Nors, known primarily as a fiction writer, here embarks on a languorous and evocative tour of her native Denmark ... The dramas of the past are evoked not so much through individual characters as through their traces—buildings, ruins, shipwrecks—and this westerly Denmark is less the land of Hans Christian Andersen fairy tales and sleek Georg Jensen designs than a place of ancient landscapes steeped in myth ... People aren’t wholly incidental to the narrative. Nors introduces us to a variety of colorful characters, and shares vivid memories of her family’s time in a cabin on the coast south of Thyborøn. But in a way that recalls the work of Barry Lopez, nature is at the heart of this beautiful book, framed in essay-like chapters, superbly translated by Caroline Waight.
The resulting travelogue captures a side to Denmark that few will find familiar — the literal and figurative opposite of the country’s cosmopolitan capital, Copenhagen ... Though these memorable historical tidbits are among the most visceral details in her work, A Line in the World is as much an appraisal of this troublingly beautiful landscape as it is an exploration of Nors’s identity. In her attempt to understand the shapeshifting Danish peninsula, combing over the history, traditions and myths of the region, she is making sense of this world and her place within it ... In that sense, this is no tourist’s guide to Denmark’s relatively barren coastline. Instead of dwelling on overfamiliar marketing concepts like hygge or references to Nobu, as writers fresh to Denmark often do, Nors reflects on the vital specificity of a place not often frequented by visitors, as well as its impact on the psyche ... Such details provide rare insight into a region where daily life is often spent in monotonous solitude and where tourists and new residents alike can find it difficult to break through the tough facades; where the slower tempo of life is driven by the sea and its moods, the rhythms tethered to a predictable yet finicky tide ... one of the first books to capture the unique region in English. In prose that is as sparse and quiet as the marshy Jutland peninsula itself, the book provides a snapshot of life in a location that is full of history and at the same time ever-shifting, its future uncertain.
Who else could have done justice to this wild landscape, the stubborn psyche of its inhabitants, its brutal myths and its toxic industry? ... This elegant and assonant translation by Caroline Waight is a further welcome import ... A journey in her company is never a dull prospect ... Along this mutable coast, on the border between map and myth, Nors is in her element.