Joanna Kavenna

Joanna Kavenna is the author of The Ice Museum: In Search of the Lost Land of Thule and several novels.

Tim Parks’s latest novel opens in the forests of the South Tyrol, where a group of white-water enthusiasts are taking a kayaking holiday. The river is overflowing with melt water from a thawing glacier, and the kayakers find themselves endangered by the force of the current, as the river runs ever faster and fuller. It’s a symbolic river, too: Parks explores the ripples of minor...

Mixed Up: In the génocidaire’s wake

Joanna Kavenna, 3 March 2005

Andrew Miller’s first two novels, Ingenious Pain (1997) and Casanova (1998), were extended fantasies set in an imaginatively embellished 18th century. In his third novel, Oxygen (2001), Miller cast off the breeches and capes to write about a mother suffering from terminal cancer whose sons go to her house in the country to help nurse her. His new novel, The Optimists, describes a...

The provocation begins with the name. Lars Trier, a boy from Denmark, went to film school and changed his name to the more aristocratic Lars von Trier. In Trier on von Trier the question of the name opens the account of the director’s life. ‘I started using the name again at film school, because it seemed the most provocative thing I could do,’ von Trier explains. ‘No...

Trauma Style: Joyce Carol Oates

Joanna Kavenna, 19 February 2004

Joyce Carol Oates is fascinated by the seedy corners of American life. Her recent novels are narrated by orphans, mutilated girls, the abused, the impoverished, celebrities destroyed by fame, children from families destroyed by rape. Oates’s books often open with a riddling exposition which implies a hidden trauma. We Were the Mulvaneys (1996) begins: ‘No one would be able to name...

Diary: in Tromsø

Joanna Kavenna, 31 October 2002

Winter comes but nearly all the year to the city of Tromsø, a wind-lashed port standing precariously on the western coast of Norway, 69.7 degrees North – beyond the Arctic Circle. The inhabitants are proud of their small city, inaccurately called the ‘Paris of the North’ or, more realistically, ‘the Gateway to the Arctic’. It’s a quiet place,...

Yearning for Polar Seas: north

James Hamilton-Paterson, 1 September 2005

My father was born in China and no doubt I caught from him his own boyhood tingle at the idea of ships and their Empire routes, especially long ocean voyages by P&O liner. Excitement,...

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