Read The Tsar's Dwarf (Hawthorne Books)

Read The Tsar's Dwarf (Hawthorne Books)
"A curious and wonderful work of great human value by a Danish master." Sebastian Barry, Man Booker finalist (Click on the picture to go to the book's Amazon page)

Thursday, November 5, 2015

Presenting My Novel 'The Egyptian Heart' - Magical Realism for the Spiritually Inclined (And It Doesn't Hurt If You Have a Sense of Humor)

After five years of hard work, my novel Det egyptiske hjerte (The Egyptian Heart) finally came out in Denmark in late October. Man, it's been a long journey. Since 2009 I've been writing on two novels at the same time going back between Danish and English, tearing the hair out of my skull every morning. Also, I went on research trips to Luxor, Egypt and my favorite city in the world, Venezia, Venice, Venedig (take your pick). I even got diarrhea but there's no limit to what a writer will do for his reader.

Det egyptiske hjerte is written in this strange tongue called Danish.  It's a sweeping, often humorous and love-affirming novel about reincarnation, eternal love and the stories we tell to make sense of our existence. It's an accessible and lively book for those who love history, spirituality, and thought-provoking storytelling about the inner connectedness of our relationships.

There are three storylines in the novel that intertwine: One in 12th century Italy about the Venetian Doge, Pietro Polano  (1130-1148) and one in contemporary Copenhagen with Zia, a historian who is writing a thesis about an Egyptian explorer, Frederik Norden. Zia and Pietro Polani are both emotional, impulsive, and zany characters who have had experiences with sexual abuse, mysticism, and fire. None of them is comfortable with dogmatic systems but have a strange fascination with Egypt and the Pyramids. Is Zia an incarnation of Pietro?  And is Frederik Norden Zia's guardian angel on her voyage into her past and herself?  The reader will have fun following the clues.

A lot of foreign publishers showed interest in The Egyptian Heart at the Frankfurt book fair so hopefully it'll be sold to a lot of countries within the next few months. If you're a publisher you can get a two-chapter translation in English by Mark Kline by mailing People's Press Foreign Rights Manager, Louise Langhoff Koch at


A few days ago I got a review to die for in Denmark's most important paper, Politiken. "I'm totally hooked," senior editor Bjørn Bredal writes. "The Egyptian Heart is one of the most charming, humorous, and clever books I've read in a long time. Peter H. Fogtdal isn't just knowledgeable, he's witty, has bite, and leaves the Dan Browns of the world in the dust." (I'd rather leave Jonathan Franzen in the dust but okay, I can live with that compliment)

Here is a great quote in Danish about the quality of my prose: "Man sejler igennem det hele, lystigt vuggende i Fogtdals sproglige gondol, som ikke giver en eneste mislyd i lagunen. Han kan skrive, kan han, og han har noget på hjerte om det store, det små og det onde i historien – verdens og romanens."  ("You cruise through the novel, gently bopping in Fogtdal's linguistic gondola ... He can write, can he and he has something important to say about the big and small issues and cruelty through the ages.")

For some reason the review isn't online at yet but should be soon. Not that I'm complaining about much right now ...

Signing books at Politiken boghandel November 4. I'll be at the Copenhagen Book Fair, BogForum Sunday November 8 at 1.30 PM and at Tranquebar boghandel, Borgergade 14 in Copenhagen, November 26 at 7 PM.  Cover, 50 DKK.