In her new novel, Christina Hesselholdt delves into the world of the enigmatic American photographer, Vivian Maier (1926-2009), whose unique photographic body of work only reached the public by chance.
On the surface, Vivian Maier lived a quiet life as a loving, firm and feisty nanny for wealthy families in Chicago and New York. But throughout four decades, she took more than 150,000 photos, mainly with Rollieflex cameras. The pictures were only discovered in an auction shortly before she died, impoverished and feasibly very lonely.
In a time when self-obsession and representation are at an all-time high, Vivian Maier holds a particular fascination. Who was this eccentric person? And why did she not try to make a living from her art?
In Vivian, a chorus of voices, including Vivian’s own, address these questions. We watch Vivian grow up in a severely dysfunctional family in New York and Champsaur in France, and we follow her as a nanny in Chicago and as a photographer on the streets of these American cities and in rural France. The novel comprises multiple voices: Vivian’s, her mother’s, one of the children she looked after and her parents. And crucially, the voice of the inquisitive narrator, who pulls the threads together and asks Vivian prying questions.
Winner of the Danish Radio Best Novel Award 2017. Shortlisted for the Nordic Council Literature Prize in 2017.
Christina Hesselholdt has penned a marvellous novel about street photographer Vivian Maier. An orchestra of voices conducted by a master storyteller (…) As effortless and grand as the casual, meticulously choreographed gesticulations of an elegant woman of experience, (Hesselholdt’s novel) gifts us a parade of reflections as gentle as they are incisive, as reassuring as they are dismaying, as cheering as they are without mercy. Politiken
And how scandalous that this review should have proceeded so far without yet applauding just how wonderously written this book is (…) Vivian’s prose crackles with eccentricity, as exquisitely off kilter when relating to fact as when strolling off in its own inimitable directions. Weekendavisen
Reading Christina Hesselholdt is always a pleasure, since her writing is always so rousingly and appealingly distinctive, her voice so demonstratively articulate and reflective, and because she always endeavours to move forward, constantly challenging herself as a writer (…) the experiment calls for respect. Berlingske Tidende
Sentence for sentence, paragraph for paragraph, Christina Hesselholdt is one of Denmark’s finest literary stylists (…) There’s an astonishingly effervescent, yet wholly inconspicuous delicacy about her writing, the way her wistful humour bubbles up to the surface in each selected word, the way she sets up these little tableaux, only to leave them again immediately, the way she allows her characters to wander not only through events of world history but also through their own minds. Information