Peter Høeg

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Peter Høeg
Peter Høeg.jpg
Born (1957-05-17) 17 May 1957 (age 65)
Genrefiction, recent history

Peter Høeg (born 17 May 1957)[1] is a Danish writer of fiction. He is best known for his novel, Miss Smilla's Feeling for Snow (1992).

Early life[edit]

Høeg was born in Copenhagen, Denmark. Before becoming a writer, he worked variously as a sailor, ballet dancer and actor (in addition to fencing and mountaineering)—experiences that he uses in his novels. He received a Master of Arts in Literature from the University of Copenhagen in 1984.


Peter Høeg published his first novel, A History of Danish Dreams, in 1988 to very positive reviews. He decided at that stage to protect his personal life.[2] Over the next five years he wrote and published the short story collection Tales of Night, and the novels: Miss Smilla's Feeling for Snow (1992), Borderliners (1993). It was Miss Smilla's Feeling for Snow that earned Høeg immediate and international literary celebrity.[citation needed] In 1993 he won the Danish booksellers award De Gyldne Laurbær (The Golden Laurel) and the Danish Critics Prize for Literature[3] for his book De måske egnede (English title: Borderliners).[4]

Høeg virtually disappeared in 1996 after the lukewarm reception of The Woman and the Ape.[5]

Return and The Quiet Girl controversy[edit]

Høeg resurfaced in 2006 with The Quiet Girl, his first novel in 10 years. At the time of its publication, reception in Denmark was mixed at best, and the novel was generally disregarded as being either too complex or too postmodern.[6]

Høeg was surprised by response and has since said the complexity of the book was nowhere near that of films like Inception or Memento.[2] Norwegian author Jan Kjærstad defended the book, saying: "it surprises me that a novel written by someone of Peter Høeg’s calibre, with such great intelligence, so much thought and originality, should be treated to such outpourings of pettiness and virulence. How could such a rollicking, generous, open book be greeted with so much gravity and severity, such closed minds and again: in my broad-minded old Denmark?"[7]

In October 2007, the Danish literary critic Poul Behrendt published a book entitled Den Hemmelige Note: Ti kapitler om små ting der forandrer alt (The Secret Note: Ten chapters on little things that change everything), in which he explains that the cold reception of The Quiet Girl was due to its complexity and scope which the critics, according to Behrendt, didn't understand.[8][citation needed]

In 2014, his latest book, The Susan Effect (Effekten af Susan) was published in Denmark. The book is described by The Economist as a "high-concept thriller" featuring social breakdown, environmental disaster, and atomic weapons in rogue hands.[9]


Peter Høeg (2012)

Høeg has a reputation for being hard to place in terms of literary style. All his works are stylistically very different from one another, and have been labelled postmodern, gothic, magical-realist, to mention a few. While Miss Smilla, for instance, was classified as Nordic noir,[10] The Susan Effect featured magical elements such as in the case of the Svendsen family, which possessed one superpower or another in the narrative.[11] There is a thread to be found, however, in terms of theme; Høeg's work often seems to deal with the consequences of the progress of civilisation.[12]

In an interview, Høeg said that he follows a contemplative approach to his writing practices and this involved a pattern "of meditating, then writing, then meditating and then writing again."[13]

Personal life[edit]

Høeg grew up in Copenhagen and lives now in Nørre Snede in Jutland.[14][15] He has four children.[16][17][18] In 1996 he established the Lolwe foundation which provides financial assistance to women and children in the third world, especially in Africa and Tibetan exile areas.[19]


Høeg's books are published in Denmark by Munksgaard/Rosinante, now a part of Blackwell Publishing, and have also been published in more than 30 other countries.


  1. ^ Blumberg, Naomi. "Peter Høeg". Encyclopædia Britannica. Retrieved 9 November 2015.
  2. ^ a b House, Christian. "A Page in the Life: Peter Hoeg". TelegraphChristian House. Retrieved 3 June 2015.
  3. ^ Kritikerprisen
  4. ^ De Gyldne Laurbær
  5. ^ Archived 26 December 2014 at the Wayback Machine written by Pia Andersen Høg in Dagbladet Information, 2011 (in Danish)
  6. ^ Juul, Marianne, (Translated by John Mason). "Peter Høeg: Breaks the Silence". Danish Literary Magazine. Fall 2006. Archived 5 July 2007 at
  7. ^ Kjærstad, Jan. Politiken. 3 June 2006.
  8. ^ Skriver, Svend. Ekstra Bladet. "Oprejsning til Peter Høeg". 21 October 2007. Archived 23 October 2007 at the Wayback Machine
  9. ^ "Peter Hoeg's new novel is a high-concept thriller". Retrieved 25 March 2020 – via The Economist.
  10. ^ Pavone, Chris (19 July 2018). "Nordic Noir, in the Horn of Africa". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 15 February 2019.
  11. ^ "Peter Høeg: The Susan Effect review - Nordic noir turns surreal". Retrieved 15 February 2019.
  12. ^ Egesholm, Christian. "Peter Høeg". Danish Literary Magazine. Fall 2007.[dead link]
  13. ^ House, Christian (10 October 2012). "A Page in the Life: Peter Hoeg". Telegraph. ISSN 0307-1235. Retrieved 15 February 2019.
  14. ^ Bjørnkjær, Kirsten (25 August 2005). "Fanden løs i Nørre Snede" (in Danish). Information. Retrieved 9 November 2015.
  15. ^ Kristensen, Kim (23 January 2015). "Peter Høeg skal være skolelærer i Nørre Snede" (in Danish). Mediehuset Herning Folkeblad. Retrieved 9 November 2015.
  16. ^ Bangsgaard, Jeppe (16 May 2014). "»Jeg fortryder intet«" (in Danish). Berlingske. Retrieved 9 November 2015.
  17. ^ "Forfatter Peter Høeg" (in Danish). Rosinante & Co. Retrieved 9 November 2015.
  18. ^ Hansen, Frank Sebastian (3 September 2010). "Peter Høeg: Mit liv matcher ikke myten" (in Danish). Ekstra Bladet. Retrieved 9 November 2015.
  19. ^ "Tema Danske forfattere - Peter Høeg" (in Danish). Retrieved 9 November 2015.
  20. ^ "Effekten af Susan af Peter Høeg" (in Danish). 27 May 2014. Archived from the original on 23 November 2015. Retrieved 9 November 2015.

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