Jens Christian Grondahl is one of the most celebrated and widely read writers in Europe. Born in Denmark in 1959, his literary work includes thirteen novels, essays and several plays. Three of his novels, Lucca, Silence in October and Virginia, were published by Canongate to outstanding acclaim. His fiction has been translated into sixteen languages, and he has been the recipient of numerous awards, including the Booksellers' Golden Laurels for Lucca.
Celebrated Danish novelist Grmndahl makes his U.S. debut, and it is entirely welcome. His narrator is an art historian whose wife, Astrid, has inexplicably departed. Why did she leave? Will she return? These are the questions her husband ponders as he tracks her progress through Europe (via credit card use and bank withdrawals) to a place in Portugal that has special meaning for them. At the same time, he slowly sifts through his memories, recalling how they met (as a cab driver, he picked her up with her child as she was abandoning her unfaithful husband, a famous film director) and how they built a life together with a child of their own, now grown. At first, the reader's sympathies lie with the narrator, but slowly the story shifts, and he discloses an affair that Astrid may or may not have surmised. In the end, the novel reveals the complicity of both partners in making a marriage, for better or for worse. This is indeed an "October" novel, meditative, melancholic, and profoundly right in its portrait of the scrapings and balancings of married life. Not for the action crowd, this is instead highly recommended wherever people read for substance. Barbara Hoffert, "Library Journal" Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
This spare new novel by acclaimed Danish author Grindahl tells the story of a dissolving marriage in a complex, elliptical and moving way. At the book's start, a Danish art historian wakes up in Copenhagen to find that his wife, Astrid, is leaving him. The novel then traces the events leading up to this separation. The art historian met his now departed wife while driving a cab to put himself through grad school; she happened to hail him the day she left her first husband. She sought refuge with her cabbie, and the two of them ended up together for 18 years. During the course of their marriage, the art historian falls in love with a sculptor while visiting New York on business. Though his great intelligence affords him many insights, it does not keep his private life from falling into disarray. Grindahl carves out a convincing milieu for his protagonist, with numerous believable characters, including the alternately sensible and volatile Astrid and various sly denizens of the art world. Images and events from the present and the past are seamlessly blended so that single sentences or paragraphs sometimes span years. Grindahl's Proustian game playing with the strictures of time is seductive and often captivating, a narrative tightrope that he walks without a stumble. He sprinkles the book, as well, with knowing observations about human nature, characters' perceptions of each other and memory itself, lending his tale a poetic depth that never ceases to surprise. (Oct.) Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
* superb ... Grondahl manages the near impossible: he makes the self-absorbed protagonist sympathetic and shows how a man may not know his wife at all after years of marriage. Grondahl's prose, translated by Ann Born, is electrically charged, while the plot is gripping and full of emotion, making Silence in October a winner all the way. The Times * a novel of quite extraordinary complexity and insight by one of Denmark's most celebrated writers ... This is a challenging book, both for its unconventional form and for the density of its ideas. But the rewards for perseverance are great. Not least as an introduction to a writer who is already hugely acclaimed in Europe, and whose debut in our own language is long overdue. The Scotsman * Grondahl handles his montage skilfully, keeping confusion at bay and creating an impression of harmony rather than disjointedness. The prose, in Anne Born's skilful translation, is easy to read, in spite of the abstract nature of much of the subject matter; the narrative is beautifully written, effortlessly flowing and packed with visual snapshots ... ultimately very moving. Times Literary Supplement * A work of immense acuity and masterful storytelling ... beautifully crafted. The Latest