SH Art Award for Bestselling Author Dörte Hansen

a model. To write, she doesn’t need the expansive view and northern sky, which she usually enjoys on the North Sea coast – and is also valued as a primary source of inspiration. Dörte Hansen prefers to sit in her under-ceiling writing room in Husum with a view of the blank wall. A projection surface of the interior images from which her narratives emerge. The writer, who is now receiving the €20,000 State Art Prize in Kiel, has been living with her family in the city where she was born ten years ago.

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Read more after the announcement

On the phone, she says, “With every book I find it hard to find the tone I want, and when I write, I think it can never end. It’s a bit like endurance running.” Over and over again, you rearrange sentences, words and syllables on the computer, repeat, repeat puzzles, and listen to the sound of the language.

Writer Dorty Hansen between the film, the new book and the awards ceremony

This is how “Altes Land” and “Mittagsstunden” arose. As well as the third novel “Zor Si”, which will be released by Penguin on September 28. Language and character are more important to Hansen’s two cycles than plot. “Language defines our affiliation,” says the linguist, who not only puts machine guns of low German in the mouths of her silent protagonists, but also speaks it at home with her husband and daughter. It simply says, “It’s my mother tongue.” “And the only thing you can do about her disappearance is talk to her children.”

Read more after the announcement

Read more after the announcement

She’s in a turbulent year: as Mainz town clerk, she’s just accustomed to the mild climate and will soon celebrate the premiere of her book. With Lars Jessen’s film adaptation of “The Midday Hour,” in which the recognized lone wolf learns teamwork. And now the awards ceremony in Kiel. It’s an important award for her—just because “a lot of the people I get enjoy with it”: Doris Runge, Yoshin Mesfeldt, Lars Jessen, and Feridun Zaimoglu.

I learned teamwork on location, says Dorty Hansen—here with director Lars Jessen while filming “Mittagsstunden” in Sollerup near Flensburg.

It is the scattered, fragile and at the same time charged tone that creates the special tone of Dörte Hansen’s books. Also in “Zur See” she creates an atmosphere of weather and society in this way, exposing cracks in the lives of her characters.

This time it is an island family, descendants of whalers and sailors, each searching for their place in their own way. The sailor who remained on the shore after experiencing the “white wall” of a giant wave. The brother who turns flotsam into art, the sister who hears and preserves their North Sea language testimonials from the ancient. Or the hippie-inspired mom who keeps the deeply estranged family together in her own way. He is tied up in a very solid web of mutual hurt, affection and a shared history.

The original theme permeates all Dörte Hansen . books

And upon reading, the unknown island seems as familiar as all the North Frisian Islands, Halligen, and Heligoland combined. Dörte Hansen says: “I build my place from several places, I search for what is typical. This gives me complete freedom in my imagination.” Concretely, this creates the startling approximation in which Hansen’s stories flourish – and which makes her characters vaguely understandable. Fits this island shape; She is interested in the mythical aspect, the idea of ​​origin and character, that she disassembles in this family: “The question is: Are we really that made up – or is it just a story we tell ourselves over and over again?”

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Read more after the announcement

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The thread runs as a red thread through her. Like breaking points over time. First with the war refugees of the old country, then with the innkeepers from Brinkpool (“midday hour”), whose inn and the old village disappeared with the consolidation of the land. In “Zur See”, nautical stereotypes and myths became a bestseller in tourism. “I am interested in what happens when old certainties are not in place, and what these political and social changes do to the individual,” says the former NDR journalist.

At the beginning of the novel, the 57-year-old said she had no story at all, more like “a tangle of questions – very puzzling”. She only finds out where she’s heading when she “untangles it”: “When writing,” she laughs, “I make my way across a continent for which there is no map.”

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