Book Review – Er Naja Alene?

Er Naja Alene? (Is Naja Alone?) by Helle Helmersen

WARNING: This review contains spoilers.

I’m starting to think that just about all these little books I’ve been reading – in Danish – are extremely sexist. Am I missing some subtleties of the language, which are there perhaps, but that I’m not picking up on?

The established trope is the helpless female in distress. She’s young, she’s shy, she’s naive, she has low self-esteem. Men take advantage of her, but luckily there’s always that one guy who comes to the rescue and becomes her boyfriend.

In this installment, the young woman, Naja, has a boyfriend named Kim. While Kim is out of town, Naja is raped in Ballerup by a handsome and sweet-smelling dude. She tells her girlfriend and she tells the cops. Then she waits for her boyfriend to get back so she won’t be so scared staying home by herself. Well, the rapist starts stalking Naja by sending her flowers and calling her on the phone, breathing hard, but not saying anything. She’s freaking out. She cries and cries, screams, shakes and weeps.

Finally, Kim returns from wherever he was. She tells him about being raped and…  get this: he gets mad at HER! He gets jealous and becomes furious: “was it good?” he screams at her. “Did you enjoy it?”.

Naja did not enjoy being raped, and she cries and cries and calls him an idiot and then they make up and go out to eat.

Yeah, the rapist is caught in the end. Naja does the brave thing and calls the cops when she spots him sitting and chatting with her boyfriend Kim.

Am I wrong for wanting something more cathartic?

I hear Denmark is one of the most progressive countries on the planet and women have historically been on a lot more equal footing with men in Scandinavia than in most other parts of the world. So, this is not what I expect from books written in Scandinavia by Scandinavian women. These little books are becoming too frustrating to read. Why is the content of these so sexist?! (These are books written specifically for foreigners, in absurdly simple sentences and I borrow these books from our language school library).

  • Number of words I had to look up: a lot (I lost the paper where I kept track of the words I didn’t know)
  • Would I recommend this book to a friend: no

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