One of us is sleeping

Shortlisted for the Nordic Council Literature Prize

Shortlisted for Læsernes Bogpris (The Readers’ Award)

On the official Danish list of bestsellers

“One of Us is Sleeping is a novel about leaving and being left behind; a story about the unfolding of a relationship that insists on the necessity of sorrow. It is a novel about loss, homelessness, and light.” Josefine Klougart


One Of Us is Sleeping is Klougarts most ambitious work to date, widely regarded by Danish critics as a Masterpiece. Politiken, a major Danish newspaper, called it “a fascinating novel of love and loss”, while Berlingske Tidende referred to it as “one of this year’s great novels”. The book is nominated for the Nordic Council Literature Prize 2013 and The readers book Award 2012/13 and it is sold to several countries.

One of Us Is Sleeping is a novel of loss and sorrow, a novel that insists on the imperative of grief and the beauty of recollection. A novel about reconciliation (always ongoing) with the fleeting nature of possession, of what we believe will always be present in our lives: our parents, the home of our childhood, the people we love. It is a novel that is at once essay and poetry, brimming with keen observation and startling imagery.

While Klougart’s first novel Stigninger og Fald (Rise and Fall) (2010) depicted a Heimat, a geographical and psychological landscape formative of the human individual and her language, in One of Us Is Sleeping the notion of the homeland is constituted by the romantic relationship. A young woman is abandoned by a man with whom she has enjoyed a brief yet highly intense love affair. The loss she experiences compounds the recollection of a longer, likewise failed liaison. Stricken by grief and disillusion, the main character is thrust into a state of existential homelessness, the inevitable landscape into which we proceed on leaving childhood, broken only by the love affair, which briefly returns us home and makes us feel we belong, in the world, and in the gaze of the one we love.

In scenes of random chronology, One of Us Is Sleeping portrays the young woman’s time with her lover as well as with his “deceased” predecessor, at the same time pursuing a present-time narrative encompassing a journey back to the snow-covered landscape of childhood. Vivid depictions of nature interplay with dialogue and scenes from a life in love. And weaving its way throughout, the essayistic voice, a poetic deliberation on love, homelessness, death and solitude.

The mother in the childhood home is sick with cancer, past relinquishment thereby reflecting in future loss, the reader and the I of the narrator being confronted simultaneously with the unjust premise of existence: continuing loss. At the same time, the novel is a celebration of literature and beauty – in art, nature and love, the latter, while fleeting, nonetheless remaining eternal in recollection.

Praise for One of us is Sleeping:

“A masterpiece… one of this year’s great novels” —Berlingske Tidende

“A fascinating novel of love and loss… Klougart is a master” —Information

”I have never read any thing this beautyfull” – Svenska Dagbladet, Sweeden

“One of us is a stunning pearl of a book.” – Helsingbors Dagblad, Sweeden

“It is a narrative that leaves its mark in you the way only great literature does.” – Borås Tidning, Sweeden

“Masterly.” – Dagens Nyheder, Sweeden

“A shining book.” – Arbetarbladet, Sweeden

“Shines and touches.” – Smålandsposten, Sweede

“A thoughtful and sensitive novel” —Kristeligt Dagblad

“A strong and fascinating third novel (…) Klougart writes beautifully and insightfully about loss” – Politiken

”A masterpiece. (…) Josefine Klougart is probably the best young writer in Denmark … one of this year’s grand novels” —Berlingske

“Josefine Klougart masters the art of describing in words the expressions and impacts of existence”

– MetroExpress

“So incredibly well-written … a perfect work of art”

– Fredericia Dagblad

“A sparkling lyrical novel about the disintegration of a love affair.

Klougarts sensuous figurative language is brilliant with visual observations that leave a lasting imprint on the reader’s mind….” —Ekstrabladet

“An incredibly beautiful novel, talently written and filled with lyrical passages that weave their way in and out of the language. You rarely, or never, see a writer capable of using the Danish language this way. We might have to go all the way back to J.P. Jacobsen to see lyrical prose at a comparable level.”

– Stefan Kjerkegaard, PhD at Aarhus Universitet, Assistant Professor at Aarhus University, Faculty of Arts

“I was completely blown away by the beauty and the level of reflexion in Josefine Klougarts language”

Ane Nydal, Morgenbladet, Norway

“During the reading of this novel you are experiencing reading in its most original and pure form – where you are getting your first shot of this psychedelic dope once again – feeling it all once again as for the first time” – Susanne Christensen, Klassekampen, Norway

In the Norwegian newspaper VG Josefine Klougarts One of us is Sleeping was chosen as one of the 5 best books of 2012:

“Scandinavia now has its own Virginia Woolf. Few get as close to the human mind as Klougart” – Mari Nymoen Nilsen, VG, Norway

“Strong candidate for the Nordic Councils Prize for Literature… Klougart beats the air out of me and succeeds in writing about the transience of life in a new, intense and tangible way. This is what good literature is all about.” – Ida Vågseter, Stavanger Aftenblad

“Call them prose poems, call them flash fictions, call them lyric shorts — these pieces shine beyond categorization.” – Christopher McCormick, The ReviewReview, US (review of published extracts of One of Us is Sleeping)

“Klougart’s graceful and precise language propels the novel through a succession of images that justify the vagueness of that feeling, what is eventually described as something akin to ‘separating an egg, passing the yolk from hand to hand, the fragile yolk that might break at any moment.’ This is a beguiling conjuring of consciousness.’” —Publishers Weekly

“Therein lies Klougart’s genius. She renders the emotional landscape in impressionistic soft focus. The speaker’s voice arrests because it conveys more than setting, plot, or character development—it transmits powerful feelings.” —Lanie Tankard, World Literature Today

“Klougart delivers a sustained meditation on love, loss, and alienation.”
—Kirkus Reviews

“Klougart has been called Denmark’s Virginia Woolf, and it’s easy to see why. Her writing is poetic and sensitive…digging deep to the core of universal themes and human psychology.” —Cassidy Foust, Literary Hub

“Klougart deftly transports us into another person’s mind while simultaneously showing us our own.” —Rachel S. Cordasco, Bookishly Witty

“Klougart has crafted a rich novel. Her evocative explorations of how words and life work in tandem to tease meaning from the seemingly inexplicable and random events of life combine to create a novel that is richly creative and boldly written.” —Eric Maroney, Colorado Review

“Denmark’s pre-eminent postmodernist writer.”
—Fjords Magazine

“A dolorous, yet beautifully composed work of failed love, loss, and lament. The star of Klougart’s book is her gorgeous, evocative imagery and emotional acuity.” —Jeremy Garber, Three Percent

“A consistently compelling read from beginning to end.”
—Midwest Book Review