A Place Nowhere

Birte Kont

translated from the Danish by Nina Sokol


ISBN  978-1-952419-75-1          282 pages           $20.00


Birte Kont has written an excellent bildingsroman about a Jewish girl’s coming of age in the 1950’s and '60´s. It is a brutal story of the inevitable cost of silence when grown-ups choose to protect themselves from the painful task of unravelling their past. But it is also an entertaining story about growing up as a child and youth in Copenhagen during the 1960’s.

   Marie Louise Kjølbye, Information


Even in an international context the novel’s portrayal of the Jewish silence after the War and the impact that silence had on the next generation is of extreme relevance today. The novel is truly an impressive piece of work.

   Moritz Schramm, Kristeligt Dagblad


A fine narration about what it means to be homeless in one’s own home and finding one’s identity in the deep roots of history. Though the theme of the novel is serious Birte Kont has equipped her protagonist with a well-developed sense of humor, particularly when it comes to the many comical paradoxes that arise due to the family’s restriction of certain topics and their simultaneous tendency to talk endlessly without really saying anything at all.

   Henriette Bacher Lind, Jyllands-Posten


It’s an impressive piece of work. The fact that the novel is a portrayal of that which is left untold and the crucial role it plays for our nameless protagonist is precisely what makes Birte Kont’s novel so special. It is empathic yet at the same time perceptive while never betraying the people nor the environment it depicts. It also extends far beyond the ordinary portrayal of what it means to be of a minority group and deals with an aspect of human existence that is universal, which is what lifts A Place Nowhere above most other novels this season.

   Christina Blangstrup Dahl, Frederiksborg Amts Avis


An excellent little bildingsroman that is filled both with humor and insight. Birte Kont has written an excellent novel about a childhood amongst traumatized Danish Jews. The basic theme of the book addresses the necessity of knowing one’s own history in order to not only embrace it but also have the ability to get on with one’s life.

    Marie Tetzlaff, Politiken


A beautiful and clever book about a girl who finally manages to find herself, her lineage and her closest family. In general, Birte Kont artfully manages to provide a precise and convincing depiction of her characters, and almost always with a twinkle in her eye.

   Jens Henneberg, Nordjyske Stiftstidende


A beautiful, sensual novel about a little girl who, due to a misunderstood view on protection on the part of her family, is kept unaware of her Jewish family’s past.

   Lektør Per Månson



Birte Kont is the former chief editor of the Danish Jewish Community’s monthly magazine, as well as a writer and woman of letters. Using her Master’s thesis on Franz Kafka as her point of departure, she wrote Kafka’s Guilt Identity: a Modern Jewish Skeptic Wrestles with the Law, which was published in 2002, and she received a work grant in 2000 and in 2003 from the Danish Arts Council for cultural essay writing. She has participated in, among other things, the Kafka’s Matliary Festival in 2008 in Slovakia, where she gave lectures, as well as in the Kafka Marathon in LiteraturHaus in Copenhagen in 2009. She debuted as a fiction writer in 2011 with the novel  En by i Rusland (A Place Nowhere), and in 2012 received a work grant from the Danish Arts Council for fiction writing. The novel was re-published in 2015 as an e-book. She is a member of the board for Fiction Writers in the Danish Writers Guild.

Nina Sokol is a poet and translator in the midst of translating novels, short stories, plays and poems by Danish writers. She was a grant poet-in-residence at The Vermont Studio Center in 2011. She has received several grants from the Danish Arts Council to translate plays, including a play written by the fairy tale writer H.C. Andersen which was published by the journal InTranslation. She has also translated an excerpt from one of the winning novels of last year’s EU Prize for Literature (Danish, 2016) as well as translated such authors Niviaq Korneliussen and Bjørn Rasmussen. Her own poems have appeared in American journals, including Miller’s Pond and the  Hiram Poetry Review, and a collection was published by Lapwing Publications in Belfast, Ireland (2015).