Readersforum's Blog

October 10, 2012

A Page in the Life: Peter Hoeg

After years in the cold, Peter Hoeg’s new novel is warm and funny. He talks to Christian House.

When Karen Blixen returned to Denmark from her African farm, she declared “the cure for everything is saltwater: sweat, tears, or the sea”. I’m reminded of her words on the train from Copenhagen to the Jutland Peninsula to meet Peter Hoeg.

The bestselling author of Miss Smilla’s Feeling for Snow has had a difficult time since his breakthrough, enduring self-imposed exile from the capital, divorce and a 10-year hiatus between books, ending with the publication of his last, poorly received, novel The Quiet Girl in 2006.

Hoeg hasn’t given an interview to a British journalist in more than a decade. Yet he greets me smiling at Vejle station. “I’m very much looking forward to this,” he says.

There is a simplicity and symmetry to his appearance: white collarless shirt, cropped pale hair, geometric features and glacial eyes. I order coffee; he orders mineral water. Equilibrium and discipline are his maxims, borne out through various periods as a fencer, sailor and dancer.

A contemplative approach also informs his working practices. “I have a pattern of meditating, then writing, then meditating and then writing again,” he tells me. Does he meditate on his writing? “No, for me meditation is wiping the blackboard.”

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