Allatta!-winner receives the Nordic Council’s Literature Prize 2021

For the first time a Greenlandic writer has been awarded the Nordic Council’s Literature Prize, when Niviaq Korneliussen won the award on November 2.

The Playhouse in Copenhagen has settled again. Tina Dickow just left the stage after playing her song “Hjertestorm” along with Helgi Jónsson and Vocal Line.

From the side Premier of Greenland, Múte Bourup Egede, and Head of Home Rule Govt, Bárður á Steig Nielsen, step out and the tension increases. Will it be the Faroese or the Greenlandic nominee to win the award?

The silence is complete. In the hall (perhaps also at home, in the viewers’ living rooms?) the audience listens closely as the two gentlemen repeat Kirsten Thorup’s words from her speech after winning the award in 2017: “In the darkness and in the light is the literature”.

The nominees are mentioned for the last time – now only waits the declaring of the winner.

 

Naasuliardarpi – Flower Valley

Niviaq Korneliussen, this year’s winner of the Nordic Council’s Literature Prize, and first time Greenlandic winner since the creation of the award in 1962, has written a book about an issue in society which everyone in Greenland knows – suicide.

The book is a journey through the year of a young woman’s life. She is soon leaving for Denmark to study and the whole world is open before her. But she has also started a relationship with another woman in Nuuk, and the dilemma of living out her dream of leaving Nuuk, while on the other side leaving her lover behind is nearly tearing her apart.

A suicide in the girlfriend’s family brings the lead on her maiden voyage to Tasiilaq, where Flower Valley is located, and where the first notches in their relationship appear. Back in Nuuk the relationship ends, and the lead returns to her daily life in Denmark, which she can’t hold together either.

The story culminates when the lead, trying to flee to Canada, stands without a cent to her name, and in absolute defeat watches as the plane to the American continent leaves without her on board.

Niviaq  Korneliussen’s strength resides in her absolute honesty about the sexual relationship and her minimalistic approach to the story line. For Niviaq, it’s not about describing her characters’ looks or their surroundings, but more importantly to talk about their actions. Their reactions.

Naasuliardarpi is a literary masterpiece without equal, because Niviaq, in her story, uncovers the problems about being a Greenlandic student abroad, and what consequences it can cause to be so far away from home and those you love.

 

Allatta! as a starting point

While Niviaq has always loved to write (a friend and former classmate of hers stated to KNR that they used to compete about writing the longest assignment in school) it was through NAPAs own competition in collaboration with Nunatta Atuagaateqarfia, Kalaallit Atuakkiortut and Milik Publishing, called Allatta! that she got her first breakthrough to the Greenlandic, literary market.

It was the first time the competition was held in 2013, and Niviaq was among the 10 most skilled participants – you will find that Sørine Steenholdt and Pivinnguaq Mørch, both published authors, where among those 10 as well – and already a year later she was ready with her debut novel, HOMO Sapienne, published by Milik Publishing.

As with Naasuliardarpi, it gives insight to the life and struggles of the Greenlandic youth, however focusing on the sexuality of the five leads. In addition, if you read her short story in Allatta! called San Fransisco, you will get to know what happened to Sara after her story ended in HOMO Sapienne.

 

NAPA congratulates Niviaq Korneliussen with the award. The Nordic Council’s Literature Prize has been one of the most prestigious literature awards a Nordic writer could hope to obtain. Finally, it went to a writer from the northernmost and westernmost part of the Nordic region.

Allatta! is expected to be held for its fourth run in 2022.

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