I've settled in nicely for Big Book Summer, and at one point last in June I was simultaneously reading THREE giant books between 600 and 900 pages long -- not the best strategy for finishing them in a timely manner. As per usual, one of them really grabbed me and the others were neglected. I plowed through We, the Drowned by Carsten Jensen, finishing it in only five days.
Originally published in Danish, it's the fictionalized story of several generations of a fishing town in southern Denmark called Marstal, spanning just about 100 years. The story begins in 1848 when several of the local sailors are enlisted in the navy to fight the German rebels who have decided they don't want to live under Danish rule any more. Though they bring fully armed ships to blast the German port, they're utterly routed and Laurids Masden, one of the Danes from Marstal, is literally blown into the sky. Miraculously, he survives and becomes a local celebrity, until the fame (among other issues) is too much for him, and he promptly takes to the seas and essentially disappears.
When his son Albert is old enough, he also becomes a sailor, and spends years searching for his long-lost father, spanning the globe. Eventually he returns to Marsden, but is plagued by terrible visions of friends and neighbors embroiled in war.
War was like sailing. You could learn about clouds, wind direction, and currents, but the sea remained forever unpredictable. All you could do was adapt to it and try to return home alive.
This sounds really unique and intriguing. I don't think I've ever read a book set in Denmark! Glad that it grabbed your attention so well and was so engrossing.ReplyDelete
Congratulations on finishing your Big book!
2021 Big Book Summer Challenge
Thanks! I'm in a bit of a reading slump at the moment, hopefully another of the Big Books will grab my attention soon, I'm way behind on my goal!Delete
What a fabulous cover! How did you come across this book?ReplyDelete
It's been so long I can't even remember! I think I saw it on a bookstore display and was so drawn to the cover I couldn't resist.Delete
I remember this book made a big splash on bookish social media when it was first published so it has been on my radar for a while. Plus the cover is quite striking. I don't recall anyone pointing out sexual or racial stereotyping in it, however. But that was over ten years ago now and I think generally how we look at media critically has changed even in that short time period.ReplyDelete
I agree, I think it would definitely raise some eyebrows if it was published now.Delete
This sounds like an excellent read! The travel/sailing aspects you mention sound quite interesting. It's a shame that there are some issues of sexism and racism in the story, and I appreciate you pointing those out! Thanks so much for the great post, and congrats on your next big book read!ReplyDelete
I love books about ships and the sea! I also love traveling by boat, even if it's just a ferry.Delete
This sounds like a very different book. How was the translation? I sometimes notice that the translators don't quite understand English. My Big Book Challenge book---The Ministry of Utmost HappinessReplyDelete