1971 Thorkild Hansen, Denmark: Slavernes øer

1971 Thorkild Hansen, Danmark: Slavernes øer

About the author

Thorkild Hansen was a person, who in his life and work always searched for the extraordinary. His stories depict people who are great and original in the Nietzschean way, and if they are also misunderstood, it only adds to the attraction. The novel Processen mot Hamsun, which was later filmed, is an example of this. Thorkild Hansen grew up in Copenhagen, became a critic at the newspaper Information, and later participated in several archaeological expeditions to, for instance, Kuwait, Hudson Bay and Nubia. He often visited France, in many respects his spiritual home.

About the winning piece

Islands of Slaves is the last novel of a trilogy – the previous books were Coast of Slaves and Ships of Slaves – centred on Denmark’s slave trade. The protagonist, Peter von Scholten, one of many tragic heroes in Thorkild Hansen’s work, finds himself in conflict with the standards of his time; he is impeached for abolishing slavery on the Virgin Islands. Thorkild Hansen represents the Nordic vanguard of documentary novels, but, despite the documentary theme, his style shows an extremely free approach to facts. “This is the ultimate truth about me: I lie,” he says in a paradoxical aphorism.

Slavernes øer (Islands of Slaves)

Published by: Gyldendal publishing company 

Publication year: 1987

This is what the Adjudicating Committee had to say

After a vote the committee decided to award the Nordic Council Literature Prize 1971 to Thorkild Hansen for his triology "Coast of Slaves”, “Ships of Slaves”, “Islands of Slaves”, in which, with historical expertise and artistic power, he has brought to life an example of rich countries’ exploitation of poor countries.