This Should Be Written in the Present Tense (Paperback)

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By Helle Helle, Martin Aitken (Translated by)
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Staff Reviews

There's a spare yet unfiltered quality to Helle Helle's prose which, when you get the hang of it, is a brilliant reflection of the desultory young narrator. As she navigates Denmark's landscapes, train stations & department stores, a bird call or lost picnic basket make random appearances & are given the same weight as a funeral or break-up. Recommended to fans of Sheila Heti's How Should A Person Be?, Lydia Davis's The End of the Story, Jenny Offill's Dept. of Speculation.


— From This Should Be Written in the Present Tense


Dorte is twenty and adrift, pretending to study literature at Copenhagen University. In reality she is riding the trains and clocking up random encounters in her new home by the railway tracks. She remembers her ex, Per – the first boyfriend she tells us about, and the first she leaves – as she enters a new world of transient relationships, random sexual experiences and awkward attempts to write.

About the Author

Helle Helle published her first book in 1993. Since then, her work has garnered overwhelming critical and popular acclaim. Recently awarded the Golden Laurel literary prize, Helle Helle is the recipient of countless literary accolades, among them the Danish Critics’ Prize, the Danish Academy’s Beatrice Prize, the P.O. Enquist Award and the prestigious Lifetime Award of the Danish Arts Council. Her novels and short stories have been translated into fifteen languages. She lives in Denmark.

Martin Aitken is the acclaimed translator of numerous novels from Danish, including works by Peter Høeg, Jussi Adler-Olsen and Pia Juul, and his translations of short stories and poetry have appeared in many literary journals and magazines. In 2012 he was awarded the American-Scandinavian Foundation’s Nadia Christensen Translation Prize.

Praise For…

"The quiet and immersive Scandinavian setting, a back-and-forth pace, and the charming, interruptible monotony of companionable narrator Dorte’s day-to-day life make Helle’s tale a natural choice for those who favor frame over traditional plot." —Booklist

"Helle Helle’s simple, to-the-point prose cuts to the quick…it’s refreshing to find such an intimate book that leaves something for the reader to writer in their own mind…This Should be Written in the Present Tense is a contemporary classic in the making' —Emma Nicklin, Stylist

"A book with all the bigness hidden away." —John Self, The Guardian

"Compelling." —Emerald Street

"There is so much in this book, so much hinted at and alluded to. So much going on off-screen. [...] One of the literary finds of the year." —Bookmunch

"A beautiful evocation of the reckless naïveté of the early years of adulthood. [Helle Helle's] pared back style gives the novel a haunting quality, exquisitely reflecting the detachment and doubts of the protagonist's life. […] This is a highly recommended introduction to the work of a talented new name on the European literary scene." —Book Trust

"Some pieces of literature, no matter how great an effort you make as a critic, cannot be opened or captured in a way that does justice to the work. That’s how I feel about Helle Helle’s new and unusually precious novel... Most of the sentences are small works of art, containing a whole story in themselves." —Weekendavisen

Product Details
ISBN: 9781593766337
ISBN-10: 1593766335
Publisher: Soft Skull
Publication Date: January 12th, 2016
Pages: 208
Language: English