A Danish classic: Nordkraft by Jakob Ejersbo, is a book about Danish junkies set in Aalborg. The first part is about Maria, who is the girlfriend of a drug dealer, and the daughter of a woman who just wants her daughter to raise her grades to get a better life. The second part is about Allan who wants to escape from his past. The third part is about a character introduced in the first part, about how his parents found him dead, how they prepared for his funeral, and the actual funeral.
The book became an immediate hit in Denmark, and later on a film was produced as well. I read about the author, and sadly found out he died of cancer when he was only 40-years-old. It goes well with the sadness in the book. The book reminds me of Trainspotting and Reindeerspotting, but a milder version of them. Maybe a story set in Christiania, Copenhagen would have been rougher, I don’t know.
The first part tells in many ways a typical story of a young woman without a real plan for her life. Her parents are divorced, and she has no real connection with her mother. She’s living with her drug dealer boyfriend, and they have constantly people visiting their home. It was a nice read, but it didn’t give me anything new to what I’ve read before about similar junkies around Europe. However, I liked the story and the writing, and if you ask me, the book should have solely been about Maria, because part one was definitely the best part of the book.
The other two parts of the book were less intriguing. I did not warm up to the characters in the second part at all. The third part was poignant and I really felt for the dead boy’s parents. The pain they must have felt… Must be hard to wait for the call, the call when someone on the other side of the line says “your son is dead”. It must be even harder to find him dead in your own home, especially when you can see the cause of death so clearly.
I really enjoyed the research Ejersbo had done for the book. He had really digged deep into some cultural issues, which gave the book an interesting edge. I enjoyed his writing style. It worked especially well in the first part. I could really see and feel the apartment with all the drug addicts hanging around. I wonder how many people like the ones described in the book exists in Denmark, or anywhere else for that matter.
It is an interesting read, and I bet it caused a bit of a stir in Denmark when it was released. I doubt it would do the same today. While reading the book you can still sense the welfare state and the emptiness of endless opportunities that the country has to offer. But, what if you don’t feel like the typical middle class road is for you? What if there are so many options to choose from, so many expectations to live up to, but something in it is missing for you, and the rest of them don’t understand? I guess one option is to live a life like the main characters in the book.