The Author

I get high from reading Walt Whitman; a book by Johannes V. Jensen sends shivers down my spine. I am full of awe and gratitude over the fact that Karen Blixen once wrote a book about a coffee plantation in Africa. Iím ready to cry when I read that part, that sentence, where she inquires as to whether her drawing room passes like a fleeting image through the gazelleís consciousness as it runs across the plain.
    And I am delighted when I can once again ascertain that the spotted, nicotine-yellow pages and the greasy, dog-eared state of an old anthology Iíve just fished out of the garbage cannot prevent the words from glowing with the same presence, the same degree of intensity, with which another person once wrote them Ö perhaps a hundred years ago Ö or more.

Literature is under no obligation; you cannot command it to act. You canít say that it has to be good for one thing or another. That it must console, distract, entertain, tempt or reflect us.
    It is autonomous and dwells in its own sphere, but when itís truly good, it can say something very clearly about the reality we live in and about what it means to exist.
    When itís truly good, it is the most direct link from one person to another, capable of affecting our feelings and our thoughts. Capable of transgressing boundaries, time and death. Capable of changing a person, and thereby the world.
    I can say with certainty that literature has changed me.

I was born in 1960. I grew up in a working-class neighborhood in the center of Copenhagen. There wasnít much literature to be had in my childhood home, but Iíve sat under the coffee table and heard my father, the seaman, tell the most amazing tall tales from the Seven Seas Ö and Iíve slept right next to a bar with a jukebox on the other side of the wall and therefore know some hit tunes from the 60ís by heart.
    I canít rule out the possibility that these two things have helped influence my body of writings, but Iím most inclined to believe the theory that I write because I experience the world so intensely, I need to process what I experience in order to be able to orientate myself at all.
    Itís a method of being in dialogue with the world. When I write, I open all the doors of my mind, and afterwards, when I go out on the streets, the city lies open to me. Then I see and experience everything very strongly, in a torrent of reality and life, with a particular intensity that I attempt to incorporate into my books.

If I were to describe very briefly what my books are about, I would say each is very different, but - whether they take place in a lurid nightclub, a Moroccan medina or a labyrinthine backyard quarter of Copenhagen - all of them revolve around the same question: What does it mean to be a human being?

I have attended writerís school; Iíve studied comparative literary history at the university. Iíve written four books, various short stories, articles and feature stories. I have received financial support from the National Art Fund, which I am exceedingly happy about.

It is my goal to write as good and attentive literature as humanly possible. Not for money or prestige, not for just anyone, but for all of those who Ė like me Ė enjoy reading a good book.

English translation by Steve Schein.