A few days ago, Karen was a writer and translator immersed in Copenhagen’s creative scene, madly in love with her partner. Now she’s a patient in a psychiatric facility.
Hunger Heart is a sensual, profound work of autofiction about love, relationships, mental illness, and recovery by one of Denmark’s most celebrated literary writers. Fastrup immerses us in the alienations of her breakdown and hospitalization: what it’s like to apologize for threatening your loved one with a knife; how an eating disorder can begin with the discomfort of family and adolescence; and how to make the long journey back to one’s creative life.
But this is not primarily a book of heartache and damage. We are reminded of the electricity of love and the power of language to support our identities and our lives. Deeply courageous, captivating and affecting, Hunger Heart is as much a balm as it is a firework.
Danish author Karen Fastrup is the author of six novels. Her most recent book, Hunger Heart, published in Denmark in 2018, was shortlisted for the DR’s Novel Prize in 2019. The Danish Arts Foundation called the book “a work of particularly high artistic quality.” Femina Magazine named Fastrup one of the seven most remarkable women in Denmark in 2019, and the year’s “Taboo Breaker” for the awareness Hunger Heart created around mental illness. In addition to her own writing, Fastrup has translated more than fifty novels into Danish by such notable authors as Sally Rooney, Karl Ove Knausgård, August Strindberg, Linn Ullmann, Vigdis Hjorth, and Per Petterson. Her novel Beloved of My Twenty-seven Senses (tr. Tara Chace) was published by Book*hug Press in 2008. Fastrup lives in Copenhagen.
Praise for Hunger Heart:
“Through spare prose, Fastrup portrays a woman of immense desire—a desire for love that short-circuits her mind, making her seek to control her soul’s hunger by controlling her appetite for food. A beautiful example of autofiction in all its power.” —Marianne Apostolides, author of I Can’t Get You Out of My Mind
Marina Allemano holds a PhD in Comparative Literature and has taught Scandinavian Studies and World Literature for two decades at the University of Alberta. She has translated novels and essays by contemporary Danish writers Suzanne Brøgger, Hanne Marie Svendsen, and Dorrit Willumsen, and has written monographs in Danish on these same authors. She lives in St. Albert, Alberta.