Thomas D. Kennedy; writer in Copenhagen

tekcarlos.jpgSometimes it takes an expat to highlight the cultural and social characteristics of a country. This is because ‘they’, who are initially ‘outsiders’ in that country, are used to viewing life relative and contrary to where they came from.

Today I came across an essay titled ‘Life in another Language’, by the writer Thomas E. Kennedy. It is a witty and concise account of life in Denmark, as seen by an expatriate living here for three decades. Kennedy touches on aspects of Danish mantality, and cultural quirks in the Danish language that demonstrate how people think, and believe. He also describes the good life, the bad life, social rituals, irony, the Jante law ( a Danish way of thinking that can otherwise be interpreted as the ‘tall poppy syndrome’) and contradicts this with aspects of life in New York city, where he lived previously. I found myself nodding in agreement at every paragraph to this essay and simultaneously learning more about the place I have lived in, for the past three and a half years.

Kennedy is the also author of four interconnecting novels, The Copenhagen quartet, linked by structure, and each set in a different season. For this work based on life in the Danish Capital, Kennedy has been likened to ‘James Joyce’s Dublin’. Kennedy draws on the impact of the changing seasonal light in this Northern country, that is something everyone feels profoundly. The moods of each season can be contradicted, and can lead from one to another with hope and yearning.

Here is an excerpt from ‘Bluett’s blue hours’ Book II of the Copenhagen Quartet:

‘Tightening the fur collar around his throat, he steps up onto the embankment, tries to stamp warmth back into his soles, crosses to the Front Page Café, nearly empty at this hour. L’heure bleu comes charitably early at this parallel in winter. Eyeglasses steaming and nose running in the sudden heat, he strips off his coat and scarf and gloves and Kangol, mops nose and lenses with a clean white handkerchief, and proceeds to the bar.’

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3 Responses to “Thomas D. Kennedy; writer in Copenhagen”


  1. 1 aaron78 September 28, 2007 at 12:57 pm

    Keep meaning to buy these novels but never get round to it. Soon though!

  2. 2 John October 1, 2007 at 7:09 am

    Such beautiful descriptive language… it seems to draw you into itself in only a paragraph


  1. 1 Russell Quinn » Blog Archive » Xenophobia Trackback on September 29, 2007 at 6:25 pm

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