Peter Høeg (born May 17, 1957) in Copenhagen, is one of Denmark’s most celebrated contemporary writers of fiction. He holds a Master of Arts degree in literature from the University of Copenhagen in 1984. He is divorced and has two daughters.
Before becoming a writer, he worked variously as a sailor, ballet dancer and actor. He is also a very good fencer and has done a lot of mountaineering. He has travelled a lot, and draws on his experiences in his writing. He also meditates, and has said that he meditates before starting his writing in the morning in order to become more focused and more compassionate. Also, he moves to remote spots and more or less isolates himself for shorter or longer periods of time – from one week to several months – in order to focus and concentrate properly while writing.
Peter Hoeg published his first novel, A History of Danish Dreams, in 1988 to very positive reviews. It was Smilla’s Sense of Snow (1992) that earned Hoeg immediate and international literary celebrity. His books have been published in more than 30 other countries.
Peter Hoeg has a reputation for being hard to place in terms of literary style. His writing is extremely polished, and he uses a lot of time to write his books, taking the time to work and rework his drafts until they are just as he wants them. For instance, he worked on his first novel, Forestilling om det tyvende århundrede (Introduction to the Twentieth Century, 1988; translated as The History of Danish Dreams, 1995), for six years, rewriting one chapter twenty times and discarding hundreds of pages.
His works are stylistically very different from one another. They have been given widely differing labels, such as post-modern, gothic, magic-realist, just to mention a few. To the extent that there is a red thread, it probably is in terms of theme; Hoeg’s works often seem to deal with the consequences of the progress of civilization.
Peter Hoeg is seemingly very shy. And as he became a literary superstar after the publication of Smilla’s Sense of Snow, the attendant publicity and hype seems to have been a challenge to the author’s natural shyness. He only reluctantly gives interviews and finds it terrifying to have become a literary superstar whose address must be kept secret. On the rare occasions that he gives interviews, he stresses the importance of having a break, of contemplating time by stepping outside of it: “Bogen er jo et langsomt facnomen, at standse op og bruge to ar af sit liv pa at skrive en bog, det er jo at vaere meget, meget langsom i forhold til samfundets ovrige hastighed”. [The book is a slow phenomenon, to stop and spend two years of one's life on writing a book is to be very, very slow in relation to the speed of the rest of society].
Some good articles about Peter Hoeg:
Peter Hoeg or the sense of writing, by Hans Henrik Moller, in Scandinavian Studies, Wntr, 1997
Interview on some Russian Radio station, transcribed in English