Eleven-year-old Larus is sent away from home to work for a greedy farmer. Every day Larus herds the farmer’s cows to the wild meadow outside of own, where he is all alone all day, until he has to usher them back in the evening. The family where he works is not particularly friendly, and Larus is lonely, until he meets an orphan girl, Tinka, who is living in the wild meadow by herself. She is a strange, shy girl, who speaks poorly and wears the filthiest clothes Larus has ever seen. When Larus learns why Tinka is the way she is, he brings her back with him to the farmer’s wife, who would like to keep her. But the farmer sees other possibilities for Tinka. And while Tinka may appear small and helpless, she soon shows all of them that she happens to be a strong, smart girl, who will not be pushed around.
Cecil Bødker’s novel, The Starveling, published in 1990, conveys a modern view of children as independent beings, while it draws from bygone days of rural life, shepherd boys, and small farmers. This story unmasks power, class, and preconceptions about motherhood. To speak of The Starveling as a modern literary classic is no exaggeration.
Kamila Löfström, Literary critic
Cecil Bødker (1927-2020) is one of contemporary Denmark’s most highly awarded and prolific female authors. She has written 59 books including poetry, novels for children and adults, short stories and plays. Her Stories about Tacit, a collection of 11 connected short stories, was published in 1971, forming the first book of The Water Farm trilogy. Best known for her young-adult fiction books, in 1976 she received the international Hans Christian Andersen Medal for Writing for her lasting contribution to children’s literature. In 1998 she was awarded the Grand Prize of the Danish Academy for her body of work as a writer.
Michael Favala Goldman (b.1966), besides being a widely-published translator of Danish literature, is a poet, educator, and jazz clarinetist. Over 140 of Goldman’s translations and poems have appeared in dozens of literary journals such as The Harvard Review and The Columbia Journal. He teaches workshops and gives readings at universities and literary events. His fifteen translated books include works by Knud Sørensen, Tove Ditlevsen, Suzanne Brøgger, Knud Sønderby, Marianne Koluda Hansen and Benny Andersen. www.hammerandhorn.net