Joanna Kavenna

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


The Wrong Idea of North

1 September 2005

We were grateful to James Hamilton-Paterson for his generous discussion of our books (LRB, 1 September). However, we were startled by his suggestion that The Ice Museum and The Idea of North could most usefully be discussed through comparison with Barry Lopez’s Arctic Dreams. The books are about very different landscapes and themes. Lopez writes about the history and wildlife of the Arctic. He is...

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...

My main point about Dogville was that it was an incoherent amalgam of religious archetypes, Hollywood violence and dodgy fantasy, masquerading as avant-garde cinema. Vincent Deary suggests that the film is a coherent ‘parallel’ to the Passion, with Grace as Christ (Letters, 6 May). I don’t recall Christ saying: ‘Suffer the little children to come unto me and be gunned down by my daddy’s henchmen...

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...

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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