If you read literary fiction, you might want to pick up "The Quiet Girl."
Danish author Peter Hoeg's first novel, "Smilla's Sense of Snow," is one of my all-time favorites. All his novels since then have sounded rather weird, and this one also fits that bill. Reading it is like putting together a jigsaw puzzle without having any idea of what the final picture will look like.
That said, this novel is worth the effort. It does for sound what "Smilla" did for snow -- in fact, one reviewer joked that it should be called "Kaspar's Sense of Sound." But it also, like "Smila," takes us into mystical new realms of being and thinking.
The main character is Kaspar Krone. Kaspar is a world-renowned circus clown and accomplished violinist who has a gambling adiction and unwise spending habits that have left him deeply in debt and about to be arrested. He also has an uncanny hearing ability (developed during an episode of blindness as a child) that has led to a secondary career doing music therapy with children. He is hired by an order of nuns to track down the "quiet girl," one of a number of children who have special powers. All sorts of daredevil action results, and the end leaves us begging for a sequel.
"Marie Claire" Magazine wrote, "(read it) because the kooky conceit frames a smart-but accessible look at the Big Questions, and the cinematic story will no doubt be made into a movie -- we hope starring Johnny Depp." Well, number one, if there is a movie and it stars Depp, count me in. Number two, translating this into a movie will be an accomplishment second only to that of putting Jonathan Safron Foer's "Everthing Is Illuminated" on film. And, three, I hope a movie version unravels the plot without decimating it.
Like "Smilla," the atmosphere and ambience of this Copenhagen-set novel stick with you after you put it down. If you're brave, give it a try.