Undergrowth is Christian Jungersen’s first novel. It won the Best First Novel award in Denmark and became a Danish bestseller.
Paul and Eduard are high-school classmates and best friends in Copenhagen of the tumultuous 1920s. They experience the Gatsby era at its peak, partying while their wealthy parents discuss whether women should have the right to vote and whether Denmark should sell its Caribbean colonies to the United States.
Sixty-five years later Paul has heart surgery, and he is determined to see Eduard again before he dies. But Eduard has led a shady life, and tracking him down proves almost impossible.
Paul’s relatives start to grow anxious about the dying man’s obsession. What exactly transpired between the two former friends? The loss of Paul’s only child, Louise, is somehow involved. Is Paul, as he claims, looking to reunite with the closest friend he’s ever had – or is he planning to take final revenge on the man who later turned out to be a pathological liar and his worst enemy?
The Danish title Krat, not yet published in English.
Christian Jungersen writes about growing old with a rare sympathy that allows an unadorned and unsentimental tone to emerge…. Everything is well told and linguistically flawless… A gorgeous, extravagant novel.
One can only be impressed by Christian Jungersen’s powers of empathy and his appreciation of subtle psychological interactions.
Stylistically well developed, elegantly constructed, and with a story that slowly builds in strength…. The last part of the novel is powerful, intense, and perfectly conceived.
An especially insightful and spellbinding work…. Both in scope and quality, Undergrowth is an unusually promising first novel.
Probably not since Peter Høeg’s acclaimed first novel, The History of Danish Dreams, have we seen a similarly perfect and stylistically confident debut…. In his depiction of 82-year-old Paul, Christian Jungersen provides a breathtaking glimpse into an old man’s beliefs and the choices he has made in life.
A brimming, philosophical first novel about friendship and the construction of reality. Utterly unique in both setup and execution.
Damn, it’s ambitious for a guy in his thirties to write the extensive memoirs of an 82-year-old. The settings, the tone, and the details – of life in the great villas north of Copenhagen, before the world fell out of joint – must all be exact. The language of the changing generations has to be captured precisely. And most of all, the young man has to take on an old man’s experiences, experiences that don’t even fall in a pattern but are broken up instead, spreading uncertainty throughout a life that coincides with the twentieth century.
First-time novelist Christian Jungersen pulls it all off. He stands as a strong and persuasive advocate for a literary trend that is trying to reinvent the literature of remembrance.
An impressive novel…. So lucid and moving, you feel that they are two people you have met yourself…. A perfect talent for narrative. You are imperceptibly drawn into its intrigues, and distressed by what happens…. I must say, I was moved and completely taken with the story.
Constantly trembling with intensity and unexpressed mystery…. A profoundly original debut, from both a linguistic and compositional viewpoint.