Synopses & Reviews
Soerine, a deformed female dwarf from Denmark, is given as a gift to Tsar Peter the Great, who is smitten by her freakishness and intellect. Against her will, the Tsar takes Soerine to St. Petersburg, where she becomes a jester in his court. There, she lives a life that both compels and repels her. Soerine eventually gives in to the attentions of Lukas, the Tsar's favorite dwarf, and carves out an existence for herself amidst the squalor and lice-ridden world of dwarfs in the early 18th century. In this inhospitable milieu, Soerine's intelligence and detached wit provide her some small measure of protection until disaster strikes in the shape of a priest who wants to "save" her. The Tsar's Dwarf is a masterfully told and brilliantly translated novel about aberration, endurance, and the human condition.
"The brisk pace, flip tone, and confounding convictions of its seventeenth-century narrator make the novel, set in the distant past, feel contemporary...Fogtdal widens the potentially narrow first-person point of view...that allows her to relay and consider events she does not witness; this gives the novel a broader historical scope. Sørine's internal life, however, her observations of behavior and investigations of belief, are the source of the novel’s zest and contemporary relevance....Just as I began to grow weary, wondering what might happen next to Sørine, she makes a bold move that leads the novel back to its compelling premise: people's physical oddities are no match for the bizarre manifestations of their desire." The Believer
"Sørine's smart and witty...[her] life is mesmerizing." Bookdwarf.com
About the Author
Peter H. Fogtdal was born in 1956 in Copenhagen, Denmark and has a degree in playwriting from Cal State Fullerton. He is the author of twelve novels in Danish. Three have been translated into French, two into Portuguese. In 2005 he won The Francophonian Literature Prize (Le Prix Litteraire de la Francophonie) for Le Front Chantilly. The Tsar's Dwarf is his first novel in English. Peter H. Fogtdal shares his time between Portland, Oregon, and Copenhagen, Denmark.