cover image A Line in the World: A Year on the North Sea Coast

A Line in the World: A Year on the North Sea Coast

Dorthe Nors, trans. from the Danish by Caroline Waight. Graywolf, $16 trade paper (240p) ISBN 978-1-64445-209-7

Danish novelist Nors (Mirror, Shoulder, Signal) makes her first foray into nonfiction with this poetic chronicle of her time spent along Denmark’s North Sea coast. The rugged and ever-shifting coastline, which Nors paints as harsh and unforgiving but not without beauty, has “been a part of me from the beginning,” she writes in “The Line”—it’s where her family is from, and where she owns a house. “Amsterdam, Hvide Sande” shows how “living with the water and off the water takes arrogance and submission at the same time.” “West by Water” reflects on the WWII land mines that, until “well into” Nors’s lifetime, were buried off the coast, while “The Secret Place” describes the industrial waste that contaminated the area around her family’s summer home. One of the most memorable entries is “The Timeless,” which sees Nors and her friend Signe Parkins (whose illustrations adorn the opening of each chapter) explore frescoes in coastal churches; when asked at one church if they’re there to see the paintings, Nors answers, “We’re on a kind of quest for things that transcend time.” Nors’s portrait of her connection to a landscape both “harsh and mild” enchants. Illus. (Nov.)