Sunday, 2 May 2010

Book of the Week - Carsten Jensen, "We, the drowned"

“We, the drowned” is a novel by Danish author and political columnist Carsten Jensen, who was born on July 24, 1952 in Marstal. He first earned recognition as a literary critic for the Copenhagen daily, Politiken. According to Henning Mankell, “Carsten Jensen is without doubt the most fascinating Nordic writer today. I look forward to his books with great impatience. Jensen is the best storyteller around.”

Jensen’s debut novel I Have Seen the World Begin (1996) was awarded the Golden Laurels prize. In the same year, he published his second novel, Jeg har hørt et stjerneskud (I Have Heard a Shooting Star). In 2006, Jensen published Vi, de druknede (We, the Drowned), a chronicle about the birth of modern Denmark, seen through the history of his hometown Marstal. It quickly became a bestseller, with 120,000 copies sold in Denmark and was acclaimed by the critics and the public. In 2007, Jensen was awarded the most prestigious Danish literary prize, the Danske Banks Litteraturpris. He has also recently received the Swedish Olof Palme Prize. His latest novel, Sidste rejse, was released in 2007.

According to reviewers, “We, the drowned” is destined to become a modern classic. If you hunt around, it is still possible to pick up a signed and dated copy at cost £17.99, which is likely to be an excellent investment.

“This is an epic drama of adventure, courage, ruthlessness and passion by one of Scandinavia’s most acclaimed storytellers. In 1848 a motley crew of Danish sailors sets sail from the small island town of Marstal to fight the Germans. Not all of them return - and those who do will never be the same. Among them is the daredevil Laurids Madsen, who promptly escapes again into the anonymity of the high seas. As soon as he is old enough, his son Albert sets off in search of his missing father on a voyage that will take him to the furthest reaches of the globe and into the clutches of the most nefarious company. Bearing a mysterious shrunken head, and plagued by premonitions of bloodshed, he returns to a town increasingly run by women - among them a widow intent on liberating all men from the tyranny of the sea. From the barren rocks of Newfoundland to the lush plantations of Samoa, from the roughest bars in Tasmania, to the frozen coasts of northern Russia, "We, The Drowned" spans four generations, two world wars and a hundred years. Carsten Jensen conjures a wise, humorous, thrilling story of fathers and sons, of the women they love and leave behind, and of the sea’s murderous promise. This is a novel destined to take its place among the greatest seafaring literature.”

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