Danish writer Thorup has gleaned a mode of sordid matter-of-factness, it seems, from Hubert Selby--from Last Exit to Brooklyn, specifically--that serves her all too well in this thoroughly dispiriting tale of the down and out in Copenhagen. The cut-off young people in this consciously toneless novel (full of run-on and anesthetized sentences) seem to have missed some normal turn or other and thus find themselves running right into walls. Mark, an immature and unsuccessful car salesman, must leave his loved wife and daughter because he can't support them; he ends up living, dirty and depressed and hopeless, in a Men's shelter. Nova and Sonja are 13-year-old runaways who eat out of garbage pails, sleep in cellars, and finally end up in a reformatory together after they kill a motorist who stopped for them (and whose wallet they craved). Suzie lives with a pair of homosexual losers who sponge off the money she makes as a dishwasher. Karla, a welfare mother, loses a child to pneumonia and neglect. And no one here has a single chance, absolutely no one. . . . Thorup, who with this book has won the Pegasus Prize for literature in a rarely-translated-into-English language, owns a sure hand when it comes to providing pathos (all the ratty female characters are clothes conscious--for what? for whom?) while withholding any moral: there's no pattern here, only the most vagrant randomness--and that befits the characters perfectly. Bleak as hell--effectively so.