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Olga Ravn Books In Order

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Publication Order of Standalone Novels

Olga Ravn
Olga Ravn was born September 27, 1986 in Copenhagen, Denmark, where she grew up. She is the daughter of Peter Ravn (a visual artist and designer) and Anne Dorte Michelsen (a singer). In the year 2010 she graduated from the Danish School of Authors.

From 2010-2014 she distinguished herself as a literary critic and columnist in newspapers Politiken, Information, and Norway’s Klassekampen.

Olga published her first poem in the year 2008, in a Copenhagen literary magazine called Hvedkorn. Since then, her poetry has appeared in places like Antologi 2010, Konvolut 28/6, Verbale Pupiller, Forfatterskolens Afgangsantologi 2010, and Trappe Tusind. Olga’s early poetry has been described as playful, image-rich, rhythmic, and sensual.

In the year 2010, she published her first collection of poetry, called “I Eat Myself Like Heather”. It explores how young women’s bodies react to love, friendship, and sex. Then in 2013, the collection was translated into Swedish.

In 2014, she published “Mean Girl”, a chapbook of poetry, which consisted of colored sheets of paper and glimmering scraps. Just 250 copies were released, with each one being prepared with individual attention being given to each copy so that no two were identical.

“Celestine”, her debut novel, was awarded the Michael Strunge Prize. The novel, which centers around a boarding school, ghost stories, divorce, and blended families, was described by the prize committee as bearing a resemblance to the Gothic passions of the Brontes and the hauntings of Ibsen’s plays.

Olga has translated Miranda July (American author) and Ann Jaderlund (a Swedish poet) into Danish. She also edited the 2015 book “I Wanted to Be a Widow, and I Wanted to Be a Poet: Forgotten texts by Tove Ditlevsen”.

“The Employees” is a stand alone novel and was released in 2020. A workplace novel of the 22nd century.

Millions of kilometers from Earth in the near distant future. The crew of the Six-Thousand ship consists of those that were born, and those that were created. Those who’ll die and those that won’t. When the ship takes on a number of odd objects from the planet New Discovery, the crew is perplexed to find itself getting deeply attached to them, and humanoid and human employees alike find themselves longing for the same things: intimacy and warmth. Loved ones that have passed. Our far away and shared, which now just persists in memory.

Gradually, the crew members come to see themselves in a whole new light, and each employee is compelled to ask themselves whether their work can possibly carry on as before, and what it really means to be truly alive.

Structured like a series of witness statements compiled by a workplace commission, Olga’s crackling prose is just as foreboding as it is exhilarating as chilling as it is moving. Wracked by all sorts of longing, “The Employees” probes into what it means to be human, ontologically and emotionally, while simultaneously delivering this overdue critique of life governed by work and the logic of productivity.

“The Employees” has been shortlisted for the first Ursula K. Le Guin Prize for Fiction and the 2021 International Booker Prize. The judges for the International Booker called it a moving and beautiful read and praised it for its experimental structure and its exploration of happiness and human nature.

This novel proves that one can mix multilayered concepts and experimental structures and yet a heartfelt story is still able to emerge.

The reader is never given a complete picture of the events nor a total linear timeline, but the interviews provide enough information to grasp the major ideas and explore the idea of coworkers, work, and their relationship with the rest of who we are as people. It’s a very interesting way of exploring these themes.

Olga has credited Lea Guldditte Hestelund for inspiring the objects the crew interacts with. These objects were modeled after sculptures included in the Danish artist’s exhibition called “Consumed Future Spewed Up as Present”, which was displayed at Copenhagen’s Overgaden art institute.

She decided to write the novel after Hestelund reached out to her requesting some kind of written accompaniment for her upcoming art show. Olga shared that as she worked with Hestelund that she drew inspiration from other sources too: the commentary in the workplace emanated from her own dissatisfaction with her office job, and the futuristic setting in space was inspired by clips from NASA which Olga had recently looked at. So she asked Lea if she could do something about people that worked for the exhibition.

When she started writing the novel she soon realized that it would be much longer than just four pages, and it became a book. They were lying around the exhibition space, without a name, as if the text was a part of the artwork. Just a month later, it was published as a novel.

When she started writing the novel she thought the only reader would be Lea because she thought maybe the text will just exist in the exhibition room, however after the exhibition has ended, it will vanish and of course no visitors would read the whole thing. It would just be Lea and it was actually very freeing for her. Writing without any expectation, without having ideas about how the author performs or how the artist performs, or the way the text performs. It was like taking a holiday away from tradition.

Lea and Olga discussed exchanging pictures, books, movies, and clothes, all sorts of stuff, that they put inside a common intellectual room. Olga feels like writing is some sort of fist fight with tradition, so it was wonderful to feel like she didn’t have to try so hard.

One copy of the novel, which was leather bound, was eventually included in the Overgaden exhibition.

Olga also notes how Ursula K. Le Guin inspired the intermittent and episodic structure of the novel as well as some of its themes, like the frequent occurrence of egg-like objects scattered throughout the novel. What’s also notable is Olga’s inclusion of paraphrasing Barbara Kruger: this is a small world, just not if you have to clean it.

Book Series In Order » Authors » Olga Ravn

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