The Paris Review

Beyond Hygge: An Interview with Dorthe Nors

Dorthe Nors. Photo: Astrid Dalum.

The Danish writer Dorthe Nors lives alone with a black cat in a house so far west on the Jutland peninsula that she’s practically in Scotland. It’s not far from the rural parish community where she was born, in 1970, and raised by a carpenter father and a hairdresser-turned-art-teacher mother. She spent years poring over Swedish literature and art history at Aarhus University, harnessing a lifelong adoration for Ingmar Bergman’s The Magic Lantern and his workbooks. Early on, Nors had hoped to infiltrate Copenhagen’s cliquey literati, but she soon realized this endeavor was a waste of time—time taken away from her writing.

Scouted by Brigid Hughes, the former Paris Review editor and founder of A Public Space, Nors’s alarmingly succinct short-story collection Karate Chop—published to acclaim in Denmark in 2008—was received rapturously when it was published in English in 2014. A story from Karate Chop, “The Heron,” was the first by a Danish writer to be published in The New Yorker. Her staccato novella Minna Needs Rehearsal Space—which was published in the States alongside another of Nors’s novellas, So Much for That Winter—cemented Nors as an author who is able to thoughtfully admonish our digital generation. In it, Minna is a struggling musician who would be producingMirror, Shoulder, Signal 

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