About the author
Kirsten Thorup made her debut in 1967 with the poetry collection Indeni – Udenfor (in English, “Inside – Outside”) and celebrates fifty years as an author this year. Although Thorup has written in all genres, she is primarily the author of a series of deep, admirably relevant and socially engaging novels, including Lille Jonna (in English, “Little Jonna”) (1977), Himmel og helvede (in English, “Heaven and hell”) (1982), Den yderste grænse (in English, “Last Frontier”) (1987), and Bonsai (2000), all of which have left a lasting impression on modern Danish literature. These novels have offered their many readers a mirror in which we – as Shakespeare’s Hamlet says – have been able to see the design of our own time, and the forces that have created that design. The novels portray the complicated lives of individuals while reflecting the equally complicated social relationships of mankind – relationships with both our nearest and dearest and with society, which according to Thorup always gets what rightfully belongs to it. Often the novels give a voice to those who would otherwise not be heard – the frail, the marginalised, the “wrong”.
About the winning piece
Erindring om kærligheden (“Memories of Love”, not translated into English) is a very dark and wise novel. It trawls great depths – the depths we all share – reaching parts only literature ever really reaches. Tara, the protagonist, is about to make her breakthrough playing Hamlet in an experimental staging of the play, but turns it down in order to enter into an arranged marriage with an asylum seeker. Afterwards Tara’s life goes into an uncontrolled tailspin. She, like Hamlet, is caught up in a sense of reluctance with regard to her own life. To compensate, she constantly reaches out to the most vulnerable in society, despite being in some ways just as vulnerable and helpless as those she helps. Somewhat unexpectedly, Tara falls pregnant and gives birth to her daughter Siri – a turn of events with which she finds it difficult to cope. The novel then follows their relationship over a number of the years. The ensuing heart-rending and relentless tale probes into questions of rights and duties, private life and politics – and not least the strength and price of love – all addressed with every greater subtlety. It takes us to the final frontier – and beyond. Tara ends up on the streets of today’s Copenhagen. But that’s not where it ends. Meanwhile, Siri has become a politically engaged performance artist. Erindring om kærligheden portrays a major reconciliation in the form of a mother/daughter performance, in which the feminist perspective dynamically alleviates the tense relationship. Defining Erindring om kærligheden as a mother/daughter novel is both right and wrong. It is right in that Tara’s and Siri’s relationship is the sort of love without which there is nothing, but wrong in that from its broad and detailed contemporary perspective the novel addresses all the relationships that condition us, and in particular possibly those relationships that we shy away from entering into – for instance, with the Romanian who stands begging in front of the supermarket every day.
Erindring om kærligheden
Published by: Gyldendal publishing company
Publication year: 2016
This is what the Adjudicating Committee had to say
The Adjudication Committee wrote: The winner of the Nordic Council Literature Prize 2017 is the author of numerous excellent and highly relevant novels that reflect a deep social commitment. In her novel Erindring om kærligheden (“Memories of Love”, not translated into English) Kirsten Thorup paints a portrait of Tara, a woman who constantly reaches out to the vulnerable in society. Somewhat unexpectedly, Tara falls pregnant and gives birth to her daughter Siri – a turn of events with which she finds it difficult to cope. The ensuing heart-rending and relentless tale probes into questions of rights and duties, private life and politics – and not least the strength and price of love – all addressed with every greater subtlety. Memories of Love is a very dark and wise novel. It trawls great depths – the depths we all share – reaching parts only literature ever really reaches.