Writing Between Male and Female
“I'm feeling my way, and that can be a good way of approaching literature."
“I think many authors see it as a challenge to write as the other sex,” says the award-winning Danish-Norwegian writer Kim Leine in this portrait. Leine’s writing evolves from the experiences he had living 15 years in Greenland, but he constantly gets inspiration from the classics: “I compete with them and communicate with them and try to outdo them. Or I feel challenged by them. It’s a continuous exchange with what I’m reading.” Read more …
“I have no formal literary training,” says Kim Leine, “I’m feeling my way, and that can be a good way of approaching literature. You don’t know what you’re doing but you’re driven by desire and the joy of telling a story and the joy of reading as a starting point. I try to recreate it. That’s why it becomes a smash-up of things that are intuitive and not planned.” During the writing process, Kim Leine is simultaneously reading: “I’m influenced by what I’m reading and compete with it and communicate with it and try to outdo it. Or I feel challenged by it. It’s a continuous exchange with what I’m reading. That’s very important. I use that technique very deliberately.”
Leine writes his books in Norwegian and in Danish. He admits that restlessness has characterized his writing style ever since his groundbreaking debut with ‘Kalak’ (the title is Greenlandic for ‘fucking Greenlander’), an auto-biographic novel in which he described his years living as a nurse in Greenland, becoming addictive to alcohol and drugs. Leine felt different when he met Greenlanders and spoke their language: “In a way, I felt freer. And perhaps more unrestrained and maybe even happier, less controlled,” he says.
When Kim Leine started the trilogy about Greenland, he saw independence for Greenland as an absolute necessity. “But now I see it differently,” he says. “It might not end with Greenland becoming independent. But it’s a paradox. I still see it as an absolute necessity. And at the same time, as an absolute impossibility. Impossible paradoxes are very good starting points for novels,” Leine states.
Kim Leine (born 1961 in Telemark, Norway) is an award-winning Danish-Norwegian author, whose work has been translated into 20 languages. He was born in Norway but moved to Denmark as a teenager. He lived and worked in Greenland for 15 years. His acclaimed debut novel, the autobiographical ‘Kalak’, 2007, is based on his time and experiences in Greenland. Many of his books are set in Greenland, including the novel ‘Profeterne i Evighedsfjorden’ (published in English as ‘The Prophets of Eternal Fjord’ in 2015), 2012. In 2013, he was awarded the Nordic Council Literature Prize for the novel ‘The Prophets of Eternal Fjord’.
Kim Leine was interviewed by literary critic Erik Skyum-Nielsen at Hirsholm island, Denmark, in August 2020.
Camera: Klaus Elmer
Edit: Kasper Bech Dyg
Produced by Christian Lund
Supported by: C.L. Davids Fond og Samling
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