Korneliussen, Niviaq

Writer born in Nanortalik (Greenland) in 1990.

Niviaq Korneliussen was born on the 27th of January in 1990 in Nanortalik, a small village in southern Greenland, where she spent her childhood. The daughter of Arnaq and Jens Korneliussen, she has two sisters named, Kulunnguaq and Tukummeq. At the end of her adolescence, she travelled to the United States on an educational exchange. During her young years, she grew fond of writing, without being specifically inspired into it by Greenlandic literature she studied at school neither by her uncle, a writer.

Niviaq Korneliussen’s Social Sciences studies at the University of Greenland were interrupted in 2012 for two reasons: she began to work for artists’ association in Nuuk and she won a writing contest from Greenlandic publishing house, Milik, with her short story “San Francisco”. The story was published in Greenlandic (2013), followed by translations in Danish (2015) and in English (2017). “San Francisco” was inspired by autobiographical events: it relates the experiences of a young lesbian discovering California and debuts her writing career. She wins a government scholarship and then writes her first novel in Greenlandic, Homo Sapienne, which was published by Milik in 2014. She translated this novel into Danish, and it was subsequently translated into German as Nuuk #ohne Filter (Nuuk #sans filtre) in 2015, then into French as Homo sapienne (2017); two English translations were also published, one in the UK as Crimson (2018) and the other in the United States as Last Night in Nuuk (2019); finally the novel was translated into Czech language (2019). This novel revolves around the relationships of five young people in postcolonial Greenland as they as explore identity questions. The novel was a huge success, selling 3,000 copies in Greenland, becoming a bestseller in Denmark and ensuring Niviaq Korneliussen to be nominated for the Nordic Council’s Literature Award. Her notoriety, interrupts her Psychology studies at the University of Aarhus from 2015 to 2018, as she accepts invitations to speak in several Nordic countries. Niviaq Korneliussen refuses to be defined as an activist author or as the spokesperson for Greenlandic youth, still her novel enounces a critical discourse on postcolonial Greenland and its identity contradictions, which attracted her angry reactions and threats from certain Greenlanders. Her writing has created a new genre of Greenlandic literature and her novel is studied as part of the school curriculum. In 2016, she contributed to Nina Kreutzmann Jørgensen’s short stories collection (Avannersumut sassarpoq; Hun står i nordenvind in Danish) as well as to an essay on Greenland as an extreme place, I vintermørket ser man intet (meaning:”one’s can’t see anything through winter’s darkness”). She is preparing her next novel, about the treatment of depression and suicide, a controversial issue in Greenlandic society.

Today, Niviaq Korneliussen lives in Nuuk.

This biography is based on the available written material during a collective research carried out during 2018-2021. It is possible that mistakes and facts need to be corrected. If you notice an error, or if you wish to correct something in an author's biography, please write to us at imaginairedunord@uqam.ca and we will be happy to do so. This is how we will be able to have more precise presentations, and to better promote Inuit culture.

(c) International Laboratory for Research on Images of the North, Winter and the Arctic, Université du Québec à Montréal, 2018-2021, Daniel Chartier and al.