The literature prize, which celebrates its 60th year in 2022, was awarded by the spouse of the President of Finland, poet Jenni Haukio, during the awards ceremony that was broadcast live from Helsinki’s Musikhuset on Tuesday evening.
Solvej Balle’s main character, Tara Selter, has involuntarily stepped off the train of time in this large-scale prose work “Om udregning af rumfang” (‘On the Calculation of Volume’, not translated into English). In her world, 18 November repeats itself endlessly. At a stroke, she no longer experiences the changes of weeks, months or seasons. The people around her do not age, and they naturally find it difficult to understand Tara’s new and rather remarkable reality. This gap in experience becomes a stroke of literary genius as it asks fundamental questions about what our individual experiences of time and space do to our lives and society.
So far, three of a planned series of seven volumes about Tara’s dislocation from time have been published. They already form a closely coherent whole, which expands in new and unpredictable ways within each volume, thereby also challenging our idea of the work as a complete whole. In this way, Solvej Balle allows the reader to relive time, not least the present, and its inherently competing perspectives on themes such as growth, activism and gender. Through the work, we realise that our present is a common concern, even if we sometimes live in our own “bubbles”.
The prize is awarded to the first three of a planned series of seven volumes about Tara Selter’s dislocation from time. They already form a closely coherent whole, which expands in new and unpredictable ways within each volume. With “Om udregning af rumfang”, Solvej Balle delivers a timely masterpiece of its time. The work is Solvej Balle’s major comeback, not just to Danish and Nordic fiction, but to European fiction in general.
Solvej Balle: Om udregning af rumfang I, II og III, Pelagraf 2020-2021.
About Solvej Balle
Solvej Balle was born in 1962 and made her debut in 1986 with “Lyrefugl” (‘Lyre Bird’, not translated into English), and she went on to write one of the 1990s’ most acclaimed works of Danish literature, “Ifølge loven” (1993) (‘According to the Law: Four Accounts of Mankind’, HarperCollins 1996, English translation by Barbara Haveland). Since then, however, there have been only a few publications: a book on art theory, “Det umuliges kunst” (‘The Art of the Impossible’, not translated into English) in 2005, a political memoir “Frydendal og andre gidsler” (‘Frydendal and other hostages’, not translated into English) in 2008, and two books of short prose “Hvis” (‘If’, not translated into English) and “Så” (‘Then’, not translated into English), published simultaneously in 2013. “Om udregning af rumfang” is Solvej Balle’s big comeback.
About the Nordic Council prizes
The Nordic Council awards five prizes each year – for literature, film, music, the environment, and children’s and young people’s literature. The winners each receive DKK 300 000 along with the Nordlys statuette, which is awarded at an awards ceremony in connection with the annual Session of the Nordic Council.