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This Should Be Written in the Present Tense

A Novel

List Price: $15.95

January 12, 2016 | Paperback | 6 x 9, 208 Pages | ISBN 9781593766337

“[A] realism that is at once technically stringent and mordantly amusing.” —Kirkus


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.

A short mesmerizing novel written in Helle’s classic minimal style — reminiscent, critics have said, of Raymond Carver, Mike Leigh, and Ali Smith — with a new translation from Martin Aitken. This Should Be Written in the Present Tense is a unique story filled with warm dead-pan wit and tender insight — a novel for anyone who has ever been young, sleepless, and a little reckless, trying to figure it all out.

HELLE HELLE is Denmark’s foremost modern novelist and its most popular. She has been awarded many prizes including the Danish Critics’ Prize, the Danish Academy Beatrice Prize, and the P O Enquist Award. She is a bestseller in Denmark, and she was recently given the Lifetime Award of the Danish Arts Council. Her work has been translated into thirteen languages. This Should Be Written in the Present Tense is her first novel to be translated into English. She lives in a forest in the countryside of Sealand, Denmark.

MARTIN AITKEN (translator) is an acclaimed translator of Danish literature. Recent books include works by Dorthe Nors, Peter Hoeg, and Helle Helle. He lives in rural Denmark.


“[A] realism that is at once technically stringent and mordantly amusing.” —Kirkus

“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.” —Stylist

“A book with all the bigness hidden away” —The Guardian

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