Nominated by:

Aarhus Kommunes Biblioteker, Denmark

Deichmanske Bibliotek, Oslo, Norway

Publisher of nominated edition:

Harvill Secker, UK

This Should Be Written in the Present Tense

Helle Helle      

Translated from the Danish by Martin Aitkin

2016 Longlist

This should be written in the present tense. But it isn’t.

Dorte should be at uni in Copenhagen. But she’s not.

She should probably put some curtains up in her new place.

And maybe stop sleeping with her neighbour’s boyfriend.

Perhaps things don’t always work out the way they should.

Dorte is twenty and pretending to study literature at Copenhagen University. In fact, she is cut off and adrift, living in a backwater in a bungalow by the rail tracks, riding the trains, clocking up random encounters. She remembers her ex Per – who had wanted to grow old with her, who had stood in tears on the driveway as she left – as a new world opens up: one of transient relationships, casual lovers, and awkward attempts to write. This Should Be Written in the Present Tense is a novel for anyone who has ever been young, sleepless, and a little reckless, trying to figure it all out.

(from publisher)

About the Author

Helle Helle is arguably Denmark’s foremost modern novelist and its most popular. She has been awarded many prizes, including the Danish Critics’ Prize, the Danish Academy’s Beatrice Prize, and the P.O. Enquist Award. She was recently given the Lifetime Award of the Danish Arts Council. Her work has been translated into thirteen languages. This is her first novel to be translated into English.

About the Translator

Martin Aitken is the acclaimed translator of numerous novels from Danish, including works by Peter Høeg, Jussi Adler-Olsen and Pia Juul, and his translations of short stories and poetry have appeared in many literary journals and magazines. In 2012 he was awarded the American-Scandinavian Foundation’s Nadia Christensen Translation Prize.

Librarian’s Comments

Helle Helle’s dazzling novel vibrates the underlying meaning and captivates the reader into a universe where the surface all the time is about to collapse. A minimalistic realism so precise that it drills deep into the reader and his contemporaries.

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