Open City

Sometimes I’m reluctant to read books that are highly praised. Almost as if praise is in itself – dubious; a warning sign.

Teju Cole’s Open City has been such a book for me. A book everyone seemed to like, a novel I was sure I would find wanting.

I did not –


Here is what i found:

I believed Open City to be a book about New York, and it is; but it is also so much more:

Open City is a book of – I’m tempted to say: universal themes (even if I am aware of the problem of defining something as universal – as also is a theme in the novel), but even so I would like to use it, because this book deals with existential issues in a way that transcend individual differences. It is a book on history and on our everyday world, a book about the US, but also about Nigeria, Germany, Belgium & Japan. About trying to belong, and not wanting to belong. A book about class, race & gender.

And it is also to a high degree a book about music – rarely have I read a more beautiful musical ekphrasis than Cole’s rendering of Mahler’s Das Lied von der Erde – rarely a novel where art more powerfully transgress individual differences (showing us … the universal quality of art???)

And I have to to mention something which might seem personal and unimportant, but which I believe to be of great importance: I am everything the narrator is not – I’m middle-aged, I’m white, I’m a women, I’m married, I’m a mother and I am living in a different corner of the world. Still I can recognize myself in Julius – and I guess you can too. This is, I believe, a sign of Teju Cole’s rare literary talent.

And then of course there are the details: language, tone & rhythm, all the really difficult things that transform good ideas into great fiction.


in preparation

“There are no foreign lands. It is the traveller only who is foreign.” 

– Robert Louis Stevenson 

In the coming week I’m off to Denmark to see several exhibitions, and review a few of them. I will go to  Louisiana at Sjælland (Zealand) (a favorite museum of mine) to see Peter Doig. There is also a Jeff Wall exhibition on show (the same exhibition I saw in Amsterdam a year ago). And an exhibition of David Hockney‘s work on paper. Louisiana is a museum with lots of space – indoors as well as a great sculpture garden. Its a perfect place to spend a day.

doig wood horse

Peter Doig Grand Riviere (2001-2002)
“Grand Riviere” is Doig’s first painting of Trinidad, where he lived as a child before moving to Canada and then to London, England, where this painting was created in his studio. Doig often combine landscapes and scenes from different parts of the world in one and the same painting.  In this lush tropical scene, we can also see references to Canadian landscape painting, a clear influence throughout Doig’s career.

From Sjælland I will take a train to the smaller island Fyn, where my plan is to visit Brandts’ summer exhibition called SELFIE.

I believe I’m up for some very different and really incomparable art experiences. And this is truly why I like working as a critic; every exhibition invites me into its own very original world, every text I write demands its own research. And everything I already know comes into play with this new knowledge. Each new review demands its own kind of writing

12 mai 2015

Originally posted on an image a day:

One of the great joys of getting older is to see all the marvelous things my younger friends are up to – like this for example: My son’s sweet girlfriend making her BA-exam in film at Aberystwyth University & my son acting as the protagonist – .

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