The Elephant Keeper’s Children is a nearly 500 page book about a 14 year-old boy’s adventures while in pursuit of his absent parents. If this sound a little like Harry Potter, the similarities end there. Martin Aitken translates Heog’s book to English for the first time, sharing an existentialist journey through Denmark.
Petrus and sister Tilte, precocious beyond their teenage years, are detained by the authorities because their parents have gone missing. It doesn’t take long to figure out that their parents are being pursued by the police and a ragtag team of Danish authorities and it becomes a race against time to find out what their parents are up to before the authorities.
This may sound like a young adult novel but it’s themes and characters are decidedly more adult, than young. Petrus and Tilte are on a spiritual journey that includes befriending a Buddhist sex therapist, a heroin-addicted Count and a prostitute with anger issues.
A 14 year old, obsessed with football and finding enlightenment, is a humorous hero of a winding, entertaining tale. Hoeg is most notable as the author of Simila’s Sense of Sense. You’ll find The Elephant Keeper’s Children a less violent, equally mystical novel.