All I want for Christmas

…is books. And other stuff. And to be rid of Christmas clichés.

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Not surprisingly, my Christmas list has several books on it. It is; however, slightly surprising that only two of them are in English. Originally there were three, but I accidentally bought one of them before sending out the list. One of them is a beautiful hardback version of my favorite book, Catch-22 by Joseph Heller – Look how pretty it is: http://www.foliosociety.com/book/CTT/catch-22 !

I’m generally not a big fan of collecting editions or even reading hardbacks, but I can make an exception for this one. I could also accept owning a 1st edition hardback copy of Catch-22. Just in case someone decides to go a bit overboard with my present this year.

The other English book is The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath. How I don’t already own this book, I don’t know. It definitely sounds like something that’s right up my gloomy alley.

Other than that, I’m going Scandinavian. For years and years I shunned books in Danish. I suppose I may have been a bit influenced by my English studies and my life-long love of American (pop-)lit.  But in recent years I have discovered that not everything written in Danish – or translated into Danish from Norwegian (I haven’t made my mind up about Swedish) – is horrible and dull. I may even have to concede that the effectiveness of the Danish language rivals English sometimes. Sometimes.

I haven’t reviewed Karl Ove Knausgaard yet. I started reading his six volume auto-biography before I started this blog, so I’ll wait with the review until I finish it. But I will tell you that I haven’t felt this way about a writer since I discovered Bret Easton Ellis and Edgar Allan Poe. So of course three of his other books are on my list:

  • Hjemme-Ude
  • Om Efteråret
  • Sjælens Amerika

I don’t think they’ve been translated into English and I won’t guess at their titles. They’re all non-fiction, essays etc.

Another newly discovered Norwegian writer, that Knausgaard introduced me to, is Jon Fosse. I’ve just reviewed one of his short books and I have the rest of that trilogy on my list:

  • Olavs drømme
  • Kvælsvævd

No Danes? Yes, a couple of Danes. A couple of Danes that most people who are into Danish literature will have read ages and ages ago. Not me. No, I still have these to look forward to:

  • Hærværk (Havoc) by Tom Kristensen
  • Kongens Fald (Fall of the King) by Johannes V. Jensen

I expect to be really bored by these, so hopefully I’ll be pleasantly surprised.

That’s it for the Nordics. But this isn’t the only new territory I’ll be delving into. I’ve been inspired by a colleague to try my hand (and eyes) at this French guy Houellebecq. I don’t know a whole lot about him, except that he’s sparked some controversy. So I’ll give him a go with

  • Underkastelse (Submission)
  • Elementarpartikler (Atomised)

I know I won’t get all of these, so after Christmas I’ll have to go out and buy the ones I don’t get.

Are you also hoping for loads of books under the tree? Anything you’re particularly keen on getting? I hope you all have a wonderful Christmas and get everything you wish for, even if it isn’t a book.

 

Things to look forward to

I’m almost never on top of upcoming events. More often than not, I will find out that my favorite author was in town for a book-signing yesterday or that a musical I wanted to see played last week (ok, that doesn’t happen too often). I’m generally very bad at keeping up with upcoming releases. But not this time! This time I am so prepared. There are two book releases and one literature documentary coming up this fall that I’m very excited about.

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First up, the next Jonathan Franzen novel. I discovered Franzen only after the release of his bestselling Freedom. See, I’m always late to the party. But I absolutely loved that novel. Yeah ok, it may not be the Great American Novel, but as far as entertaiment value goes, it’s unbeatable. And I near tire of dysfunctional families and complete jerks.

Purity, as Franzen’s next novel is called, sounds like it’ll be along that same vein, so it has to be good. It has to!

Description stolen from Amazon:

“Young Pip Tyler doesn’t know who she is. She knows that her real name is Purity, that she’s saddled with $130,000 in student debt, that she’s squatting with anarchists in Oakland, and that her relationship with her mother – her only family – is hazardous. But she doesn’t have a clue who her father is, why her mother chose to live as a recluse with an invented name, or how she’ll ever have a normal life.

Enter the Germans. A glancing encounter with a German peace activist leads Pip to an internship in South America with the Sunlight Project, an organization that traffics in all the secrets of the world – including, Pip hopes, the secret of her origins. TSP is the brainchild of Andreas Wolf, a charismatic provocateur who rose to fame in the chaos following the fall of the Berlin Wall. Now on the lam in Bolivia, Andreas is drawn to Pip for reasons she doesn’t understand, and the intensity of her response to him upends her conventional ideas of right and wrong.”

I only hope my local book pusher will get it on release, September 1.

 

ejersbo

Next up is some exciting news about my absolute favorite Danish author, Jakob Ejersbo. Unfortunately he died before the release of his critically acclaimed Africa Trilogy (Exile, Revolution and Liberty). A great loss to Danish and Scandinavian literature, if you ask me. His writing is beautiful, dark and gritty. Three of my favorite things! On November 25 a documentary film about Ejersbo is premiering and I can’t wait. He lived part of his life in Africa and I’m very excited to know more. Not a lot of info or screening times yet, but it’s released by DOXBIO. Here in Aarhus it looks like it’ll show at Øst For Paradis. Anyone want to join?

As if that’s not enough, November 6 will see the publication of a biography on Ejersbo by Rune Skyum-Nielsen. I don’t know a whole lot about it, except it’s called Jakob Var Her and is about a group of Ejersbo’s friends going to Tanzania to spread his ashes. Here’s a short article about it. I’m definitely preordering.

If you hear about any other exciting upcoming releases, let me know!