Aftenpost – 30th October 2013
With life intact
Preacher. Refugee. Junkie. A lot of labels have taken care of Kim Leine. Today only one applies: award-winning author.
Aftenposten published a portrait interview on 9 March with Wednesday’s winner of the Nordic Council Literature Prize. It is reminiscent of old and new readers.
He knew that Jehovah would kill him. Because he was not good. Not good enough. Kim Leine fled and survived. Then he had to escape again.
The author, originally from Seljord, has settled in Copenhagen. It is first and foremost here that he receives literature. Only this year he has been awarded three. He has written four books and translated into 12 languages. But it is in Denmark he is most read and regularly meets the audience.
But perhaps – if he is awarded the Nordic Council Literature Prize, which he has been nominated for this year – maybe we could call him “the Norwegian author”?
He has nothing against him. Kim Leine says he is 100 percent Norwegian. Also 100 percent Danish. It sounds a bit complicated, but is one of the simpler things in his life.
Now he stands in his own doorway and welcomes. We are in a modern part of Copenhagen. Outside Amager Fælled, Denmark’s largest bird sanctuary, there has been a completely new district in recent years. We are close to IT University and Denmark Radio. Besides, the University Library, where Kim Leine usually sits when he writes.
It is in the morning in the apartment. The six-month son sleeps. The three-year-old is in kindergarten. Only the author himself and his wife Bodil are swimming around and say we just have to look around.
“Inside is Kim’s oasis,” says Bodil.
“He is always happy when he comes out from there.
She points into a room with a desk and books from floor to ceiling. This is where he is reading and doing office work. Now he is in the kitchen and drinks strong coffee. Giving us a mug and asking us to talk higher.
– I’m hearing badly. My hearing was destroyed by all the shooting in Greenland. It is as easy to buy weapons like cigarettes. The harmonious everyday life of the bright apartment is in stark contrast to the life he has portrayed so vibrant and critically acclaimed in his books.
Leine is a man with an open blue look. A friendly man. We suspect he has always been. Even he has had his strong doubts. Not for no reason. Read his first book Kalak. In short, it is an autobiographical settlement with a father who interferes with him in adolescence. Read his second book Valdemarsdag – the story of his own grandfather, who in jealousy kills a man with cold blood.
Without a father
If anyone is wondering if Kim Leine has been angry because of the sins of the ancestors, then the answer is without hesitation: “Oh yes!
The 52-year-old can still wonder if he has any features similar to theirs.
“I’ve always had the feeling of being different. And that’s a lot of father’s story. He came from Denmark to Seljord and established a congregation of Jehovah’s Witnesses. When I was five years old, it became obvious that he was gay. Thus he was expelled and returned to Denmark. Mom and I stayed again. I was the only divorced child in Jehovah’s Witnesses and throughout Seljord.
Kim Leine was almost always afraid. For classmates who bullied. For God who would kill him. He firmly believed in armageddon and quite so that the millennial kingdom was not for him. Jehovah did not like him, he was holy convinced. But for others there was hope. So he began to go early to door and proclaim the good message: “You shall all die if you do not join us.” None are as pleasant as Jehovah’s Witnesses. Each member has solid social competence. All people, no matter who, are met with openness and respect. But the overall idea is cynical, it’s all about recruiting people. I have experienced how they show consideration when you are far down and feel the weakest. Then they are flattering like old crows, but they do not care much about it. It is in many ways safe and good to grow up in Jehovah’s Witnesses, it is great space and at the same time it is spaciousness on their premises.
A flight plan
Kim Leine leans back on the couch. His living room is a bit like slang-you-down-and-do what-you want-room. A piano to the wall. Shelves with toys and games. Mattress on the floor. One sofa by the window and one across the room. A projector under the ceiling, and a big canvas on the wall because he has a passion for watching movies. The roller blind in front of the kitchen window is a map of Europe.
“I think it’s great beauty in the map. Just kidding it, you get a feel of what the country or the place represents. You can dream away and imagine that you are traveling. It’s pure fiction.
At home in Seljord, Leine walked around and longed away. Early in youth, the father, who had barely had contact with his five-year old, began to write letters to him. Sent with music by Gasoline. By Kim Larsen. Such things. Kim Leine got a dream about Denmark. Perhaps it could be his way out of the fearful life of Seljord?
One day, 300 dollars came with the letter from the father. They were laid aside. Set on hold until an escape 15-year-old was now determined to conduct. Only he finished the book he was reading, he would go. He lay in his room with the sea clearing all the tracks.
At one o’clock one night he flipped to the last side, read it, got up and dressed. After walking for four hours, he reached Flatdal. Met a trailer driver who would like to give him a hook for Oslo and furthermore, the young man thought a smoke was desirable. Then he sat there, smoke dizzy and felt completely free.
“I had to keep my mind away from my mother. I knew she would be very upset when she woke up and realized I was gone. Besides, I had left this letter to her where I wrote “Do not be looking for me. You will never see me again. “For 295 kroner he went by train to Copenhagen. When he arrived at the Central Station, it was five kroner and a note with the address of the father in his pocket.
He failed to pronounce the name of the street in Danish and dared not ask anyone about where it was. After breaking the street for six hours, he finally found out.
Then he stood there in front of the front door in his terry trousers and his home-knitted sweater, called and thought his father would be surprised. It turned out that her mother had a clue as to where Kim would take the road so she’d called her father several times in the hope that Kim would appear there.
Settlement with the father
Now he was here. In the world’s smallest apartment. At a father he barely knew, a father who lived with a man, but, as it soon became apparent, did not stop using the son to satisfy his sexual needs.
– Dad was deeply injured by his childhood, and I became a natural object for his needs. The abuse took place over a year. Even though I shivered like an asparagus every time it happened, I thought it was something that just had to happen. Insanity is the risk of living in isolation. And I came from double isolation with growing up in Little Seljord and in Jehovah’s Witnesses – who pride themselves in not knowing what is happening in the world. When I read myself a bit, I realized how wrong it was and ended the sexual abuse. But you know, there are abusive behaviors on many levels, and dad has the traits of an evil Nazarist. I lived with him for five years while I went to high school and became a nurse. He had completely overtaken me and I was deprived of any kind of self-esteem. Maybe he’s psychopathic. I do not know.
In 2004, Kim Leine takes a final settlement and completely breaks down. He writes and sends him a personal letter, but anyone can read the details of this settlement in the first Kim Leine novel, Kalak.
– He knows I do not want anything to do with him. But when I’m holding talks around, he happens. Then he sits on the second or third row and stares at me. It’s a big victory to know I’m not put out of it that I’m completely indifferent.
An ideal state
One can hardly avoid getting a breath of breath from what Kim Leine says. And need some fresh air. It actually fits perfectly when he suddenly says that now we must go. He is going to the center to meet his editor in Gyldendal. For example, to talk about the translation he is wearing by Knut Hamsun’s Sult. Also discuss new own releases.
We leave the apartment and take the elevator down. He says he likes to stand like this and wait for a lift. Or to get green light when crossing a street. Good breaks in everyday life, he calls it.
In the upbringing there were books that gave him respite. They became somewhere he could travel without fear. He read everything he came across – sought refuge in the books and dreamed of becoming a writer.
– Reading was my only valuable adult contact. The desire to write yourself came from reading. I got the idea that writing was the only ideal condition in a human life-then you were free and able to decide for yourself.
There would be a lot of detours before he managed to get there.
Kaos in Greenland
Kim Leine can do more than tell. He knows how to chase. Havfuglen. Reindeer. He alone has been a maternity care worker for 25 children. It happened while he was a nurse in a small village in East Greenland. Here he was the only representative of health care and had to take care of everything from birth to acute illness and accident.
Greenland was a dream and a flight. He came there in 1989 with his first wife and their two children and lived first in a larger city, Nuuk. The goal was to get a new identity, get away from hatred and self as incestoffer.
“You usually say that the niches are on the load. In my case, the niggle went ahead and waited for me at the airport. Things ran completely runaway. My new identity meant celebration, fill and lady adventure. It lasted for three years. Then we moved to the small village of East Greenland. Found calm and regained the friendship in marriage.
The meeting with the publisher is over. We have moved to a cafe at Strøget. Kim Leine has one hour before picking up his son in kindergarten and so forth on author visits to Jutland. There is much happening in his life, yet he says that all the restlessness he had in the past has now disappeared. He does not have to flee anymore. That he should experience it was completely distant to him a few years ago.
In 2001 he was new, the commute between Denmark and Greenland, the job, was depressed, had anxiety. He began to solve the problems with pills. As a nurse, he had easy access to the strongest on the market. Healthcare is the best dop-longer in
the world, he says. “If you’re bad, just open the medicine cabinet and make a living.
September 2001, when the planes flew into the twin towers in New York, he systematically worked through the medicine cabinet and found the Kodin tablets. They made him happy, almost happy.
“I sat there and then the twin towers fell down and got in a better and better mood. As the big global disaster occurred, my own personal disaster began.
Of course, he was finally revealed. Lost the authorization as a nurse but was still relieved. He realized the extent of the abuse that had been going on for three years now, and knew it would kill him if he had been arrested.
He escaped home to the mother of Seljord and entered the boy’s room to lick his wounds, as he says. He is welcome to both the mother and the church. You can not be excluded by Jehovah’s Witnesses for as long as you are not baptized, which Kim Leine is not. Thus he went home and sought refuge there.
Here he started at the book Kalak (can be translated by “a bedright greener”). It came out in 2007 after moving back to Denmark. Then came Valdemarsdag and Tunu. In three years he gave three critically acclaimed books.
He says he does not care so much about free imagination, but that’s not why the first he wrote is about his own reality.
“Those books were the necessary settlement with myself. The main cleaning needed before I could write a big epic novel.
His fourth book, the prophets of the Evighetsfjord, came last year and is based on historical events, but is otherwise pure fiction. It is the first part of a trilogy, and that is the one he has nominated for the Nordic Council Literature Prize.
“Apart from the topic of rebirth, and that the protagonist Morten Falck travels from Norway via Denmark and to Greenland, there are few similarities between him and me,” said Kim Leine.
The book is about freedom. A statement by the French philosopher Rousseau is central to the book: “Man is born freely and everywhere is in chains.”
“We have all our links to fight with. There is a duality in almost everything in life. To have children, for example, puts one in links, but also gives freedom in the sense that they are given descendants and experience the uncompromising love. As humans we have to unite things that can not be united. Freedom and freedom. It’s about getting these two elements at least to balance. Only then can you live well with the impossible paradox of life.
The father of Kim Leine is the only one not mentioned with the correct name in the book Kalak, but he reacted strongly to the book when it came out in 2007 and thought it would have catastrophic consequences for him. He refused to have exposed the child to sexual abuse, but claimed that the scope was not as great as the one shown in the book. The father is 77 years old and still lives in Copenhagen. As long as a book is classified as a novel, one can not go to court or get a book stopped in Denmark.
* all translations provided on JWBulletin.com are for information purposes only and are sourced from automated translation services. These are not checked for accuracy. To ensure accuracy, please refer to the original language text.