Christian Jungersen

Christian Jungersen

Christian Jungersen is the author of three novels, Undergrowth (1999), The Exception (2004), and You Disappear (2012). All of them have won major literary prizes and become bestsellers.

Jungersen was born and raised in the northern suburbs of Copenhagen, Denmark. His father was a lawyer and his mother taught Latin and Greek in high school.

After finishing a master’s degree in communication and sociology, Jungersen wrote six screenplays, none of which has been produced. He also held a number of part-time jobs, including copywriter for an ad agency, TV script consultant, and film teacher at Copenhagen Community College.

He made his literary debut in 1999 with the novel Undergrowth (Danish title Krat, not yet published in English). It was critically acclaimed, won the Best First Novel award in Denmark, and became a national bestseller.

But before it found a publisher, he continued to work – first as a copywriter and then as an information officer – in offices where he witnessed varying forms of harassment. He later drew upon this experiences when writing his second novel, The Exception.

Undergrowth won Jungersen a three-year writing fellowship from the Danish Arts Foundation – the first time in twenty years that such a grant had been awarded to someone who had written only one novel. The grant allowed him to devote himself full-time to The Exception for the next four years.

The Exception takes place in a small fictitious organization, the Danish Centre for Genocide Information. In order for Jungersen to write the novel he conducted extensive research on the psychology of genocide perpetrators at the very real Danish Centre for Holocaust and Genocide Studies. He also became a member of the International Association of Genocide Scholars and participated in a number of genocide conferences.

Upon its publication in October 2004, The Exception entered the Danish bestseller list, where it stayed for more than 18 months, spanning two Christmas seasons in its original edition. No other novel has achieved that feat in Denmark. Not only has it sold 200,000 copies in a country of 5.6 million people, but it has also been sold for publication in 20 countries. It won two Danish major literary prizes and was shortlisted for major prizes in the United Kingdom, France and Sweden. In 2009, readers of Denmark’s largest newspaper, Jyllands-Posten, voted The Exception the second best Danish novel of the previous 25 years.

The year 2012 saw the Danish publication of Jungersen’s third novel, You Disappear, which also received great critical acclaim and immediately entered the bestseller list. In this book, Jungersen again lets intriguing philosophical issues play out in everyday life in contemporary Denmark. One of its main characters undergoes a major personality change due to a brain tumor. While the premise is a strong emotional drama in itself, it evolves into an exploration of what personality is in an age when our brains can be scanned and charted. What is the soul, what is responsibility and free will? And what will they become as advances in neurology accelerate?

In writing the novel, Jungersen again immersed himself in the world of his protagonists for several years, surrounding himself with the brain damaged, their relatives, neurologists, psychiatrists, psychologists, and others. He did this not only to get his facts right, but also to inhabit his characters in ways that a deskbound approach wouldn’t have made possible.

In March 2013, You Disappear won the 2012 Læsernes Bogpris – a literary prize decided by thousands of Danish library users.

Christian Jungersen now lives on the Mediterranean island of Malta.