The God of Chance focuses on the relationship between Ana, a high-flying Danish career woman from the international finance sector whose work is her life, and the young teenager Mariama, two women whose circumstances are completely different. Ana first meets Mariama selling snacks on a beach in Gambia, and the girl gradually becomes a substitute for the family she has never had. The novel moves to Copenhagen and then to London as Ana brings Mariama to Europe to be educated; the girl finds the cultural shock and living with Ana intensely difficult, whilst Ana’s obsession with her leads to her own carefully controlled life descending into chaos. The story depicts the gulf between European affluence and Third World poverty; it explores our dependence on money, our need to be in control in every situation, and the problematic relationship between sponsor or donor and recipient. The scene moves from colourful depictions of life in a luxury hotel in Africa, cheek by jowl with desperate poverty, to elite designer flats in Copenhagen, and finally the bustling multicultural community on the streets of London.
This novel from 2011 is the latest by the prize-winning Danish author Kirsten Thorup. Her most well-known works are her series of four novels about little Jonna from the provinces, which are also about growing up into the rapidly-changing Danish society of the late twentieth century; and Bonsai (2000), an unflinching account of the scourge of Aids and its devastating effect on an ordinary family.