Skip to content
GYL_Nors_Kort over Canada_omslag_xxx.indd

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.

Extra Materials

US cover Wild Swims USA, Graywolf Press
Cover_Nors_DieSonne Germany, Kein & Aber
Kart-over-Canada_Fotokreditering-Gyldendal Norway, Gyldendal
Karta_over_kanada_framsida_ordfront Sweden, Ordfront
Unknown UK, Pushkin Press
1vvh9789057599880 The Netherlands, Podium


“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)

Ahlander Agency is a leading literary agency that represents Scandinavian writers at home and in the world.

Contact Us
Skip to navigation