ANTI DRAMA QUEEN
It takes a special woman to source great drama out of trivial, everyday events. But Helle Helle manages it, seemingly effortlessly. Her superficially eventless works are spellbinding and, in all their absence of plot, deliver more tension than the most twisting and turning crime novel. Her understated prose is close to stylistic perfection – not least in its dialogue – and captures modern people in superb scenarios, circling around the conflicts that arise from life’s everyday routines. She always leaves the reader to judge the allusions in the text. As her authorship has progressed, Helle Helle’s key motif has been the depiction of women at the edge of Danish society for whom life has more or less stopped. Thus in her previous novel, Dette burde skrives i nutid (This Should be Written in the Present Tense, 2011), we follow a young woman in a small provincial town. A woman full of self-doubt. What’s she good at? What does she want? She’s actually doing a course at university, but spends her days flitting between her rented house and Copenhagen, shopping and writing personal songs for special occasions – and dreaming about being an author. In Helle Helles latest novel, Hvis det er (If it is), a man and woman meet
It’s the quiet souls to be found in Danish provincial life who retain award winning author Helle Helle’s abiding interest. In book after book, she has distilled her innate minimalism down to a fine art. The word “masterpiece” seems to find its way into almost all reviews of her work. in a forest. They’re both out jogging. They both lost their way. It gets dark. They spend one night in a hut and tell bits of their lives to each other. Then the dawn comes and they find their way to a house. They spend the next night here. Then they go to a bus stop on a main road. And that’s it. But within this slender frame story, Helle Helle succeeds in encasing two lives and their destinies – masterfully and with elegance. Helle Helle, born in 1965, debuted in 1993 with the pointillist novel Eksempler på liv (Examples from life), but she first came to prominence with both the novel Rødby-Puttgarden (Rødby-Puttgarden, 2005), that received the Critics Prize, and Ned til hundene (Down to the Dogs, 2008), which was nominated for the Nordic Council’s Literature Prize. In 2009, she received the P.O. Enquist Award, whilst her previous novel Dette burde skrives i nutid (This Should be Written in the Present Tense, 2011) gained the Danish Bookshop Association’s
Golden Wreath Prize, not to mention rave reviews from the critics. The newspaper Information said: ‘It goes without saying that Dette burde skrives i nutid (This Should be Written in the Present Tense) is a fantastic novel – yet another slim and nonchalant masterpiece from Helle Helle’s hand.’
“Helle Helle writes minimalistic masterpieces in seemingly simple, compressed prose, yet a prose incredibly full of underlying subtetxts.“ PER OLOV ENQUIST
Hvis det er (If it is) Samleren 2014, 146 pages. FOREIGN RIGHTS: Gyldendal Group Agency, Sofie Voller, firstname.lastname@example.org PREVIOUS TITLES SOLD TO: Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Estonia, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Serbia, Slovakia, Sweden, United Kingdom.
PHOTO: SOFIE AMALIE KLOUGART
DANISH LITERARY MAGAZINE
Published on Oct 1, 2014
This autumn’s book season is upon us and Danish Literary Magazine highlights some new books that show where Danish literature is ‘at’ right...