Down to the dogs

2008  novel

Read an excerpt

cover: Neel Dich Abrahamsen

  A woman steps off a bus to find a quiet spot for a cry. A friendly couple, John and Putte, take her home and put her up on their sofa. John and Putte with their neck sprains and their odd jobs, whose lives are so similar to, and yet so very different from the one she now seems to have left behind. Everything looks so ordinary on the outside, but beneath the surface something is wrong. With an astonishingly keen eye for the realities of everyday life, Helle Helle depicts with warmth and cutting humour a woman’s nervous breakdown on the geographical and social fringe.

Down to the Dogs was shortlisted for the Nordic Council Literature Prize 2009.

DANISH PRESS on Down to the Dogs

»If Helle’s previous novel, the prize-winning Rødby-Puttgarden was an astonishing, joyful read, then her new work can only be described as a shameless delight […] Helle edges herself so very, very close to self-parody that Down to the Dogs becomes her finest achievement yet, and triumphantly funny.«
- Lars Bukdahl, Weekendavisen

»Dialogue is Helle’s strongest force. There is not a false note anywhere. Right up there with Herman Bang, Helle Helle is Danish literature’s most finely tuned ear.«
- Dag Heede, Standard

»As we have come to expect, the emotions are all between the lines, accumulating page by page within the reader, until at last I was left with the sense that this was perhaps the most moving novel I have read in a very long time […] Only seldom do I encounter a book that reminds me of what it was that drove me into the arms of literature in the first place. Down to the Dogs is one of them.«
- Lilian Munk Rösing, Information

»Helle Helle’s prose is cut like a diamond and brims with the casual turns of everyday language to which her masterful ear – like Herman Bang’s – is so keenly tuned, replete with implicit meanings building piece by piece into ever larger patterns as the novel progresses […] Helle Helle adds a whole new dimension to Danish realism, and one can only admire the exquisiteness and sheer restraint of her voice. Helle brings everyman to the fore, turning the very notion on its head.«
- May Schack, Politiken

»One can admire the author’s increasing ability to sympathise and empathise without resort to over-interpretation. One can feast on the sheer coolness of the graphic design, imagine little people going in and out of houses, moving along roads, negotiating roundabouts and turning into driveways. I did it all – and revelled in this fourth novel by one of our finest living prose writers.«
- Jon Helt Haarder, Jyllands-Posten

»Helle Helle writes minimalistic masterpieces in seemingly simple, compressed prose, incredibly full of subtexts.«
- Per Olov Enquist