Pia Petersen was born in Denmark, but writes in French.
She moved to Paris very early in her life and went to study philosophy at Sorbonne University, learning French at the same time. Through study of great authors in litterature and philosophy, she acquired the basic knowledge and subsequently fully mastered the French language, chosen to be the language in which she would express herself. After she graduated from Sorbonne she dedicated herself to writing.
Both her (Danish) parents lived in France but her mother wanted her to become a real Dane, so she gave birth in Denmark. After the divorce of her parents, Pia followed her mother to Denmark. At 5 years of age Pia announced to her mother that she planned to escape the country as fast as possibly. A few years later Pia announced to her parents that she was to become a writer and that she planned to liberate the verb.
Pia never became the real Dane that her mother had aspired to and never considered Denmark as her home country, never really integrating, always feeling too different to become one of them. At 16, she escaped for the first time, leaving school, going to Grece to find the ideal man, the love of her life, Zorba le Grec, the hero of Nikos Kazantzaki. Who wouldn’t look out for a man like him ? She lived one year in Greece, working as a cleaner, in hospitals, car rentals, in bars and souvenirs shops and nursing an old woman (just one, she didn’t kill her, even though she considered the option). She became a love letter writer for Greek men who corresponded with girls from all over the world, but she didn’t find Zorba and returned to Denmark trying again to adapt to this country supposed to be hers. She found herself prisoner of the precautionary principles of the Danes and the complex legislation that follows. In order to organise a new evasion, she started working in the hotel industry (Codan, Sheraton and other hotel chains to remain unnamed) manning the reception, surpervised by a nervous and anxious Director. Her questionning and critical mind and abilities worried him excessively and reduced his life to a nightmare. He was happy when Pia left.
She never abandoned her ideas and she escaped again and succeded, arriving in France where she had a complicated debut. While learning French by herself, she live for some time amongst criminals and Arab gangsters in Paris and learned a lot about life. Her French was poor but she was determined to write in French. She considered the French language to be a very open language, no definition seems ultimate, there is always a word to add or something to change, something to negotiate, something to play with. She learned French with the novel 'The Red and the Black' by Stendhal and a dictionary, learning word after word by heart. She lived from small jobs in fastfoods restaurants, telemarketing and mailing companies, working in shops and hotel switchboards. She wanted her mind to remain free and preferred working jobs that didn’t need any spiritual concentration.
In order to develop her French, Pia applied to Sorbonne for a Special Admission for the University, got her ESU diploma and entered Sorbonne to study philosophy. She persuaded the director of personnel at the French railways that they needed a Dane who could speak French and was hired to sell tickets at Gare du Nord, when that didn’t work out she was retrograded to the information desk, then retrograted again and ended up in a small, transparent bubble in the middle of the arrival hall indicating restroom locations to lost travelers.
Pia signed up for philosophy studied without really knowing what it entailed. In Denmark, philosophie is not part of the elementery school curriculum and, in general, Pia had been an absentminded student. However, she immediately discovered that she had an affinity for this kind of thinking. The first years of philosophy studies were hard, learning French and philosophy at the same time proved complicated and it didn’t help much that she had to catch up with knowledge in art, litterature, biology and science. She didn’t have time to work to gain her living so decided to eat less, study full time, performing just minimum jobs, begging in the streets and passing exams, while later she received a study grant from Denmark and started working in a library.
Everything worked fine, but Pia was used to a more agitated life, calm and harmonious days would make her worry, so she decided to change scenary and moved south, to Aix-en-Provence where she finished her master degree in philosophy, obtained with a mention, even though several professors were annoyed with her. Some told her, looking her strait in the eye, that she was not in her area and that she should change direction. She left university and started writing. Her mother died and left her a small amount of money that she invested it in a library-café in Marseille, Le Roi Lire, thinking that books and wine would be a good combination, always spurring discussion and controversy. She organised various events, lectures, debates, plays, poetry, art exhibitions with vernissages and life, musical events, theater, poetry, fairytelling. But it was exhausting, she was a lousy librarian discuraging clients from buying so she ended up closing the bookshop. It was about time to start writing full time.
Today, Pia live and write between Paris and Marseille.
March 2000, Le jeu de la facilité, Autre Temps.
A famous journalist hires a ghost-writer to write a book about life in the oustkirts of Paris. Before signing with the autor, the journalist and the publisher decide what will be the contents and the structure of the novel and organize its marketing. When they hire the ghost-writer, the book is already defined. But the ghost-writer believes in litterature and he has a style of his own…
Pia leave the publisher Autres Temps, meet Hubert Nyssen and Actes Sud, which changes her life. Actes Sud has published her books ever since.
March 2004, Parfois il discutait avec Dieu, published by Hubert Nyssen in the collection Un endroit où aller, Actes Sud.
A man leaves his life and his job and his name to live in the streets. Through his point of view, we discover his daily life and follow him through his quest for love. But is love possible for a man living in the street?
August 2005, Une fenêtre au hasard, Actes Sud.
From her window, a woman looks at the apartment on the other side of the street where a man has just moved in. The event disrupts her existence. Even though they have never met, she falls in love. In order to get in contact with him, she watches every move he makes, stealing his mail to read his letters... On the other side of the street, a man feels that somebody is spying on him. Who is watching him? And why? Two stories, two voices ... Will love bring them together?
September 2007, Passer le pont, Actes Sud.
A woman gets involved in a secte, the guru wants her as one of his several wifes. He tries to destroy her mentally so that he can rebuild her as the object he wants her to be. Yet she finds the strength to resist. Many essays were written on the subject, but rarely a novel. By following her from the very beginning, we understand from the inside why people gets trapped in these structures.
January 2009, Iouri, Actes Sud.
This story unfolds in the sphere of a Parisian art gallery. The author confronts us with our time and the commitment of an artist, Iouri. Is Iouri, who prepares his exibition, an artist ou a murderer? An artist who likes to kill or a murderer who creates art? Max, his wife, tries to understand.
Marseille's Thriller Prize (2009)
February 2010, Une livre de chair, Actes Sud.
The story of the rise and fall of a man, born rich, living among jet-setters in Hollywood where he is a professional poker player. Then the downfall. What happened? How did he end up in a small appartement on Times Square, playing poker with a bunch of loosers? Freddy, a rich businessman, invites himself into the game.
Bastide prize (2011)
February 2010, Une fenêtre au hasard published in pocket Babel
March 2012, Le chien de Don Quichotte, published by La Branche - Collection Friday the 13th.
Reading a book with a puppy on his knees, Hugo has an revelation. His decision is made, he will no longer be the hit-man he is, no longer kill anyone, he wants to do good, he wants to become a hero. But, how to inform his boss that, as head of security in the company, he will no longer “help out" in certain circumstances ? Hugo nevertheless try to fight against this nasty habit of killing however difficult that might be. His boss, Esteban, has declared war on a small group of hacker activists, who calls themselfs Friday the 13th, and who are quite efficient in emptying online bank accounts ...
January 2013, Un écrivain, un vrai (A writer in full), Actes Sud.
A Writer in Full, is the title of a reality show in which the writer Gary Montaigy accepts to be the reality star. A TV crew moves into his house to film him permanently ; the viewers are invited to speak and participate in the progress of his novel. Gary is a famous writer, recognized by his peers. If he accepts the reality show, it’s not only because he is ambitious but also because he loves literature, because he is persuaded that the television has the power to give people the desire to read. A few months later, he has abandoned life in society, he dosen’t write anymore and he confines himself to his office, sitting in his wheelchair. How did he end up there ? Did he underestimate the effects of television mediocracy?
French Academy prize: le prix du rayonnement de la langue et de la littérature françaises (2014)
October 2013, Instinct primaire (Basic Instinct), Nil Éditions.
If the heirs of feminism always proclaims that a woman can’t be "complete" or fulfilled if she dosen’t become a wife and a mother, how can a man admit a different discourse for the one with whom he wants to share his life? Hasn't he been moulded, educated, trained by his own mother to never conceive any other representation of women?
January 2014, Mon nom est Dieu (My name is God), Plon.
God is among us. Depressed, disgusted with mankind, he dosen’t understand why men have turned away from him and why they consistantly give him new names. Why have they never been able to understand him ? And how come people believes that bad novel that someone wrote about him years ago ? In order to remedy, he decides to return to earth and ask a journalist to write his biography. But she dosen’t believe in God, so how can this man be God?
2014, Invited by the Chinese Writers' Association and the French Embassy to a French Writers Cruising on the Yantze River, China.
2013, Invited by the festival Etonnants voyageurs to Congo-Brazzaville
2012, Invited by the Chinese Writers' Association and the French Institut of China
2012 invited by the XIVe Internationale Meeting of the Atelier du Roman (literary magazine), Naplion, Greece
2012, Invited by the French Institute in Denmark for the International celebration of Francophonie, Copenhagen, Denmark
2012, Invited at the litterary Residence Centre 'Littéraire Escales des Lettres' on a houseboat, Béthune, France
2011, Invited by the Embassy of France in Beijing for a tour in China as part of International Women's Day.
2011, Invited by the XIII International Meeting of the Atelier du roman (literary magazine), Naplion, Greece
2011, Invited by the University of Trento, Italy, for the International Novel Seminar
2011, Invited by the Haïtian association 'Les Passagers des Vents' for a litterary residence in Port Salut, Haiti
Marseille noir, Sous peine de poursuite, Un conte marseillais, publisher Asphalte 2014
Bordel, Made in China, short story Nora et la Chine, publisher Stéphane Million 2012
L'Atelier du Roman, chronique Banquet à Nauplie, publisher Flammarion 2012
Intranqu'îllités, chronique Une folie en Commun, Journal of Les passagers des Vents 2012
L'Atelier du Roman, chronique Boris Vian en Haïti, publisher Flammarion 2012
La revue littéraire, chronique Concierge Story, publisher Leo Scheer 2012
Clair obscur, short story Il suffira d’une goutte, publisher JBZ and Co. / Hugo and Cie 2011
Au nom de la fragilité, short story Il fait si noir, publisher Eres 2009
Les ruines de New York (Raymond Jean) 2005, Transbordeurs
La strada è la mia casa (Parfois il discutait avec Dieu), San Paolo editions, Italy
Marseille noir (Sous peine de poursuite), Akashic Books, USA
GEO, Marseille, Occasional Istanbul 2009
L'Express, Insolence et nonchalance, 2008 Revue Art Sud No. 53, Retour vers l’art futur, Porte Avion, 2006