BOOKS: PETER HOEG: OLD TRUNK

PETER HOEG SATIRIZES DANISH PROVINCIALISM IN HIS FIRST NOVEL

ONE OF THE STRONG SUBSURface themes of Smilla's Sense of Snow, the fine 1993 thriller by Peter Hoeg, a Danish novelist then new to America, was a slyly expressed contempt for what the author saw as his country's bourgeois self-satisfaction. This much relished contempt and cheerfully malign slyness are the driving forces of Hoeg's first novel, The History of Danish Dreams (Farrar, Straus & Giroux; 356 pages; $24), which has now been issued in the U.S. That said, there's not much similarity between the two novels. Smilla has a powerful narrative flow; Dreams is a lumpish absurdity that fuddles to a...

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