An intelligent, warm-hearted novel about an island in the grip of change, about ancient laws that have lost their meaning, and about upheaval and deliverance.
[To the Sea]
by Dörte Hansen
Penguin Germany, September 2022
The ferry takes an hour for the crossing from the mainland to the little North Sea island – sometimes longer, depending on how rough the sea is. The Sander family has lived in one of the island’s two villages for nearly 300 years. Hanne has raised three children, while her husband has given up both his family and his seafaring life. Now her oldest son has lost his captain’s licence, is plagued by premonitions and tidal data, and is waiting for the storm to end all storms. Her daughter Eske looks after veteran sailors and widows at the old people’s home. She fears the influx of tourists more than the sea, because the tourists are turning the island’s culture into mere folklore. Only Henrik, Hanne’s youngest son, is at peace with himself. He is the first man in the family never to have dreamt of going to sea, and instead spends his time collecting flotsam on the beach. Over the course of one year, the Sander family’s life is irrevocably changed – by an almost unnoticeable breeze that eventually grows into a full-blown storm.
Dörte Hansen, born in 1964, has a degree in linguistics. She has been an editor at NDR and written for both radio and print. Her debut novel This House Is Mine was voted the German Independent Booksellers’ Book of the Year in 2015, and was the Spiegel’s 2015 bestseller of the year. Her second novel, Mittagsstunde (« Midday Hour ») appeared in 2018, was also the Spiegel’s bestseller of the year, and won both the Rheingau Literature Prize and the Grimmelshausen Literature Prize. Both novels have been translated into numerous languages.