Thursday, May 13, 2010

With Reverent Hands: The Fishermen

With Reverent Hands

I bring you with reverent hands / the books of my numberless dreams.
-WB Yeats, "A Poet To His Beloved"

WB Yeats, I'm sure, gave books to his beloved that he valued highly himself, and that he handled with reverence.  If you had to recommend a book you revered to someone, what would it be?
I'm asking you to highlight one book.  One book that you adore, that you prize, that changed your life, that you would save from a burning building, that you found serendipitously on a library shelf or at a used bookstore, looking lonely and ignored.  A book that thrills you but that, you have come to realize, no one else has really ever heard of, much less read.  With Reverent Hands is all about those books- the ones that deserve a wider audience than they are given and that you want everyone to go out and read, even if they are out of print.

If you would like to participate in this series, please let me know!  I will email you the template if you leave me your email address.  

This week's post is by Louise, who blogs at Lou's Pages.  I distinctly remember clicking through to Louise's blog after a comment she made on someone else's blog (of course, I don't remember whose), and since then I have really enjoyed reading her reviews.  For someone whose first language isn't English, she does really well writing eloquent and easy-to-read reviews (in English).  I'm excited that she's posting here with the first foreign language offering from With Reverent Hands!  But don't worry- it was translated into English, too!

What book are you highlighting? 
 The Fishermen by Hans Kirk

When did you first read it?  
As reluctant 18-year old seniors, we (my class and I) were being "forced" to read one of Kirk's other novels for our Danish class and finals later that year. I dreaded the whole thing. What could be more BOOOORING than having to read about a group of people in a faraway place in Denmark in a book written ages ago? I was in for a surprise, since I love the book, and immediately wanted to read what was called sort of a prequel to the one we had just been forced to read. So completely out of the curricula for my senior year, I voluntarily read The Fishermen.
What is it about?  Please give a brief summary.  
The Fishermen is the debut of Danish author Hans Kirk (1898 - 1962). It was published in 1928 and was the first Danish collective novel, meaning that it was about a group of people, not just one person. In this case, the reader follows a group of fishermen and their families from the day they move from the harsh Northern Sea to the more quiet land around the large fjord, Limfjorden. We follow these families for a couple of years.

The fishermen and their families have bought rights to fish for eel in the fjord, they've rented small houses and they are all looking forward to a somewhat easier life than what they led when they were living by the rough Northern Sea. The families are, with a few exceptions, very religious, belonging to a certain branch of Christianity called The Inner Mission.
  This is an excerpt of my review which you can find here.  You'll notice that this masterpiece only has three reviews, mine being one of them ;-)
What makes the book stand out to you?  Why do you love it? 
I love it simply because The Fishermen is a gripping story. This book stands out to me because me enjoying this book enough to make it one of my all time faves, was such a big surprise to my 18-year sour self. And while the story is dark, dark as Denmark during our long cold winters, there is so much humour bubbling between the pages - even at the most dreadful of times.

Please finish this analogy:  If you liked_______, you'll probably enjoy this book. 
Gap Creek by Robert MorganAlthough I have to say that right now I cannot think of a book which REALLY fits the analogy, because as I remember it, Cap Creek doesn't have the humour you'll find in The Fishermen.

What sort of person would you recommend to read this book?  
Interested in darker tales about life's hardships, religion and sin? Then you should read The Fishermen.
Do you have any quotes you would like to share?  
Actually no, because I only have the Danish version of the book, and therefore cannot come up with a quote in English from this book.


  1. Wow, thanks for the honor Aarti and also well done on posting the Danish front covers for this truly classic classic :-)

  2. This sounds very good, and like something I would really like. I really enjoy foreign fiction and have tried very little from Denmark, so this one goes right one the list! Thanks for sharing this book with us Louise!!

  3. Thanks for the kind words, Zibilee. And I thank Aarti for letting me do this post :-)

  4. Can't remember if I have heard about this author during my Danish classes. But if it is that good :)

  5. Again, I love this feature on your blog. Here is yet another book I would never have heard of otherwise. I'm still mulling over what my selection will be. It might take awhile but I will email you back, I promise!

  6. What a great feature! I came over from Lou's Pages (I'm glad you tooted your own horn because I never would have found your guest post!) A Great post! The book sounds so interesting! My great grandfathers family were fisherman in Newfoundland...


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