We, the Drowned
Carsten Jensen’s debut novel has taken the world by storm. Already hailed in Europe as an instant classic, We, the Drowned is the story of the port town of Marstal, whose inhabitants have sailed the world’s oceans aboard freight ships for centuries. Spanning over a hundred years, from the mid-nineteenth century to the end of the Second World War, and from the barren rocks...more
The book is the ocean.
It’s about a fight with God. The book covers roughly 200 years of history, and the sea is the only cons...more
It was a big baggy monster. Its language oddly stiff and awkward. It was a tell don't show book. And I'm not sure why so many supposedly hard-boiled people were so shocked at the sight of Captain Cook's shrunken head either.
At one point the book reminded me of One Hundred Years of Solitude and I thought that Jensen wanted to write a Danish version of that, but with a shipyard financial scandal instead of a fruit plantation. Howeve...more
I picked this book up because of its pretty blue cover that attracted me straight away. Perhaps it was fate that lead me to this book as I hadn’t heard of the title or author before. I had a certain ‘feeling’ the moment I picked it up and a little part of me knew. So often litt...more
This is a story about the people of a small seafaring town in Denmark, Marstal, where for generations the men of Marstal had beco...more
The great achievement of this book is how the individual stories both reflect and engendered the bigger story of the community of Marstal, and in some...more
This is an incredibly well written book. Jensen's rich prose really brings the town of Marstal and its inhabitants to life, so much so that you can really fe...more
"Many years ago there lived a man called Laurids Madsen, who went up to Heaven and came down again, thanks to his boots. He didn't soar as high as the tip of the mast on a full-rigged ship; in fact he got no further than the main....Laurids Madsen should have been dead. But death didn't want him, and he came back down a changed man."
No, no fantasy in this book. This is the saga of a small coastal village in Denmar...more
Jensen traces the history of Marstal, a small island off the coast of Denmark, from war with the Germans in the 1850s through to the aftermath of World War II. Over the decades readers meet four generations of father...more
"Many years ago there lived a man called Laurids Madsen, who went up to Heaven and came down again, thanks to his boots.
He didn't soar as high as the tip of the mast on a full-rigged ship; in fact, he got no farther than the main. Once up there, he stood outside the pearly gates and saw Saint Peter - though the guardian of the gateway to the Hereafter merely flashed his bare ass at him.
Laurids Madsen should have been dead. But death di...more
A beautiful novel about the sea and living at sea and with the sea.
Unlike anything I've read before. Beautifully written even though I read the English translation. The style was fluid yet beautiful.
The "we" perspective gave it an unusual and interesting angle.
The characters, well-developed and unique, were all interesting in their own right.
A majestic achievement, in my opinion.
"We, the Drowned" is a big book. Winner of the "Danske Banks Litteraturpris" and called in a reader poll, "The best book in Denmark in the past 25 years," it was written by journalist Carsten Jensen and expertly translated from the Danish by Charlotte Barslund, with Liz Jensen.
"We, the Drowned" tells the history of a Danish seaport, Marstal, over a hundred year period: from 1845 -- and a war between Denmark and Germany -- to 1945, and World War II. The wars are...more
This book really grew on me and I have a lot of thoughts about it. Here are some initial ones.
- I started to grow incredibly attached to the characters and found myself engrosed in their adventures, whether at sea or on land.
-So many people say that this book sags in the middle which is true but I think that this kind of lends itself to feeling like Albert does - landlocked and wishing for the sea.
-A couple of incredibly vivid and memo...more
There are three main characters the novel focuses on throughout...more
The sailors spend quit...more
I gave We, the Drowned four stars but would actually rate it at 4.5. Although I loved this book and I am sure that portions will stay with me forever, I couldn’t rate it at a five because there were moments when the story got bogged down and sputtered. But it always picked up again and there were many times when I would wait impatiently all day to pick it up and dive in again.
Be forewarned, this is a hefty book...at 688 pages. But do not let that scare you aw...more
'Every sailor knows this bitter feeling: the coast is near, but you know you'll never reach it. Is there anything more heartbreaking than drowning in sight of land? Is there a single one of us who hasn't at leas...more
Laurids Madsen goes off to fight the Germans along with other men of the town of Marstal in 1848. Laurids ends up on a boat which explodes and sends him up to the heavens, only to land in safely in his heavy boo...more
It takes almost 100 pages until I'm struck by this strange, recurring "we." After all, it's not as if the narrator takes up a lot of room in Carsten Jensen's 700-page novel; for the most part, We, The Drowned is narrated in the same way as many other novels with no clear protagonist, some sort of omnicient storyteller who never gets personal, never says "I" or reveals his or her name. It's just that the reader is occasionally reminded that this story, the history of the little Da...more
Despite telling the tale of roug...more
I loved the obvious devotion the author had to his hometown and its history and the daring required to depict these characters and their motivations, shortcomings and idiosyncrasies in such unsparing detail. I loved the arc of history bending around this town as her fleet circled the globe.
Jensen was awarded the Golden Laurels for "I Have Seen the World Begin" and the Danske Banks Litteraturpris, Denmark’s most prestigious literary award, for "We, the Drowned."