The Trouble with Happiness is a powerful new collection of short stories by Tove Ditlevsen, "a terrifying talent" (Parul Sehgal, New York Times).
A newly married woman longs, irrationally, for a silk umbrella; a husband chases away his wife’s beloved cat; a betrayed mother impulsively sacks her housekeeper. Underneath the surface of these precisely observed tales of marriage and family life in mid-century Copenhagen pulse currents of desire, violence, and despair, as women and men struggle to escape from the roles assigned to them and dream of becoming free and happy—without ever truly understanding what that might mean.
Tove Ditlevsen is one of Denmark’s most famous and beloved writers, and her autobiographical Copenhagen Trilogy was hailed as a masterpiece on re-publication in English, lauded for its wry humor, limpid prose, and powerful honesty. The poignant and understated stories in The Trouble with Happiness, written in the 1950s and 1960s and never before translated into English, offer readers a new chance to encounter the quietly devastating work of this essential twentieth-century writer.
About the Author
Tove Ditlevsen was born in 1917 in a working-class neighborhood in Copenhagen. Her first volume of poetry was published when she was in her early twenties and was followed by many more books, including the three volumes of the Copenhagen Trilogy: Childhood (1967), Youth (1967), and Dependency (1971). She died in 1976.
"Ditlevsen can conjure an entire world in just a few words.”
—Tabish Khair, The Times Literary Supplement
“[Ditlevsen’s] legacy endures with this collection of short stories . . . Beautifully crafted.”
—Angela Haupt, TIME
"Quiet and devastating . . . The stories are simple; the characters ordinary and immensely human. Their motivations are mysterious and subtle, and Ditlevsen is acutely sensitive to the way normal life can wear at their hearts . . . Already renowned for her memoirs, Ditlevsen is now poised to win acclaim as a master of short fiction."
—Publishers Weekly (starred review)
"A central work of modern Danish literature."
“[A] literary titan . . . [Ditlevsen’s] terse, unnerving stories peer into the fragility of relationships and the casual epiphanies that gut her characters.”
—Oprah Daily (Most Anticipated Books of 2022)
"These spare and sparkling stories summon deep wells of emotion without the slightest trace of sentimentality.”
—Chloe Schama, VOGUE
“These collected short stories show off [Ditlevsen’s] astonishingly precise prose.”
—Ellen Peirson-Hagger,The New Statesman