Wild Swims

The Scandinavian master of the short story returns with a collection resplendent with longing. On these taut pages, people meet without actually connecting, travelers set off but never seem to find home. We meet them along the fjords of Norway, in the bustle of Los Angeles, and among the lights of Copenhagen. Outsiders yearn to be on the inside, insiders are desperate to be free of constraints. A writer befriends an ex-lover’s mother. A young woman struggles to escape from the provincial bully. An elderly man offers his body to aging women. But in the end, “you can’t cover up what can’t be changed.”

Dorthe Nors shines a light into forgotten corners and brings darkness where you least expect it. The sharp-edged sentence is her signum and here it thrives, entire realities crashing down with the turn of a sub-clause. The characteristic Nors sense of humor is ever-present, catching us when the darkness threatens to come too close. Love, violence, friendship, and loneliness are explored in these pages that throb with life.

Dazzling with the precision and nuance that has made Dorthe Nors a critical darling around the world, Wild Swims is a story collection that throws doors open wide to new worlds.

Wild Swims was published by Gyldendal on August 23, 2018 to great critical praise.

“While reading Dorthe Nors’s Map of Canada I wanted to laugh, to cry, and to look away from the pages in awkward embarrassment on behalf of the protagonists. And perhaps on behalf of myself. Because there is something oddly identifiable about Nors’s many characters in the stories; they are all a bit embarrassing in their self-righteousness and egoism, and all a bit amusing in their most vulnerable moments. […] Nors is a completely marvelously honest, observant, and brave author. […] This is a fantastic read and among the finest ones that has graced my bedside table in a very long time.”
Femina, 6/6 (DK)

“There are bottomless lakes in these brilliantly uneasy stories, and cold, ‘unknowable’ landscapes, creaking with snow and ice, as in her spare, elegant prose Nors eavesdrops on the inner lives and complicated emotions of her yearning characters.”
The Daily mail (UK)

“It’s clear from this collection why Nors was the first Danish writer to have a short story published in The New Yorker. She writes about quiet middle-class people (doctors, writers, academics) in an original, slightly out-of-kilter way, typically constrained and downbeat. […] These are stories not so much about relationships as people trying to cope with each other and, more often than not, failing.”
THE SUNDAY TIMES (UK)

“Men and women, each with their own outlook on life, each in one way or another exposed, vulnerable and/or alienated. In Map of Canada life is not simple, and if there is humor it’s of the subdued kind. […] Observing the world from a position where you can be a part of something, yet not entirely on the inside. Too feel that you belong and don’t belong at the same time. To have your expectations disappoint you. To have weird thoughts when there’s nothing else there to distract you. It’s that kind of wounded humanity that occupy Dorthe Nors in Map of Canada […] Dorthe Nors can make it hurt incredibly in just a few lines.”
Berlingske, 5/6 (DK)

“Masterful short stories. […] A breathtaking portrayal of a woman who has lost all illusions and does whatever she can to steal them from others in the name of pure reason. […] The stories are characterized by opposites: rational thinking vs. nature romanticism. They often jump in time and space and from thoughts concerning themselves to thoughts of others. It spins and spins. And Dorthe Nors makes us ponder if this is what we actually are? More or less unruly thoughts? Whatever the message, nothing is anything without everything else. No man is an island. No matter how insignificant you may seem to others. Dorthe Nors is great, antiheroistic literature for our time. Read her.”
Elle, 5/6 (DK)

“It’s difficult to find a more willful and stylistically skilled writer than the Dane Dorthe Nors. […] In [Wild Swims] the stories are extremely short, and much quirkier. More advanced, in a sense; to absorb this emotional concentrate of undecided nervousness is demanding. The many details of listless everyday life that Dorthe Nors is such an expert at portraying feel ominous in every nook. The reader finds herself in the middle of a 129 page-long psychological attack, under fire from fourteen miniature stories.”
Dagens Nyheter (SE)

“Like always with Dorthe Nors, her stories hold entire lives and numerous events. But they are implicit. Through some cleverly portrayed yet crucial detail, Dorthe Nors kickstarts the reader’s ability to interpret and expand each story into the breadth of an entire novel. […] Wild Swims is an atlas over dark, spiritual landscapes, where love has often disappeared off somewhere else. It portrays different ways of feeling alone and abandoned, and how difficult it can be to reach other people – even before we were ordered to keep a two meter distance from one another.”
SVENSKA DAGBLADET (Se)

“Masterful Nors short stories. […] Dorthe Nors continues to deliver top-tier literature. […] The Herning author’s language is magnificent. I tried to write down beautiful and subtle sentences and I quickly gathered the most lovely boquet. Like pearls on a string. […] Dorthe Nors has become a literary star, and Map of Canada adds further to her reputation.”
Herning Folkeblad, 5/6 (DK)

“Incisive short stories about the distances between people. […] Dorthe Nors’s precise prose moves effortlessly from the smallest perceptible details to the alarming destruction of memory.”
Politiken, 5/6 (DK)

“Dorthe Nors is a master in the art of suggestion.”
Børsen, 5/6 (DK)

“Dorthe Nors has a great eye for the peculiarities of ordinary people, the thoughts and desires we don’t share with others.”
Weekendavisen (DK)

“Nors lingers on characters who are in motion in one way or other; on their way out of – or deeper into – situations and dysfunctional relationships. It’s about being caught, breaking free, making a journey, or looking back at life and the memories you carry. […] The characters’ weaknesses and, at times, cruelty, are portrayed with great precision. Many times the reader is left with a vague sense of discomfort. […] [Nors] is a master of the art of insinuation. […] Her brief portrayals are playfully effortless, ragingly strong, and crystal clear, and the small suggestions are dense and vivid. If you haven’t been keeping an eye on this authorship before, now is certainly the time.”
värmlands folkblad (se)

“The fourteen stories that make up Wild Swims are all shorter than ten pages – dense, hard as diamonds. […] It’s about power, about advantages and disadvantages, and how they become disrupted. [Nors] sympathizes with the powerless and disadvantaged. That’s why I think her short stories may be comforting to anyone who’s hurting. Here, secret as well as shameful pain is seen and acknowledged. At the same time, the stories contain a frighteningly cold undercurrent. […] In Dorthe Nors’ sense of detail there’s a harsh timing that often makes me smile, even when it’s not funny.”
sydsvenskan (se)

“Nors constantly picks up on and highlights the crucial details; she is a writer who sees and through her eyes the stories and not least the reader’s imagination come alive.”
VI LÄSER (se)

“Nors brilliantly succeeds in precision so her stories fill just a few pages.”
Heilbronner Stimme (DE)

“Dorthe Nors’s short, concise stories makes a lot of noise, and leave a lot open for interpretation. […] Every sentence in Nors’s quiet stories is packed with a humorous undertone. The 50 year-old author, who lives on the Danish west coast, really masters the art of the short story.”
kulturtipp (DE)

Dorthe Nors is one of the most original voices of contemporary Danish letters. She has written two lauded short story collections, Karate Chop and Wild Swims, as well as one novella and five novels, including the most recent: Mirror, Shoulder, Signal (2016), which was a finalist for the Man Booker International Prize 2017.

Learn more about Dorthe Nors