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Dorthe Nors (1970) is one of the most distinguished contemporary Danish writers. She was born in Herning, Denmark and currently lives in Jutland. Nors holds a degree in literature and art history from the University of Aarhus. In addition to her two celebrated short story collections, Karate Chop (Kantslag, 2008) and Wild Swims (Kort over Canada, 2018), she has published one novella and five novels, including the most recent: Mirror, Shoulder, Signal (Spejl, skulder, blink, 2016).

Nors’s short stories have appeared in countless publications, including Harper’s Magazine, Boston Review, AGNI, and Guernica. She was the first Danish writer to ever have a story published in The New Yorker.

In 2011, she was awarded the Danish Arts Agency’s Three Year Grant for “her unusual and extraordinary talent.” In 2014, her story collection Karate Chop won the prestigious P.O. Enquist Literary Prize.

The novel Mirror, Shoulder, Signal was published to rave reviews in 2016 and was a finalist for the International Booker Prize 2017. It was followed by the short story collection Wild Swims in 2018.

Nors’s first collection of essays, North Sea, was published in Denmark by Gads Forlag in May 2021 and became a runaway bestseller.

Dorthe Nors’s singular writing has been translated into over twenty languages.

Dorthe Nors (c) Petra Kleis 2018 - 1

Reviews

North Sea is a stunning portrayal of the connection between landscape, human beings, and memory on the Danish west Coast. […] In this book, the west coast becomes a line that connects people across time and borders. Dorthe Nors sees those who live there as people who are closer to the sea than to the rest of the country. She writes that they in fact more live on the east coast of the North Sea than the west coast of Denmark, and this is one of the truest things I have ever read about my home area. […] With its size, this beautiful essay collection signals that it can hold both exquisite texts and vast photos. It’s neither too large for the words or too small for the photos. […] She writes with knowledge and understanding that can only come from having been born there. At the same time with a distance that comes from years in exile. […] Just like [18th century poet and author Steen Steensen] Blicher it becomes clear that Dorthe Nors’ prose has the potential of eternity. […] It is truly overwhelming how Dorthe Nors is able to incorporate modern references without harming the timeless prose. Her rhythm, her stillness, her humility, her ability to finish calm sentences as if they were a song. […] This is a masterpiece.”
Dagbladet Information (DK)

“While reading Dorthe Nors’s Wild Swims 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)

“In Wild Swims, Nors’s latest collection of short fiction, the elephant in the chair is the theme of human connection — its difficulties, its importance and its involvement with our recurrent intimations of memory, loss and love. […] At their best [the stories] are sharp, affecting, splendidly atmospheric, sometimes funny (a wedding photo shows ‘she in white, he in something resembling an iron lung’). They are also brilliantly written. Nors’s conjunction of tenuously related clauses (‘Her heart, it’s got a flutter, or something in there is pressing, and on one of her first evenings she met up with a colleague’) elegantly captures the strange workings of associative cognition, while her characters’ ostensibly workaday thoughts are transformed into glistening gems of fecundity. […] Wild Swims is an enchanting work whose brief, almost fugitive stories achieve multitudes in a gesture. Maximalism does not require copiousness. Just look at the elephant in its chair.”
Financial Times (UK)

“None of the characters in these 14 compact, bracing stories are fully satisfied with where they find themselves […] This kind of acute situational irony — the distance between thought and reality — animates all of Nors’s stories […] These stories are a dark reflection of all of us, blinkered by our hang-ups and our insistent desires.”
New York Times Book Review (US)

“The 14 stories in the book are mesmerizing, addictive. Each one is just a few pages, written in an oblique, poetic style that arrives at its conclusion through indirection. [Nors] has an uncanny ability to capture the way the human mind works, with disparate memories and ideas running simultaneously along different tracks.”
Associated Press (US)

“Nors is an innovator, and other innovators haunt her pages. Yet despite the deeply internal conflicts of these stories, the author successfully manages to bring the reader into the interior experience of her characters, and it is often uncomfortable, not easy to bear. […] These are daring, untraditional stories.”
Fiction Writers Review (US)

“Nors’s deft touch gives rise to her unusual way of structuring her stories; in the hands of a less refined prose writer, it would all seem a mishmash. […] Nors isn’t interested in mere euphony, but in using language to capture ephemeral moments of being. Her tone always comes through in translation […] her work is engaging on multiple levels.”
Slant Magazine (US)

“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)

“Cool, razor-sharp stories by a brilliant Danish writer. […] Irony and narrative sleights of hand (like the precisely planted out-of-place word, an obsessive thought that gets whittled down to its shameful source, the swerve of an unexpected final line) shape-shift these beautiful distilled stories. You think you know what you’re reading until suddenly you don’t. […] Nors, whose novel Mirror, Shoulder, Signal was a finalist for the 2017 Man Booker International Prize, drills down into the idea that people can’t really understand themselves, let alone others. A brainy collection perfectly constructed to put you on edge.”
Kirkus, Starred Review (US)

“Danish writer Nors’s sensuous experimental collection (after Mirror, Shoulder, Signal) offers an ethereal tour through ordinary places made strange and eerie. […] Nors provides no clear arcs or answers, leaving the reader to contemplate ideas of perception versus objective reality as sentences cut like switchbacks on trails to mysterious destinations. […] Throughout, remarkable characters and wonderful lines emerge from the artful prose. This is worth downing in one sitting”
Publishers Weekly (US)

“Men and women, each with their own outlook on life, each in one way or another exposed, vulnerable and/or alienated. In Wild Swims 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 Wild Swims […] Dorthe Nors can make it hurt incredibly in just a few lines.”
Berlingske, 5/6 (DK)

“These truly are short stories. No tale exceeds seven pages. Some amount to mere sketches, snapshots or portraits. Many are fuelled by strange thoughts and idiosyncratic deeds. A few are maddeningly evasive and raise more questions than answers. And yet all are masterclasses in concision and most get straight to the nub of the matter, able to perfectly convey a mood, encapsulate an emotion or dramatise a predicament. […] We also admire Nors’ prose, which is rich with quirky formulations and novel comparisons (“Baileys tastes of German rest stops and the corner of some party where nothing’s happening”). Sharp, inventive, and consistently captivating, Nors’ tales are miniature wonders. Prepare to see the world in a refreshing new light.”
The Herald Scotland (UK)

“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 Wild Swims 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)

“There’s a bracing freshness and chill to the writing, and the unforced ease of a song. […] Nors’s fiction begins at the moment of unmooring — in all its pain and possibility, as these women imagine themselves into being. It’s the foundation, too, of a harsh wit that recalls early Lorrie Moore. […] If her subject is unwavering, her style remains restless, less out of a desire to be ‘experimental’ than out of playfulness and a genuine yearning, one feels, for contact and connection.”
The New York Times (US)

Mirror, Shoulder, Signal is a brilliant novel about finding your own way in life, even if others would like to steer you. […] What you also must admire with this small and perfectly constructed novel is Dorthe Nors’ way of putting Sonja into a context that so clearly reflects her, yet at the same time does in a way that does not seem overbearing. […] Good literature is often about the unremarkable, the ordinary, and Dorthe Nors’s grasp of the story is masterful. […] Mirror, Shoulder, Signal emphasizes the author’s calibre. New readers of Nors can safely begin here. Perhaps they’ll then turn to the rest of her work. They won’t regret it.”
Berlingske, Six Stars (DK)

“In flowing and absorbing prose, Nors illustrates how this anxious, alienated woman experiences setbacks and triumphs, proportionate to her carefully enclosed life, and how it might be possible for anyone to overcome immense loneliness and make a connection.”
The New Yorker (US)

“Exquisite. […] Nors gives the invisible woman the dignity of her artful gaze […] This triumphant novel sounds the depths of women’s unseen strength in a register that reconciles enlightened feminism with working-class rage.”
New York Times Book Review (US)

“Dorthe Nors’s novel is a magnificent exploration of anxiety. Mirror, Shoulder, Signal introduces a writer who is both funny and brave. […] Nors, in contrast, turns her gridlocked human traffic into a transport of delight.”
The Economist (UK)

“Nors is at her most trenchant and emphatic when her protagonist, riddled with superstition and uncertainty, is inwardly soliloquising. […] When Sonja’s narrative breaks free of the corner she has boxed herself into, the prose swoops and soars like her yearned-for whooper swans. It’s at these moments that Nors reinvention of experimental fiction is so marvellous: the remainder of her backlist should not disappoint.”
The Guardian (UK)

Mirror, Shoulder, Signal has just been published in Britain and will raise Nors’ profile further. […] Nors writing has witty and insightful depth. […] Nors writes important modern women’s fiction. It is an act of 21st century recovery and assertion: she gives back agency and centrality to older women, sidelined in all societies, even Scandinavian ones, where women are valued less than men, and childless, single women least of all.”
Financial Times (UK)

“In this tautly observed novel, Nors reveals a middle-age woman on the verge of disappearance and discovery. […] Nors is an exquisitely precise writer, and in rendering her heroine’s small disruptions and, yes, victories, she is writing for, and of, every one of us.”
Kirkus Reviews, Starred Review (US)

“The experience in reading about Sonja’s heroic struggle to get out of a crummy rut is very moving. Perhaps because Nors’ watchful eye, as well as often seeing the humour in regular situations, creates characters so believable in their small, everyday battles that we can’t help but care. Even more important, though, is the tenderness of her writing; the feeling she is giving much of herself away, wincing with Sonja’s everyday slight, warming with every moment of unexpected affection. It’s from that generous spirit of self-sacrifice that this novel gets its heart.”
The Big Issue (UK)

“Only a writer as agile and profound as Nors would dare to proceed from such a heavy-handed (and humdrum) premise. The novel’s power builds as Sonja’s inner world unfolds. […] ‘As women,’ she says of herself and her mother in a rare moment of dialogue, ‘we’re not completely fine-tuned.’ As a novelist, Nors comes remarkably close.”
The Atlantic (US)

“An insightful and compassionate novel.”
The Herald (UK)

“Nors skillfully enacts the way that most of us think: choppily and with frequent interruptions. […] From the reflective to the comic to the portentous in a matter of seconds, Sonja’s thoughts contain worlds. […] It’s Nors’s willingness to trade in the gently comedic, while still taking Sonja’s larger questing seriously, that makes Mirror, Shoulder, Signal such a complicated, and ultimately successful, balancing act.”
Book Forum (US)

“This truly is excellent and original. […] What’s so special about Dorthe Nors, as with most skilled writers, is her style. […] Dorthe Nors’ writing is dexterous and playful, she loads and reloads with darkness and humor, and she never settles. It seems simple, as though she’s writing about what’s right before her, but then there’s that Danish nerve – the one that’s so difficult to put your finger on and that is rarely as pleasant as it seems.”
Dagens Nyheter (SE)

“With this quietly moving story, Nors seems on the fast track to becoming a global writer.”
Star Tribune (US)

“Dorthe Nors has written the little, great Danish novel. […] Her new novel is quite simply excellent. […] Dorthe Nors tells a big story through a small story. […] You feel the urge to quote and quote and quote, but a review must also have an end.”
Kristeligt Dagblad, Six Stars (DK)

“Here’s Nors’ fifth novel, Mirror, Shoulder, Signal, and let me tell you right away: Nors is here to stay. […] Dorthe Nors reminds me of why I read books: to meet people like Sonja. With quiet, sharp humor and immense tenderness, Nors is able portray whole characters for her readers. Both the quirky personalities and the lively language give a unique authenticity and intense presence to the novel. […] Dorthe Nors’ new novel isn’t just good – it is also important.”
Nordjyske Stiftstiden, Six Stars (DK)

“Astute and contemplative […] Not a lot happens in this thoughtful novel, but not a lot has to. Nors conjures a gently fraught reality in prose that evokes a life paused halfway between nostalgia for the past and hope for the future.”
Publishers Weekly (US)

“This novel reads like a sort of Danish Woody Allen; existential, domestic, gently humorous. […] On the one hand, this poetic, thoughtful book is an affectionate send-up of the modern Nordic mindset. But in a deeper way it’s a love letter to a vanished land, that of childhood.”
The Daily Mail (UK)

“The novel Mirror, Shoulder, Signal is nothing short of brilliant. […] In just a few pages, it is clear that Dorthe Nors has found her style and her voice. […] In a single rich phrase, she can say what others needs half a page for. There’s not a single superflous word in the barely 200 pages. […] You know when you read a book and you just want to read a sentence out loud to the husband, the wife, the partner or the dog, because it’s such good writing? That’s how it is constantly with Mirror, Shoulder, Signal. There are hundreds of them […] The biggest problem with Mirror, Shoulder, Signal comes when you’ve finished the last page. Because you’re not done with Sonja and her wresteling with her driving instructor, her masseuse, and disloyal friends. So now I just want to sit in a corner and wait for ‘Sonja Buys a Summer Cottage’ to come out – followed by ‘Sonja Goes to New York’. Sonja is a gold mine, and I think there will be a demand for more of Sonja. Dorthe Nors had her breakthrough abroad long ago – Mirror, Shoulder, Signal ought to guarantee the author a well-deserved breaktrough in Denmark.”
Herning Folkeblad, Six Stars (DK)

“An insightful and compassionate novel.”
The Herald (UK)

“Dorthe Nors fully lives up to the high expectations with a novel that encapsulates time. […] Dorthe Nors portrays Sonja’s world in a loving and humorous way; not least the male reader might find themselves wiser for it.”
Jyllandsposten, Five Stars (DK)

Mirror, Shoulder, Signal is the latest novel by the Danish writer Dorthe Nors, who possesses a rare gift. She treats heavy, dark matters with a very light touch.”
NPR Fresh Air (US)

Mirror, Shoulder, Signal is the first book by Dorthe Nors that I’ve read. Now I want to read everything she’s written. It’s such a joy being in the safe hands of an author who can write, who’s understated and humorous without stealing past all that is painful. […]  I cannot get enough of it, especially when so well written as by Dorthe Nors.”
Weekendavisen (DK)

“You can’t be in a rush when reading Nors. It’s a slender novel bursting with substance and sharp turns. What’s beautiful about it is that you haven’t got a clue of where you’re going, and yet you’re wholly enjoying the ride.”
Vi Läser (SE)

“An insightful and compassionate novel.”
The Herald (UK)

“It’s awkward, humorous, deeply psychological, often with recollections from Sonja’s childhood, and original in the same way. Moreover, it’s just as bristling with seemingly simple sentences that capture so much of life. […] Mirror, Shoulder, Signal is a striking and – sometimes boundlessly – sad story.”
Svenska Dagbladet (SE)

“This novel about Sonja that Dorthe Nors has written is an altogether brilliantly melancholy and humorous portrayal of a person longing to let go, and to love. […] I have never read a novel like this before. It’s as though, while portraying this ’not so finely tuned woman’ so incredibly well, it also takes a shot at the publishing industry of today, that often tricks you into believing a novel either has to be suspense or an autobiography or, for audiobooks, to be carried by clever dramaturgy and a thrilling story. Sonja is not thrilling. She is a gray mouse. She has a story that I’ve seldom heard. […] Mirror, Shoulder, Signal is an exquisite little novel, that feels bigger than most and that makes my heart beat. Ninni Holmqvist has translated it in a perfect tone. Thank you for this reading experience!”
Upsala Nya Tidning (SE)

“Ninni Holmqvist has exquisitely translated Dorthe Nors’ funny and beautiful novel about alienation and finding a home within yourself. It’s so easy to both recognize yourself and to feel for Sonja’s struggle that I, both during and after reading, tear up from giggling as well as from the solemn sensation of how peculiar life actually is. Or how singular this novel is and how rich I feel from having read it.”
Borås Tidning (SE)

“Dorthe Nors writes sparsely yet at the same time poignantly and hilariously, finds the words that captures the details, the situations, the relationships sometimes with a dizzying twist, sometimes with a social-realistic accuracy of aim. She writes of a life that has turned askew, not completely to blazes, not straight into the ditch, not at all, but askew. […] There’s an abysmal sorrow in Sonja. A clawing yearning after a future that has the appearance of a life. Once she had her fortune told but she can’t remember what the fortune-teller foresaw for her. Sonja searches for that promise of – something. And Dorthe Nors puts her finger precisely on that point zero where the pain of humanity is accumulated. That place no words can reach.”
Kulturnytt, Sveriges Radio (SE)

Mirror, Shoulder, Signal is a dark novel written in a super cool tone.”
De Volkskrant, 5 Stars (NL)

“Through her original style, Nors conveys how overwhelming loneliness can be. A well deserved finalist for the Man Booker International Prize.”
Knack Focus, 4 Stars (NL)

“Dorthe Nors’s style is dryly comical, subtle and sharp in the insights she gives into a lonely life in the big city.”
De Groene Amsterdammer (NL)

“Danish Dorthe Nors proves with her short novel Mirror, Shoulder, Signal that she possesses a unique voice: dryly comical but not funny, delicate but not sad.”
VRPO GIDS (NL)

“The author beautifully portrays Sonja’s chaotic reflections. It’s impossible not to think of Bridget Jones’ Diary. Here too, the inner world of a slightly awkward woman is conveyed in a funny and sharp way. Nors ads a rapid pace and a lot of absurdity.”
Leesclub Van Alles (NL)

Mirror, Shoulder, Signal unfolds – almost reluctantly – into a tragic swan song over an empty life, an unusually tender and immersive portrayal that increasingly twists into something raw, strange and scornful. With incredible skill, Dorthe Nors turns the novel into a clear-eyed and intimate portrayal of a sharp cry of desperation.”
Gefle Dagblad (SE)

“The novel opens in quite a humorous way and initially you expect it to be a fun story about breaking free. But far from it. Mirror, Shoulder, Signal portrays a rarely seen candour about loneliness. […] Mirror, Shoulder, Signal is a relentless novel, yet it’s delightfully free from sentimentality. Dorthe Nors succeeds in writing a tender tale about a lonely woman at a point in her life when she’s no longer young, but not yet old. […] Nors portrays Sonja with a subdued style and literary perfection that makes reading it a subtle pleasure. Her language is clear and unyielding, yet so emphatic that the reader immediately gets caught up in Sonja’s emotional world.”
Literatur Zeitschrift (DE)

“Dorthe Nors bravely steers the reader towards the great theme of our time: being single and alone. Again and again, Nors shows us that life in modern Denmark – where there’s neither faith nor family to cling to – is empty. […] Sonja and many other people in Copenhagen, and on this earth, have a need to know that there is someone out there if you need them. The novel revolves around the ‘back of the heart’: the place on the back where wings would grow on an angel. Back there sits the desire to meet a friend with a common past or geography, who has time to catch you if you fall. It’s precise and gripping and thought-provoking to bring up in a small, cheeky novel, and it makes for great literature. For 160 Danish kroner you can’t even get a big bouquet of flowers, so buy this novel as a hostess gift for the rest of 2016.”
Københavneravisen (DK)

“The writers that radiate the kind of talent that Dorthe Nors does are few and far between. Her latest novel Mirror, Shoulder, Signal is a small masterpiece. A story from everyday Denmark. A story about a person we all know. About a person we’ve all met. But we haven’t been aware of it. Because most people are much more than what they immediately reveal. So is Sonja, the main character in Nors’ novel. […] It’s rare in modern Danish literature to see such an authentic, deeply gripping portrayal of a person like the one Nors delivers here, and you can’t read this book without contemplating your own actions and feel your bad conscience come knocking. How many Sonjas have you overlooked on a busy day? How many lonely people would’ve benefitted from a remark, a smile, a tiny bit of interest? This world is full of silent characters moving through life. With her eminent writing, Dorthe Nors has made one of these silent characters blatantly relevant. […] Dorthe Nors now moves to the frontline of young Danish authors.”
Folkebladet, Five Stars (DK)

“As always with Dorthe Nors’ writing, the craftsmanshift is resoundingly good. There’s a lot of understated Jutland humor, and many funny formulations that make the depth of the story more prominent. One single offbeat wording says so much more than many passages of profound words. As a reader, I sense the focus in both the story and in every single phrase. It’s something only a skilled craftsman can do.”
Bokrummet, Five Stars (DK)

“Nors is simply brilliant in her milieu descriptions. Such a great and heartfelt voice. For Sonja is a human being, who shakes and longs. And when kinswoman Martha holds her neck steadily with liberating midwife hands, Sonja is seized by the back of her heart. So is the reader.”
Ekstra Bladet, Five Stars (DK)

“A small, big novel full of poetry and charm.”
Style (DE)

“A book so small and inconspicuous it would be easy to disregard it, much like its protagonist. But that would be a mistake, since Sonja’s tale is humorous, moving, and full of stylistic beauty. If you ever want to read something that stands out from the noisy crowd: Mirror, Shoulder, Signal by Dorthe Nors is a small treasure.”
Herzpotential, 5/5 (DE)

“With this quietly moving story, Nors seems on the fast track to becoming a global writer.”
Star Tribune (US)

“Nors skillfully enacts the way that most of us think: choppily and with frequent interruptions. […] From the reflective to the comic to the portentous in a matter of seconds, Sonja’s thoughts contain worlds. […] It’s Nors’s willingness to trade in the gently comedic, while still taking Sonja’s larger questing seriously, that makes Mirror, Shoulder, Signal such a complicated, and ultimately successful, balancing act.”
Bookforum (US)

“Astute and contemplative […] Not a lot happens in this thoughtful novel, but not a lot has to. Nors conjures a gently fraught reality in prose that evokes a life paused halfway between nostalgia for the past and hope for the future.”
Publishers Weekly (US)

“Nors presents a range of voices and offbeat images in these 15 unsettling and poetic stories. Some pieces, like one about a four-pound tomato, are oddly beautiful; others are brilliantly disturbing.”
The New York Times (US)

“A major new voice in European literature.”
Booktrust (UK)

“In this collection of stories, Danish fiction comes off a little like Danish furniture, spare and sublime. Author Dorthe Nors knows how to capture the smallest moments and sculpt them into the unforgettable.”
Oprah (US)

“However stingy reviewers are with these kinds of words, it now has it that ‘masterpiece’ needs to be dusted off. […] Karate Chop is simply a magnificent book. Get ready to be amazed.”
Dagbladenes Bureau (DK)

“These stories are swift and unexpected and bruising. Nors’ insight into the strange nuances of human interactions, especially those rooted in violence or sorrow, is keen to the point of vivisection. In the span of two pages, she is able to both build and unmake a character, achieving the same complexity that other writers require entire novels to establish. What’s more, her protagonists are familiar and unsettling, with characteristics that echo in our psyches and ask us to call into question all we assume about ourselves and others. […] Lovers of the art of literary fiction, students of psychology, and everyone looking for a quick, thought-provoking read should all indulge themselves in the subversive delight of this short story collection.”
Booklist (US)

“The short-short stories in Danish sensation Nors’s slim, potent collection, Karate Chop […] Evoke the weirdness and wonder of relating in the digital age.”
Vogue (US)

“These very short works […] are as sharp-edged, destructive, and intentionally made as the title suggests. Nowhere here is a word out of place. Imagine Grace Paley with more than a little of Mary Gaitskill’s keen eye for the despair and violence of sex, mixed with an otherness that’s unsettlingly odd and vivid. The sentences are brightly visual and attuned to the weird details of each character’s inner world. […] Nors’s writing doesn’t just observe the details of life—online searches, laundry, fantasies, conversations with semi-strangers, compulsions—it offers a marvelous, truthful take on how these details illustrate our souls.”
Publishers Weekly, Starred Review (US)

“Horror and comedy both require timing, and Dorthe Nors has it.”
Chicago Tribune (US)

“Arresting. […] These amuse-bouches are a fine introduction to [Nors’s] work.”
Kirkus Reviews (US)

“Nors illuminates an ominous world of disconnected people trying to make sense of their dislocation. […] Nors’ affectless, matter-of-fact storytelling […] is the perfect complement to the low-wattage desperation and inertia her characters feel […]Karate Chop is just like that: It loves you and wants to teach you, but it also wants to harm you.”
Los Angeles Times (US)

“Dorthe Nors knows how to do it. She can set a sentence loose with all kinds of intimations, toss out a remark randomly and, in a split second, light up the whole scene. […] All in all, Karate Chop is a clear-eyed collection about the little edge we find ourselves standing at every day. The borderland. Where we discover something we have never seen before. Because the light is falling in a certain way. Because the mood changes. Or because we discover that there are people and places that the light never reaches.”
Weekendavisen (DK)

“The intricately crafted stories in Karate Chop, from popular Danish writer Dorthe Nors, focus on ordinary occurrences […] and then twist them into brilliantly slanted cautionary tales about desire, romance, deception, and dread.”
Elle (US)

Karate Chop is a collection of brittle, blackly comic and quietly explosive stories that provide snapshots of modern Danish life and home in at daring angles to highlight the quirks, agonies and vulnerabilities of the human condition.”
Star Tribune (US)

“In this slim collection of stories, the Danish Nors examines everyday issues with intensity and force.”
Marie Claire (US)

“Dorthe Nors is a writer of moments—quiet, raw portraits of existential mediation, at times dyspeptic, but never unsympathetic.”
Paris Review Daily (US)

“Exceptional. […] Nors is adroit at offering powerful summation at the precise moment with a single cutting phrase or an unexpected observation. […] These brief realistic stories provide universal insight into an everyday, modern existence.”
The Rumpus (US)

“In the overwhelming stories by Danish writer Dorthe Nors, humanity can suddenly end in horrible violence. […] Both sides of this reverse edition are piercing.”
De Volkskrant, Five Stars (NL)

“Compelling, precise, and funny.”
Trouw (NL)

“Dorthe Nors is one of the new authors, who has eternity on her side.”
Weekendavisen (DK)

“Danish author Dorthe Nors’ short stories have an exactness, sublimity, and psychological sensitivity that you don’t see every day. Not a word too much, nothing is missing and after having read a while you eagerly await each ending. […] Singular, quiet, yet precisely in the transition to the pathetic or simply the magnificent. It’s a scandal that she hasn’t been translated into Swedish until now.”
Norrländska Socialdemokraten (SE)

“These stories reveal a keen eye that is sensitive to the tiniest of details. The narrator has a clear, distanced, almost reporter-like voice, making the most trivial stories intense and controversial.”
Litera (HU)

Karate Chop is a highlight; ingenious, intelligent, yet language-wise easy enough to suit many kinds of readers.”
Aftonbladet (SE)

“The short stories can in some ways be compared to Hjalmar Söderberg’s Historietter, perhaps the most successful work in Swedish, short story-wise. That is, short stories with a melancholic keynote that still are insanely funny. Nors has the ability to create situations that are full of humanity despite rather absurd premises. […] And she is truly skilled at portraying people, giving them life, through the smallest of means. […] Her short historiettes also resemble punk singles: one minute and fifty-eight second detonations with the capacity to grab hold and create a euphoric rebellion in the reader.”
Jönköpingsposten (SE)

Karate Chop is to my mind a collection of brilliant short stories – brief, harsh, absurd, unrelenting. […] Dorthe Nors is truly a name to remember and I eagerly await the chance to acquaint myself with an authorship that is sure to count among the few that are truly urgent and lasting.”
Norrköpings Tidningar (SE)

“The short stories – They are superb. […] Above all she crams the stories full of details, shifts, glides, inner and outer turmoil, rich accounts and wild turns. It gives you the sense of a colossal amount of things happening in the text. […] But Nors masters the high speed well and effortlessly invents themes, people, milieus, and ways of thinking, as if on recoil.”
Arbetarbladet (SE)

“Some of the short stories are dreamy, others lean towards the absurd. Some are like observations while others are chilling sinkholes. […] Either way, they captivate me; I must first read them quickly, eat them in big bites, and then go back and enjoy the nuances. […] Dorthe Nors’ karate chopped prose is one I want to meet again.”
Kulturnytt, Public Service Radio (SE)

“It’s funny, intelligent and modern. […] After having finished reading the book I’m immediately seized by the urge to read it again. There’s so much more there, waiting between the words.”
Dagens Etc (SE)

“Karate chops are a controlled and accepted form of violence. That is also what Dorthe Nors offers: deliberate, well-aimed, and accurate blows. […] One of Nors’ greatest merits is that she is able to portray the madness of everyday life.”
Dagens Nyheter (SE)

“Dorthe Nors’ novels are sharp and sparkling icebergs lying heavily in the water; in line with the classic aesthetic of the short story, most of the story is found below the surface. […] Nors impresses greatly with her ability to portray complex, vulnerable people […] She masters the art of telling stories of big dimensions, through the selection of few but telling situations. Even if the style may vary from the defusedly beautiful to the facetious, the fundamental tone is always dark. […] Nors’ both sharp and subtle short stories burst into that which is most important: the emotions that drive us, but that are the hardest to put into words.”
Dag og Tid (NO)

“To read the collection is like being in a miniature landscape where you, despite the dark and depressive, want to remain. The 15 short stories are like Post-it notes about life. […] Nors finds her own tone. That tone is tender-hearted – she fills her different narrators with empathy and uses a language which is naked in dazzlingly honest passages. […] She leaves the reader with karate chops and a pounding need to read more from her.”
Svenska Dagbladet (SE)

“I can hardly bare these short stories. They’re too good. They contain far too little to be able to hold so much. My reading muscles are all done up.”
Kristianstadsbladet (SE)

“Nors moves in dark waters, but she does so with a great deal of humor without ever losing hold on gravity.”
Floret (SE)

“Danish writer Dorthe Nors covers the emotional spectrum of the experience in the two playfully experimental novellas of ‘So Much for That Winter’, finding as much material in the comedy of rejection as in its humiliations and heartbreak. […] The delightful ‘Minna Needs Rehearsal Space’ begins as a young Copenhagen composer is dropped by her boyfriend via text message in favor of a sexy pop musician. In a brisk translation by Misha Hoekstra, the novella charts Minna’s disequilibrium—and her annoyance with a noise-sensitive neighbor—in hundreds of single-sentence paragraphs that pile up like towers of stacked plates. […] It’s here that Ms. Nors’s impish wit stands out.”
Wall Street Journal (US)

“In addition to Nors’ poetic flair, the thing that separates these stories from other contemporary tales of woe and redemption is the forms they take to match. The first novella, ‘Minna Needs Rehearsal Space’, is told in status-update-sized chunks and the second, ‘Days,’ is written in listicles. […] Like Minna, we also may never be able fully break away from the new ways we’re learning to communicate. Try as we might, we never can shake it. But if we are resistant to Nors’ style, it’s probably because we’re inundated with and exhausted by this form of language every day—and that’s exactly why we should read it.”
Wired (US)

“Each novella nods to a distinctly contemporary cultural shorthand — status updates, listicles — while exploding the potential for narrative within formal limits. Thematically tied, they are equally inventive but disparate in structure and effect. […] Nors’ writing is by turns witty, gut wrenching, stark and lyrical. Her characters seesaw between longing for human connection and the space in which to lick their wounds. That she achieves all this while experimenting with form is something of an impossible feat. […] Isolation, rejection, cutting ties — Nors has a talent for rendering disconnection without sentimentality. Her observations are brutal, funny or both. […] ‘So Much for That Winter’ may be avant-garde, but it also deals in the fundamentals of being human. Who hasn’t been dumped or felt bewildered by the passage of time? Two riffs on a shared theme, these novellas do invite comparison to one another, but they bolster one another too. Paired as a single volume, Nors has created an exciting and artful literary diptych.”
Los Angeles Times (US)

“Dorthe Nors’ fiction mixes a dark-humored wisdom with gleams of pain. Along these lines, Karate Chop, her collection of stories from 2014, was one of the wisest, funniest, and most painful books of that year. […] I’ve been waiting to hear from her ever since. […] Nors is characteristically unsparing and hilarious.”
Flavorwire (US)

“They are as stark and unusual in form as they are bleak in mood. […] The result of these startling, experimental novellas is both somber and playful, the themes of romantic disappointment and creative blocks heightened by the minimalist style. So Much for That Winter is a compelling investigation of form and emotion.”
Shelf Awareness (US)

“Dorthe Nors returns with two refreshingly inventive novellas. […] The juxtaposition of mundane chores like laundry and shopping with moments of unexpected insight (“there isn’t anything the heart fears more than people who listen to it of their own free will”) creates a disorienting storm of strained beauty. Nors, brilliant and with a growing stateside readership, leaves readers wanting more.”
Booklist (US)

“[Dorthe Nors] experiments with form as a means to explore the rich inner lives of her characters. There’s great humor and unflinching pathos in her examination of modern life in all of its absurdity and loneliness.”
Bomb Magazine (US)

“What I find the most refreshing about Dorthe Nors’s So Much for That Winter is how both novellas concern themselves only with the bones of narrative. […] I often felt like I was reading two very different diaries, both written by lonesome people who are terrified by the passage of time, who lend meaning to their days by parsing them out into the smallest of moments, each one worthy of record because there isn’t a second that goes by when the characters aren’t thinking. And if free thought doesn’t make time meaningful, what does?”
The Paris Review (US)

“The pacing and voice in ‘Minna Needs Rehearsal Space’ are exactly what I would want from a Danish, lousily-dumped conceptual musician. Smart, dark, snide (but perfect), and funny in a way that is funny only to those of us who’ve been accused of being smart, dark and snide. […] The second novella’s title, ’Days’, directs the reader how to take on the work. […] Each segment is a poem with the same premise, but with a renewed potential. Patterns emerge: feeling at odds with the masses, running, visits to the cemetery, a certain distant reflection. There are steps forward and back, as is the way these things go. The entries become less concrete and more lyric. The days are lovely in their thick sadness.”
Entropy Mag (US)

“If forever more we are obliged to think in headlines and status updates, let us sound like Dorthe Nors.”
Bookswept (US)

“One of the speediest and most intriguing of this year’s summer books. […] Her innovative novellas hold a mirror to our disjointed times.”
BBC (UK)

“Nors adresses crucial questions of contemporary existence with great humor and humanity. […] Nors’ gaze is intimate and unflinching as she examines the isolation that arises from a plugged-in world.”
Sycamore Review (US)

“These two novellas present an edgy evocation of contemporary life. Nors is a creator of small spaces; her fiction is relentless, edgy, brief. […] The idea is to deconstruct, or rewire, narrative by stripping away excess detail in favor of something closer to pure consciousness. Yet lest this sounds off-putting or difficult, it couldn’t be more accessible.”
Kirkus Reviews (US)

“In [So Much for That Winter] there is inventiveness and motion, angst and loss, puzzles and minor epiphanies. […] Nors packs much into her telegraphic works. […] [The novellas] contain despair, grief, family conflicts, aesthetic pursuits, and the mundane; the two narrators are present, flesh, bone, heart, and spirit.”
Numero Cinq (US)

Minna Needs Rehearsal Space shows Nors’s economy and perceptiveness.”
Publishers Weekly (US)

“How often can we honestly say that a book is unlike anything else? Yet here it is, unique in form and effect.”
The Guardian (UK)

Minna Needs Rehearsal Space is the funniest Danish novel I have read in a long time.”
Information (DK)

“Satirically sharp and satirically funny.”
Weekendavisen (DK)

“These two novellas present an edgy evocation of contemporary life. Nors is a creator of small spaces; her fiction is relentless, edgy, brief. […] The idea is to deconstruct, or rewire, narrative by stripping away excess detail in favor of something closer to pure consciousness. Yet lest this sounds off-putting or difficult, it couldn’t be more accessible.”
Kirkus Reviews (US)

“Nors adresses crucial questions of contemporary existence with great humor and humanity. […] Nors’ gaze is intimate and unflinching as she examines the isolation that arises from a plugged-in world.”
Sycamore Review (US)

“This is music to a language-lovers’ ears.”
Dagbladenes Bureau, 5 Stars (DK)

“Tremendously insightful.”
Jyllandsposten (DK)

“A poetic pearl.”
Berlingske Tidene, 4 Stars (DK)

Minna Needs Rehearsal Space is one of the best books I have read.”
Litteraturnu (DK)

“Short, precise, and hugely entertaining.”
Litteratursiden (DK)

Minna Needs Rehearsal Space consists of vigorous, single-line sentences – ‘Minna is a composer’, ‘Minna is a tad avant-garde’, ’Minna is mud’ – that resemble Facebook updates, but when nakedly piled up become a story about a life crisis and a wounded heart, quite contemporary satirically devastating but with humor, poetry and, a happy ending. It calls to mind Kristina Lugn and Suzanne Brögger’s prosaic poem Tone, even if Nors has her very own punch-to-the-face-painful style.”
Aftonbladet (SE)

“There is inventiveness and motion, angst and loss, puzzles and minor epiphanies. […] Nors packs much into her telegraphic works. […] [The novellas] contain despair, grief, family conflicts, aesthetic pursuits, and the mundane; the two narrators are present, flesh, bone, heart, and spirit.”
Numero Cinq (US)

“I like it so unbelievably much, because it’s so liberatingly playful and different, while at the same time it is impossible to miss the gravity in Nors’ methodical work.”
Jönköpingsposten (SE)

“The text is chiseled out in short sentences, harsh statements that drive both reality and story to its extremity. It is absurdism in its best sense, not in the least in that she has, both through form and content, been able to bring into immediate focus the complexity of reality.”
Norrköpings Tidningar (SE)

“An original, sharp, and tender analysis of the lonely person’s situation.”
Arbetarbladet (SE)

“What an eye she has, Dorthe Nors. Fierce yet affectionate. Absent-minded yet at the same time penetrating. She conveys the impression of being preoccupied, wandering about to and fro and striking down on things that seem totally non essential. Then a particular detail is riveted and the story appears in a completely different light. […] To express it in a concise ‘Minna’-way: Dorthe Nors is a lot of fun to read.”
Sydsvenskan (SE)

Books

Press Images

Dorthe Nors (c) Petra Kleis 2018 - 2 Photo by Petra Kleis
Dorthe Nors (c) Petra Kleis 2018 - 3 Photo by Petra Kleis
Dorthe Nors (c) Petra Kleis 2018 - 4 Photo by Petra Kleis
Dorthe Nors (c) Petra Kleis 2018 - 5 Photo by Petra Kleis
Dorthe Nors (c) Petra Kleis 2018 - 6 Photo by Petra Kleis
Dorthe Nors (c) Petra Kleis 2018 - 7 Photo by Petra Kleis
Dorthe Nors (c) Petra Kleis 2018 - 8 Photo by Petra Kleis
Dorthe Nors (c) Petra Kleis 2018 - 9 Photo by Petra Kleis
Dorthe Nors (c) Petra Kleis 2018 - 1 Photo by Petra Kleis
Nors, Dorthe 1 SH_stor_2012_Fotograf Agnete Schlichtkrull Photo by Agnete Schlichtkrull
Nors, Dorthe 2 SH_2012_Fotograf Agnete Schlichtkrull Photo by Agnete Schlichtkrull
ASTRID DALUM Photo by Astrid Dalum
Nors, Dorthe 2008_1. Foto Simon Klein Knudsen Photo by Simon Klein Knudsen
Nors, Dorthe 2008_2. Foto Simon Klein Knudsen Photo by Simon Klein Knudsen

Awards

2017 – Shortlisted for the International Booker Prize for Mirror, Shoulder, Signal
2014 – P.O. Enquist Literary Prize for Karate Chop

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