Guest 2010, 2012, 2013.

Janne Teller [ Denmark ]

Janne Teller was born in 1964 in Copenhagen but has Austrian and German roots. After graduating in Political Economy from the University of Copenhagen in 1988, and before focusing solely on her writing in 1995, she worked with conflict resolution, humanitarian assistance and development in many countries around the world, from Bangladesh to Zimbabwe, including a few years in Mozambique and Tanzania. She has also lived in France, Belgium and Italy. Janne Teller has published novels, numerous short stories and political-philosophical essays, and her controversial literature often sparks heated discussions.

Her début, the contemporary Nordic saga »Odins Ø« (1999; Engl. »Odin's Island«, 2006) was lauded by critics. Major themes in the author's later works are already apparent here, including religious and political fanaticism and the social responsibilities of the individual and the community. Her novel »Intet« (2000; Engl. »Nothing«, 2010), for young adults, further explores the meaning of life and the origins of meaning, as well as individual and social values. In this tale, she poses the provocative question of whether our conventionally accepted understanding of »meaning« is not actually an illusion, and by no means something supra-individual, and that it maybe does not even possess an objective reality. »Nothing means anything, so it's not worth doing anything.« With these words the schoolboy Pierre-Anthon brings his home's small-town idyll crashing down in a matter of minutes, and sparks off a series of events during the course of which his fellow pupils back up their words with brutal violence as they try to coerce deviant pupils back into line with behavioural norms. With »Kattens tramp« (2004, tr: Europe. All that you lack) she expands her thematic range to include aspects of European identity, and the meaning of history in times of war and peace, told through a tragic love story. With her most recent novel, »Kom« (2008, tr: Come) she asks us to consider the boundaries of free expression as well as the freedom to make ethical choices in our contemporary, competition-driven civilisation.

In addition to other national and international prizes, Janne Teller’s novel for young adults, »Intet«, which was even censored for a time, was shortly afterwards awarded the Best Children's Book Prize in 2001 by the Danish Ministry for Culture, and also won the prestigious Le Prix Libbylit in 2008 as best children's book from the Francophone regions, and in 2011 the American Michael L. Printz Award. Janne Teller lives in New York.

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