Today and Tomorrow
The novel takes place in Copenhagen in the year 2007. Through that year we follow an eclectic group of people who, like you and me, have apparently regular everyday lives. Their lives intertwine like those of the characters in Raymond Carver’s Short Cuts, and each one tries to act in the best possible way, but as always there are circumstances and events which are outside of human control.
The story starts with a fire in the building where four of the main characters live: The young couple, Marie and Jasper, who can’t quite get everyday life with a small child to work out – especially not after Marie meets the intriguing and captivating Martin at her French class. Morten is a student at the university whose life changes, when he meets the pattern breaker, Line. And Mrs. Carstensen, who spends her days talking to her late husband Otto, and who keeps 30,000 Danish kroner hidden in a shoebox. The fire marks the beginning of an apocalyptic chain of events, and slowly and relentlessly they all move closer and closer to the disaster, which will turn life as they know it upside down and forever change the city and the country they live in.
“Henriette Rostrup’s impressive debut embraces a crowded gallery of characters, and leaps between fiction and reality in a way that awakens your sympathy and sets your thoughts in motion. Her prose is fluid and varied, and the novel is a pleasure to read. Today and Tomorrow is nothing less than a Copenhagener chronicle and a memorable portrait of our times.”
“The attack tears the book apart the same way it tears apart the bus – like a bolt from the blue. With the terrible suddenness of terrorism itself, the author brings the bomb onto the bus and into the city, the book, and our consciousness. There are no basement-plotting imams here, no shabby crime commissioner on a detective mission, no female journalist who is tipped off to a cell she then succeeds in stopping. There is only an ordinary, average day in a Copenhagen montage. And then: BOOM! …
We readily locate the action in time, namely last year, and the news cuttings keep us situated in a concrete, realistic frame. When the author short-circuits her own plot in this way, the news must follow suit, and the conflation of historic summary and reportorial fiction has a remarkably strong effect….
For Henriette Rostrup has a sense of our era and is good at portraying the fates of those who live in the staircase next door. Yes, we know these people.
O Copenhagen, city where authors like Kathrine Marie Guldager, Ida Jessen, Jonas T. Bengtsson, and Benn Q. Holm channel your singular literary spirit! Welcome to the city where we gather, separate, live, and die. And welcome to the latest addition to the tribe of our capital’s chroniclers. Welcome to a tour through the city’s neighborhoods with Henriette Rostrup, Copenhagen’s newest topographical storyteller. Welcome to one counterfactual bomb of a book.”
“A fire in a Nørrebro shed frames a thriller that manages to realistically combine people’s small problems with the world’s big ones, thereby setting individual lives into perspective.
The reader is brought gently and quietly into Henriette Rostrup’s debut novel. People encounter each other on a staircase in Nørrebro, and we encounter them in their respective apartments. Here live the young, the old, the lonely, and the hopeful, all with their particular lives and problems, and the small disappointments in their various lives engage us. It can be intriguing to read about strangers’ lives; it can also be horrific, bewildering, and shocking.
But a world lies outside the building as well, and there, it is others who decide the agenda.
Rostrup begins each chapter with a news summary. With this clever device, she succeeds in bringing major problems into daily life. It helps stimulate the reader’s senses to a large degree, and even though the plot and characters don’t immediately seem mysterious, the novel contains a surprising, horrible payoff.
In reading Today and Tomorrow, we grow as human beings and become smarter, about the world we live in and the people we are. The book is dependably thrilling, and the prose flows past so that we disappear farther and farther into the story’s universe and slip all the way under the skin of the characters, until we can almost nod familiarly to them when we meet them in the building.
Henriette Rostrup knows the art of writing an exciting book. Read Today and Tomorrow, and your life tomorrow will not be what it is today.”
“Henriette Rostrup’s debut, Offspring, was very well received in 2007. Its successor, Today and Tomorrow, does not disappoint. On the contrary…. The familiarity of the material is disquieting, and the telling walks the fine line between micro and macro, between everyday life and the global threat of terror.”
ALT for Damerne
“… the characterizations are so sharp, that you are always being drawn farther into the story … and most important of all: after you finish reading, the characters stick with you. It is natural to connect [Naja Marie] Aidt and perhaps Ida Jessen with Rostrup’s style, although … one can confidently say that she has her very own style and voice. It will be interesting to see what she comes up with next. Absolutely recommended!”
“Spectacular debut from young author
It [the technique] is effective. The action-packed reality of Nørrebro is woven into the novel’s plot, while the rest of the news ticker functions as background music that sets the daily life of Copenhagen in relief.
Rostrup’s prose style is matter-of-fact, yet observant and precise. Both stylistically and thematically, the novel hits the reader hard. This reviewer, in any case, could not keep the tears from falling on more than one occasion.”
“… the many events and the large cast of characters are chillingly familiar…. Indeed, there is much here for reflection.”
“It gives us everyday dramas in the form of secrets and lies. Desire, infatuation, and obsession. Disappointment and grief. Covert war and daily battle. Life and death.
And then the tragedies gather steam, and nothing is as it was before – including the reader. For you receive a shock that no one could have seen coming; the action strikes like lightning from a clear sky or a suicide bomber on a Copenhagen bus. And it terrifies. Yet the plot is not what you notice and bring from the novel, because at some level the minor personal tragedies make a greater impression – at least they do on me. But shocking or not, the many events and the large cast of characters feel chillingly familiar. It is scary too to find, amid the genuine news quoted from last year, how a fictive item – an item that could very well be true – suddenly figures in the action. Indeed, there is much here for reflection.”
“Henriette Rostrup’s debut novel, Today and Tomorrow, is a splendid follow-up to the excellent story collection Offspring, which came out last year. It is an intelligent, meaningful novel that deals with relationship quarrels large and small – and more broadly, about what happens when the toddler’s realm of little Denmark is suddenly jerked from its Sleeping Beauty dreams.
It is well written, and the plot carefully thought out, so you will plow your way through all 429 pages.”
“A thrilling, intense, and spell-binding book written in a voice that everyone can understand. Nothing is swept under the carpet. And certainly not when it comes to people’s love lives, which are of course part of everyday life in most homes. Most people will nod their heads in recognition at this or that passage….”