Carsten Jensen

  1. About Carsten Jensen
  2. About Carsten Jensen’s writings

About Carsten Jensen’s writings

Danish writer and journalist Carsten Jensen was born in 1952. He has published a number of novels, critical essays and travelogues. He achieved his great popular breakthrough with the travelogues Jeg har set verden begynde (I have seen the world begin) (1996) and Jeg har hørt et stjerneskud (I have heard a shooting star) (1997). His novels Vi, de druknede (We, the drowned)(2006) and Sidste rejse (Last voyage)(2007) have made him one of Denmark’s most read authors, and the novels have been published in a great number of countries.

Carsten Jensen’s breakthrough came as a critic in the daily newspaper Politiken, among other things by transforming the TV review into a critical snapshot of the times. His articles in the collections Sjælen sidder i øjet (The windows of the soul) (1985), På en mørkeræd klode (In a world that’s afraid of the dark) (1986) and Souvenirs from the 80s (1988) are such critical electric shocks. His novel Kannibalernes nadver (The supper of cannibals)(1988) is a satirical depiction of the narcissistic culture of the 1980s, with the male narrator in the role of erotic explorer, while the narrator in the novel Jorden i munden (The Earth in the mouth) (1991) wishes to understand himself through a journey he recalls — an important motif in Carsten Jensen’s later writings.

The collections of essays Af en astmatisk kritikers bekendelser (Confessions of an asthmatic critic)(1992) and Forsømmelsernes bog (The book of negligence) (1993) are characterised by a personal search for moral values in a dialogue with literature. This search finds an answer through the world trip that Jensen recounts in Jeg har set verden begynde (I have seen the world begin)(1996), a book packed with feeling and reflection: meeting the human being in the alien culture. At the same time, the journey through Russia, China, Cambodia and Vietnam becomes a critical reflection about the fall of communism. Jeg har hørt et stjerneskud (I have heard a shooting star), which appeared in 1997, concludes the journey in Latin America. These two travel accounts achieved instant status as classics

He once again placed himself as a key critic of the zeitgeist in two collections of essays published around the turn of the millennium. His diary essays in År to og tre (Years two and three) (1999) look fondly at the child and critically at stupidity and abuse of power. Oprøret mod tyngdeloven (The rebellion against gravity) (2001), chiefly articles from the daily Politiken, comments on current trends and events, and the same is true of Livet i Camp Eden (Camp Eden)(2004). He continues his reporting from his extensive travels in Det glemte folk (The forgotten people)(2004), about the struggle of the Karen people in the border regions of Burma.

The novels Vi, de druknede (We, the drowned)(2006) and Sidste rejse (Last voyage)(2007) both take their point of departure in the seafaring town of Marstal. The first is the great tale of four generations of sailors in the life of the 19th century. Carsten Jensen was awarded Danske Bank’s literature prize for this work in 2007. Sidste rejse (Last voyage) is the story of a painter’s struggle to become an artist. In 2009, together with Karsten Hermansen, he wrote the book Vi sejlede bare (We just sailed), which provides an insight into the sources he used when writing Vi, de druknede (We, the drowned). In 2010 Ud – opdagelsesrejser 1978-2010 (Out – voyages of discovery 1978-2010) appeared. This book consists of reprints of Jensen’s travel reports over 32 years.

Among the awards Carsten Jensen has received are the Olof Palme Prize in 2010 and the Søren Gyldendal Prize in 2012.

Carsten Jensen was born in 1952. Jensen has previously written travelogues, most known are his two books Jeg har set verden begynde (I Have Seen the World Begin) from 1996 and Jeg har hørt et stjerneskud (I Have Heard a Shooting Star) from the following year. He was awarded the Golden Laurels in 1997 for the former, but had received critical acclaim previous to the award for his essays and articles such as Sjælen sidder i øjet (1985) (The Windows of the Soul) and Jorden i munden (1991) (Earth in the Mouth). He is considered one of Denmark's most outspoken and critical participants in the public debate. Winner of the Swedish "Olof Palme Prize" 2009, "Le Prix Gens de Mer" in 2010 and "Prix littéraire des ambassadeurs des pays ayant en partage l'usage du francais" 2010.