It’s lovely to have a female author on our list again. It’s been a while. In fact, from the eight Peirene authors so far published, only three are women. Veronique Olmi and Maria Barbal in 2010 and now Pia Juul.
Pia is Danish. She has won numerous prizes for her five poetry collections, has written award-winning short story collections and plays. She is a member of the prestigious Danish Academy and has translated Ted Hughes, Sylvia Plath and Ali Smith into Danish. And in 2009 she published her second novel, Mordet pa Halland, for which she won the Danske Bank Litteraturpris.
The Murder of Halland will be in UK bookshops in June. But our susbscribers received the book two weeks ago, on a Friday. By Monday, the first reader reactions arrived via twitter and email. “Brilliant”,“gripping”. My top reaction is this: “What a treat this is – I am going to read it again before the salon. This book had me texting back and forth with a friend who is also a Peirene subscriber the night I finished and then had to wait for him to finish and we were going on and on – I think that is a sign of a very good and provoking book!”
At a drinks party during the London Bookfair, I met a Danish publisher (not Pia’s). I told him that I am very much looking forward to the publication of Peirene’s first Danish crime novella. He looked at me horrified: “Does Pia know you market her book as crime fiction?” I calmed him down. Pia is delighted. We had spoken about it in February when I met her in Copenhagen.
Last Wednesday, Pia came to London for the European Literature Night 2012 to be interviewed by BBC journalist Rosie Goldsmith. Pia hit the stage with the claim ‘this is not a crime novel’ and then spent the rest of the interview dropping hints about how much she knew about crime fiction. She had the audience in stitches and when she finally read an extract you could have heard a needle drop.
“I figured Pia’s clever and a great writer,” Peirene said the next day. “But I didn’t realize how witty she can be. What a thrill to have finally a woman with a good sense of humour on board.”
“What do you mean “finally”? I wanted to know.
“Well, you often lack humour.”
“No, I don’t.” I felt hurt. “To work with you needs a fair amount of humour, I can tell you that much.”
“There! I’ve proven my point, you’re having a sense of humour failure right this very moment.” Peirene grinned at me. “I am really looking forward to Pia’s events in June. Some good fun at last.”
P.S The photo shows Agatha Christie. Image by PBoGS.