DANISH LITERARY MAGAZINE
OUT OF THIS WORLD ‘In his new, beautiful and finely measured novel, Jens Christian Grøndahl proves himself a true successor to Albert Camus and French existentialism.’ Thus wrote Kristeligt Dagblad in 2012 with the publication of Jens Christian Grøndahl’s latest novel – Før vi siger farvel (Before we say goodbye). A work that again revealed Grøndahl as an author with great psychological insight into human emotions. Love between people of different ages, delving into their history, identity and life-choices, is a recurrent theme for Grøndahl, and this is no less true of his most recent novel Jernporten (The Iron Gate). Here we meet a man who, after a turbulent and passionate youth, lives with a feeling of having ended up in a time not his own, with no understanding of its rules and norms, or ability to engage with it. He’s getting on for sixty, was married then divorced, and has had a few half-hearted relationships. He finds it difficult to give total commitment, which is part of the reason none of his love affairs take firmer root. He works as a teacher, was reared in a family that traditionally liked to break the mould, and in many ways has worked his way up the social ladder; partly inspired by his German teacher, who was a seminal influence upon him and who steered him towards the arts and literature; thereby revealing an amazing world beyond the mundane suburbs. Thus he discovered certain ideas he felt he could live his life by; so even though he never got the university training he’d dreamed of, he’d always felt that being a schoolteacher was valuable; that he was helping to make the world a better place. But gradually he became more and more disillusioned. His pupils are more into Facebook than his classes, and he can’t hold their attention – especially not with
Rainer Maria Rilke, who had once given his own life such direction and core beliefs. But suddenly his life takes a turn, and a new reality penetrates his world: He is asked whether one of his pupils, a Croat called Stanko, might be able to stay with him whilst the pupil’s mother is away on an unavoidable journey – and at a stroke, he is in a place that he can’t fully take in, and where he feels increasingly cut off from reality, more and more as an outside observer; the same with women. Be that as it may, when he decides to celebrate his sixtieth birthday in Rome, he meets a female photographer … Jens Christian Grøndahl, born 1959,
debuted in 1985 with the novel Kvinden i midten (The woman in the middle), and quite apart from essays, dramas, children’s books etc., has also written novels such as Tavshed i oktober (Silence in October), Lucca (Lucca), Et andet lys (A different light) and Fire dage i marts (Four days in March). He has won many awards both in Denmark and abroad, including the Prix Jean Monnet de Littérature Européenne in 2007.
JENS CHRISTIAN GRØNDAHL
Jernporten (The Iron Gate) Gyldendal 2014, 300 pages. FOREIGN RIGHTS: Jens Christian Grøndahl, email@example.com. PREVIOUS TITLES SOLD TO: More than twenty countries.
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...