North Sea

International literary sensation Dorthe Nors is back with an evocative and intelligent essay collection that examines the intricate relationship between writer and nature. Through a study of Denmark’s western shoreline – that stretches from Skagen in the north to where the Wadden Sea meets Holland in the south-west – Nors explores her own personal history as it relates to the sand beneath her feet.

Here, the ocean is wild and the sky is steel gray, trees are whipped against the heath and children are pulled out to sea by fierce currents as sea gulls soar above. Spires of a chemical factory carve dark shadows against the horizon and toxic waste leaks through decades of concrete cover-ups. In North Sea, the physical and the metaphysical sing in concert; people live off the natural world, embody it and poison it in equal measure. The heart longs and the mind resists, but in the end the land from which we spring will always define us.

In her characteristic precise prose, Nors depicts the magnetic draw of an austere landscape. But here we also find a new Nors – vulnerable yet unafraid to offer her own memories upon the pyre of history as well as to engage in an intellectual query about the decisions we make about how to live the one life we have been given. What does it mean to belong to a place? How is home defined – and how does the place we call home define us?

Dorthe Nors lives on the western coastline of Denmark and in these fifteen essays she invites the reader on a journey through history and present – the landscape’s as well as her own. In this deeply personal and exhilaratingly engaging literary exploration, Nors also urges the reader to step into the natural world, out into that which is greater than ourselves.

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)

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