Virtual Danish Book Club and Literary Event Series

  • September 21, 2021
  • (PDT)
  • December 16, 2021
  • (PST)
  • 7 sessions
  • September 21, 2021, 10:00 AM (PDT)
  • October 12, 2021, 5:00 PM (PDT)
  • October 19, 2021, 10:00 AM (PDT)
  • November 16, 2021, 5:00 PM (PST)
  • November 23, 2021, 10:00 AM (PST)
  • December 14, 2021, 5:00 PM (PST)
  • December 16, 2021, 10:00 AM (PST)
  • Virtual Event


All who are interested in Danish literature are invited to join several Danish American organizations for a series of online events beginning this fall. Current and classic works of Danish literature will be read and discussed, accompanied by author and special guest interviews; all events will take place in the English language. The virtual events will begin in September and continue each month until May of 2022; Book Club events will take place as Zoom meetings with participation open to all, and Literary Event Series will take place as webinars or pre-recorded discussions.

Moderator for the Book Club discussions will be University of Wisconsin-Madison Scandinavian Studies Department Faculty Associate Nete Schmidt. The Literary Event Series is a collaboration between American-Scandinavian Foundation, Museum of Danish America, and The National Nordic Museum. Facilitator for the Museum of Danish America Conversation With The Author events will be former Lecturer of Danish at the University of Washington, and columnist at the Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten, Désirée Ohrbeck.

September 21 Literary Event
This Should Be Written in the Present Tense
 by Helle Helle (2011)

Simulcast on Facebook and YouTube
Tuesday, September 21, 2021
10 am Pacific / 1 pm Eastern

Event series facilitator Désirée Ohrbeck will be talking to Claus Elholm Andersen, Ph.D., the Paul and Renate Madsen Assistant Professor of Scandinavian Studies at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Andersen has written extensively on the Danish contemporary writer Helle Helle and in 2018 edited a special issue about her writings for Spring, a scholarly journal.

Désirée Ohrbeck is a former Visiting Lecturer of Danish (2010-2016) for the Scandinavian Studies Department at the University of Washington, now serving on its advisory board. She is a columnist for the Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten and a frequent contributor in Danish media.

Watch this conversation for free on Facebook or YouTube, hosted virtually by the Museum of Danish America. Direct links will be available closer to the event date. 

Click here if you’d like to be sent a reminder email in advance:

The autumn 2021 tentative schedule looks like this; more information will be available closer to the dates:

September - This Should be Written in the Present Tense by Helle Helle
Dorte is 20 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.
Tuesday September 14 5:00PM PDT/8:00PM EDT - Book Club group discussion 
Tuesday September 21 10:00AM PDT/1:00PM EDT - Discussion TBD

October - The Employees by Olga Ravn
Structured as a series of witness statements compiled by a workplace commission, The Employees follows the crew of the Six-Thousand Ship which consists of those who were born, and those who were made, those who will die, and those who will not. When the ship takes on a number of strange objects from the planet New Discovery, the crew is perplexed to find itself becoming deeply attached to them, and human and humanoid employees alike start aching for the same things: warmth and intimacy, loved ones who have passed, shopping and child-rearing, our shared, far-away Earth, which now only persists in memory.
Tuesday October 12 5:00PM PDT/8:00PM EDT - Book Club group discussion 
Tuesday October 19 10:00AM PDT/1:00PM EDT - Conversation With The Author - Pre-recorded (American Scandinavian Foundation) Interview with Olga Ravn

November - Victim 2117 by Jussi Adler-Olsen
Jussi Adler-Olsen is Denmark’s #1 crime writer and a New York Times bestselling author. His books routinely top the bestseller lists in Europe and have sold more than 24 million copies around the world.  In Victim 2117, readers finally learn the backstory of Assad, the mysterious middle easterner who is oneofthe 4 detectives which constitute Department Q.
Tuesday November 16 5:00PM PST/8:00PM EST - Book Club group discussion 
Tuesday November 23 10:00AM PST/1:00PM EST - Conversation With The Author (Author Interview)

December - Babette’s Feast by Isak Dinesen (Karen Blixen)
Denmark, 1870s. Two deeply religious elderly sisters living in an isolated village take in a French refugee from the Franco-Prussian war, Babette. She becomes their housekeeper and is happy to work for no pay. Fourteen years later, Babette wins a large amount of money in a lottery. The event coincides with the 100th anniversary of the birth of the sisters' father, a devout Christian minister who had a great following in the village. Babette decides to throw a great dinner for the remaining followers to honor the occasion. One thing: the dinner will be French, and once the ingredients start to arrive, the unsophisticated villagers suspect that something unholy is about to take place.
Tuesday December 14 5:00PM PST/8:00PM EST - Book Club group discussion 
Thursday December 16 10:00AM PST/1:00PM EST - Conversation With The Author (Special guest interview)

See complete details for the monthly group discussions on the Northwest Danish Association website here - also on the Museum of Danish America website here -

The 2022 (January-May) books and guests will soon be determined.  Books will be available for purchase through independent booksellers, and digital versions may also be available through online resellers.  Please contact one of the participating organizations if you have difficulty purchasing one of the selections.  Please watch for further announcements along with the Zoom link from the participating organizations:

  • American-Scandinavian Foundation and Scandinavia House - New York
  • Embassy of Denmark - Washington D.C.
  • Museum of Danish America - Elk Horn, Iowa
  • National Foundation for Danish America - Chicago
  • National Nordic Museum - Seattle
  • Northwest Danish Association - Seattle
  • Scan Design Foundation - Seattle
  • University of Washington Scandinavian Studies
  • University of Wisconsin Scandinavian Studies

Désirée Ohrbeck served as a Danish Lecturer at the Scandinavian Studies Department at University of Washington from 2010-2016 years. She is now a proud board member for University of Washington Scandinavian Studies Advisory Board.

Désirée is also a columnist writer for the Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten and a frequent contributor in Danish media both on TV and radio. She has written op-eds, commentaries, and essays for Politiken, Berlingske Tidende and Jyllands-Posten. 

“I am not afraid to reflect on and ask questions centering around life choices, culture and religion, something I intend to utilize in my interviews with Danish authors. I am straight forward, and it is important to me to deal with topics in a way that is focused on bringing everyone in on the conversation in dealing with topics that affects all people. What better place to do this than in a conversation about literature?”

Nete Schmidt, a native of Aarhus, received her degrees in English and Danish from the University of Copenhagen and taught at Bjerringbro Junior College and the University of Aarhus for many years. She came to the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 1998, and following eight years as Visiting Assistant Professor, she became a Faculty Associate in the Scandinavian Studies Unit in the Department of German, Nordic, and Slavic (GNS). She has been teaching Danish and Scandinavian Literature courses such as The Tales of Hans Christian Andersen, Criminal utopias, and Sexual Politics in Scandinavia.

In 2008, she started The Danish Book Club in Madison, and it is still going strong.  She is also a member of several other book clubs and thoroughly enjoys reading and discussing literature.

She hopes that the National Danish Book Club will provide its participants with a number of interesting, thought-provoking, new, and old books to read and discuss.  And discussion and participation in a very relaxed manner is definitely an important aspect.  Everybody is invited to share thoughts and ideas in a non-judgmental, non-biased, respectful, and very open setting, so every book club will be a different experience depending on the participants and their views. There is, of course, no obligation to participate if one is more inclined to listen and absorb the opinions of others, but rather than lecturing or teaching, there will be open discussion.  As always, with literature, there are no right or wrong thoughts or answers; what matters is interest, engagement, and a willingness to share one’s thoughts.

National Foundation for Danish America
PO Box 1003
Wilmette, Illinois 60091

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