Naja Marie Aidt
Naja Marie Aidt was born in 1963 in Greenland, where her father worked as a teacher. In 1970, the family moved to Copenhagen. As a young teenager, Aidt became involved in the Youth League of the Communist Party of Denmark.
In 1991, she published her debut volume of poetry, »Så længe jeg er ung« (tr: While I’m Still Young). It deals with the transformation from child to young adult, while her two next poetry collections (1992, 1994) discuss oppressive and unbearable family conflicts and partnerships. The short story collections »Vandmaerket« (1993; tr: The Watermark) and »Tilgang« (1995; tr: Access) both deal with states of loneliness and isolation. In 2006, her story collection »Bavian« (Eng. »Baboon«, 2014) was published, and earned Aidt the Danish Critics Prize and the Nordic Council Prize for Literature. In fifteen stories, Aidt dissects modern man, his abysses and insecurities, with great laconism. Her first novel, »Sten saks papir« (2012; Eng. »Rock, Paper, Sissors«, 2015), to which the »Süddeutsche Zeitung« attested an »nightmarish urgency«, tells the story of Thomas, a character with both feet on the ground. A single wrong decision, however, steers his fate in the wrong direction and awakens the ghosts of his past. Thomas has to realize: »I only ever have one foot in this world. I play myself in this world. But I am merely what I play.« He stumbles, guided by a love-hate relationship with his deceased father, toward a catastrophe that Aidt stages in a psychologically convincing manner. The »Tagesspiegel« described the novel as a »chamber piece of emotions« and a »theatre of the world« that exposes the fractures of human existence and self-alienation. In March 2015, Aidt’s son died in an accident. »Har døden taget noget fra dig så giv det tilbage – Carls bog« (2017; Eng. »When Death Takes Something from You Give It Back: Carl’s Book«, 2019) describes the first year after that devastating phone call, the news of Carl’s accident, until the shock slowly wears off. It is at once a sober account of life after losing a child – showing how grief transforms your relationship to reality, your loved ones, yourself, and time – and a book about the language of poetry, loss and love. How do you approach the impossible to write about your deceased child? The book’s complex form enacts the rupture and process of assembling the pieces. There are short prose sections addressed to Carl and intense lyric passages. There are fragments from the present that merge with flashbacks and journal entries from the past and present. Quotes appear throughout from an array of literary voices, woven together with Naja Marie Aidt’s own voice. This multifarious book defies genre or any singular description.
Aidt is one of the most important literary voices in Scandinavia and has won many awards including the prestigious Søren Gyldendal-prisen and the Grand Prize of the Danish Academy. »When Death Takes Something From You Give It Back – Carl’s Book« was nominated for The National Book Award and shortlisted for the Kirkus Prize in the United States. Since 2008, Naja Marie Aidt lived in New York. She just moved back to Copenhagen.