Born in 1957 in Copenhagen, Denmark, Peter Høeg had an unusal career before publishing his first novel at the age of 31. He was a trained fencer, who switched to dancing when the dance vogue hit Europe in the 1970s; an actor who performed one-man comedy shows inspired by the Italian tradition of commedia dell'arte; a sailor; and a teacher at a performing arts college who abandoned his job to devote himself to writing. He had plenty of odd experiences to draw on for inspiration.
His debut, A History of Danish Dreams (1988) was very well received. This magical realism saga about 450 years of Danish history brought Høeg well deserved fame in his own country. Two years later he published Tales of the Night, a collection of short stories inspired by the queen of Danish literature, Karen Blixen. But it was Miss Smilla's Feeling for Snow (1992), which earned the author international recognition and a place in the top ranks of contemporary Danish writers.
A year later Høeg wrote Borderliners, a story about children taking part in a social experiment in a school in Copenhagen. In 1996 came The Woman and the Ape, about the emotional relationship between an alcoholic upper-class woman and a monkey she rescues from a laboratory.
And then he disappeared for ten years, to surface again in 2006 with the strangest of all his novels, The Quiet Girl. It marked his return to the thriller genre, but this time the story turned out to be even more complicated than in Smilla. The Quiet Girl was not widely acclaimed, in fact some critics complained it was too difficult to follow the plot. The story of a circus clown with unnatural hearing abilities had too scattered a narrative and too many cultural digressions for their liking.
Peter Høeg is a quiet man himself. He almost never gives interviews. He meditates for an hour before writing, and prefers to work in his solitary countryside retreat, whose location also remains a secret.