you loved your strong and freedom-seeking mother through the youth rebellion in the 1970s, then as a young woman you are left in the throes of the same ambitious, troublesome and egocentric mother who clearly shows that she hates her own daughter? How is it as an adult to experience slander from your mother and watch your own children turn against you? How do you look after yourself in the middle of a new millennium when you have chosen the same career strategy as your mother but can never make her content or proud? How do you survive your mother’s course of illness when you have a giant pleaser gene and are in a double bind trap with your dying mother who chooses the victim role and accuses her daughter of always failing? You hit bottom and slowly lick your wounds knowing that you have tried everything you could out of love and loyalty, even if you were misunderstood. Read this angry but also forgiving memoir about a difficult and fiercely challenging relationship between a daughter and her mother.
Picture from JP – Politikens Hus.
Merete Pryds Helle: Nora, 2019
The novel is one of three Nordic reinterpretations of Henrik Ibsen’s plays – here a reinterpretation of Et dukkehjem (1879). The young and in love woman, Nora breaks up from her father’s house and marries Torvald, gives birth to a child and submits to the increasing depression of her husband while she disregards herself and her desire for knowledge. However, the notion of a happy marriage requires many sacrifices of Nora, who eventually feels trapped by the norms of the time. She bets everything and travels to the south with her Torvald in search of a cure for his dark state of mind. But Nora develops in the encounter with independent women and sees Torvald for who he is, after which she sees herself, frees herself and breaks out from the strict grip of conventions and the women’s view of the time. Read the book for the many fine layers of portrayal and understand what gives Nora the courage to leave home, husband and children.
Picture from Alt.dk and fra Plusbog
Crime novel (Danish)
Katrine Engberg: Vådeskud, 2019
This book is the fourth in the series about the police investigative team Jeppe Kørner and Anette Werner as well as the helpful, retired literature professor Esther De Laurenti. A new disappearance case annoys the police investigators and lurks to the reader’s dismay as a teenage boy disappears leaving a strange (farewell) letter; is he abducted or has he taken his own life? The boy’s wealthy family has many secrets and challenges the police investigation, which comes well around today’s Copenhagen on land and at sea. Kørner and Werner are a quirky and vulnerable duo whose private life develops very differently through the four volumes Krokodillevogteren (2016), Blodmåne (2017) and Glasvinge (2018). As a reader, you are lead astray along the way, but at the end of the book, you are delighted with the once again cleverly crafted plot of the author. A good crime series that fully lives up to what you can expect from the genre.
Pictures from People’s Press and Goodreads
Novel (Norwegian and translated into Danish)
Johanna Frid: Nora eller brænd Oslo brænd, 2019
A Scandinavian novel about jealousy that takes place between the young love couple Swedish Johanna and Danish Emil and the latter’s ex-girlfriend Norwegian Nora. The ex-girlfriend is all that Johanna is not: beautiful, photogenic and popular on social media. When Emil meets the ex-girlfriend, Johanna embarks on a painful stalking of Nora on Instagram, and despite Emil’s assurances of his love for Johanna, she is eaten up by jealousy and by constant and disabling endometrial pain in the abdomen – the book’s other finely described theme. The jealousy and not least the Scandinavian cultural differences and similarities are described by the young author with black humor. Remarkable enough, the book also has a linguistic help guide to the novel’s Scandinavian lines at the back, so here is a youthful smiley in its place J
Picture from Grand Agency
Novel (Finnish, translated into Danish)
Selja Ahava: Før min mand forsvinder, 2019/ Ennen kuin mieheni katoaa, 2017
An auto fictional novel about getting emotionally lost when one’s husband through ten years of marriage suddenly one morning declares: “In reality, I’ve always wanted to be a woman.” Read a very empathizing first-hand account of perplexity, confusion, and trouble understanding a gender change and changing of that reality, past, and future you thought you had. The author is in this novel just like her award-winner Pludselig falder ting fra himlen / Taivaalta tippuvat asiat (2018) a master at describing and documenting the awkward moment when everything stands still, and how to slowly recognize and adjusting yourself with a new situation determined by outside coincidences – about the grief of losing a beloved person who is still there. Parallel to the story of the couple’s challenge to the identity change is the story of Columbus’s journey across the world – finding new land.
Pictures from Randers Bibliotek and Goodreads
Non-fiction literature on painting art (Danish)
Annette Rosenvold Hvidt and Gertrud Oelsner: Vilhelm Hammershøi – på sporet af det åbne billede, 2018
Read a very thorough review of Vilhelm Hammershøi’s life from an art and cultural-historical perspective. Painter Hammershøi is one of the best known Danish painters in the world and stands out from his contemporary painter colleagues. He was strongly inspired by the invention and development of the 19th century photography, and he sensibly painted the silence and absence but also the presence in monochrome colors with a Nordic cool palette. Architecture painted with douche colors and as if in a light fog grabs the viewer. Hammershøi in particular painted the light experienced from the indoors and was captivated by windows and doors in old stately buildings, usually his own home. He was very well traveled but found the motifs in his everyday life often with his wife as a model in their home living rooms in Strandgade, Copenhagen. The painter’s mother, sister, brother, and wife, as well as his mentor P. S. Krøyer, live through the book’s many photographs, drawings, paintings, postcards, and letters. Borrow the library’s perhaps heaviest book and allow yourself to enjoy and find the stories in Hammershøi’s most beautiful paintings.
Pictures from Dagbladet and goodreads
Karen Fastrup: Hungerhjerte, 2018
An amazing memoir novel about the author and translator Karen’s own life of living like a crazy bullet, having a wild animal inside her, and in between behaving insanely. About a difficult childhood with a complicated father, loss of a younger brother, anxiety, and suicidal thoughts that later in life mean that she has to be hospitalized in the psychiatric emergency ward as she attacks her boyfriend with a knife. You are brought fully underneath the skin of Karen, who until then has lived an almost normal yet different life with lovers, children, and career. It is a great reading experience because through Karen’s everyday life you get sucked into her sometimes chaotic thinking and an authentic meeting with psychiatry and treatment institutions, about her fear of being diagnosed (with borderline) and about her belief in the future when learning to accommodate and accept the terms she is given when she e.g. multi dates via Tinder and regains her desire to write.
Picture from Vildumed.dk
Crime novel (Danish)
Jesper Stein: Solo, 2018
This is the sixth but certainly also independent, worth reading and exciting crime novel in the series of Axel Steen’s investigative assignments. Former Deputy Commissioner Axel Steen, now a security adviser, must assist his new employer, the wealthy bank director who himself will decide the rules, when an employee of his investment bank has cheated and must be laid off. At the same time, Axel Steen’s former colleague Vicki Thomsen is investigating the murder of a gang-related young immigrant in the ghetto where no one wants to speak, and she tries to get her former mentor but very reluctant Axel Steen to help with the police investigation. Morality and justice are put to the test in the two inflamed tasks, where the social classes have vastly different conditions and opportunities for survival. The author’s previous work as a journalist, law and crime reporter leaves nothing behind. The crime series features the titles Uro (2012), Bye bye Blackbird (2013), Akrash (2014), Aisha (2015) and Papa (2017).
Pictures from Politikensforlag and Kverbókaútgáfa
Non-fiction literature on women life (Danish)
Renée Toft Simonsen: Jeg er f*cking hot, 2018
A personally written book for you who, like the author, is around 50 and experiences hormone changes in the same way as when you were a teenager – or for those who just want to gain insight into women’s menopause, emerging vulnerability and roller coaster rides of reflections on the decay and shortcomings of the body, as a woman no longer being as hot in appearance but having hot flushes during the night, children leaving the nest, divorces and other epoch-making events overwhelm you in the middle of life. The scientific discoveries of psychology and physics on the subject are presented, but it is probably the fascination of psychologist and former supermodel Renée Toft Simonsen’s ability to tell her story in a well-formulated way about her f*cking hot everyday life filled with cafe latte, cigarettes, love and beautiful children that will intrigue you.
Pictures from Politikensforlag and ALT
Crime novel (Danish)
Søren Svejstrup: Kastanjemanden, 2018
The two police investigators from the Copenhagen Police’s Department of Homicide, the young and ambitious Naia Thulin and the career-parked Mark Hess with the sad past, are busy getting back on track with an otherwise completed investigation into the alleged murder of the Minister of Social Affairs. The story of the leftover chestnuts at various murder scenes is gruesome, and there are many parallel intelligent clues put out by the author. The crime novel is well-written and well thought out, and you have to search long for a well-composed plot like this – this is a book you do not put away until night has turned into day, for the like of a well-orchestrated and multifaceted course of action is not often seen! Svejstrup was also the screenwriter on the TV series Nikolaj og Julie and Forbrydelsen – do you remember The Killing?
Pictures from Arnoldbusk and politikensforlag
Lotte Kaa Andersen: Syv sind, 2018
The final book in the romantic trilogy about life among the upper class after the financial crisis at one of Denmark’s richest addresses in Hellerup north of Copenhagen. We are not only invited into the pretty surface with beautiful, luxuriant and flowering gardens and large mansion villas with interior designer living rooms – it is also an entertaining description of the shadows and the true tales of the lives lived with love, quarrels and power struggles among spouses, questionable child upbringing, sugar babe and top career, shameful petty larceny in the supermarket and a little too much red wine, while some are born for money, some are newly rich, and others feel completely misplaced and just want to go home to Jutland. We are brought in under the shiny surface of seven neighboring families’ private lives after the pursuit of happiness and meaning with life – a page turner! Read first Hambros Allé 7-9-13 (2015) and 100 dage (2016).
Pictures from goodreads and artebooking