Smilla’s Sense of Snow


Smilla’s Sense of Snow is a gripping thriller novel written by Danish author Peter Høeg. The book, originally published in Danish in 1992 under the title “Frøken Smillas fornemmelse for sne,” gained international recognition and has been translated into several languages, including English. This intriguing piece of literature delves into the world of crime and mystery, taking readers on an intense journey through the snowy landscapes of Denmark, Greenland, and beyond.

Plot Summary

The story revolves around the enigmatic character of Smilla Qaaviqaaq Jaspersen, who is part Inuit and lives in Copenhagen. Smilla, feeling like an outsider in a society that often rejects her, possesses an extraordinary ability to understand snow—she can detect subtle differences in its texture, smell, and sound. When a young Inuit boy named Isaiah, who lives in the same building as Smilla, falls to his death from the rooftop, she becomes suspicious.

Unconvinced by the official verdict of accident, Smilla investigates the incident on her own. As she digs deeper into Isaiah’s death, she uncovers a complex web of conspiracy, deceit, and corporate malice. Guided by her intuition and her unique understanding of the snow, she embarks on a perilous quest to uncover the truth.

Praise and Awards

Smilla’s Sense of Snow has received critical acclaim worldwide. The book was a bestseller in several countries and has garnered numerous accolades and awards over the years. Høeg’s masterful storytelling and his ability to create a strong sense of atmosphere have captivated readers and critics alike.

The novel won the Glass Key Award in 1993, an accolade given to the best Nordic crime novel of the year. It was also shortlisted for the prestigious International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award in 1994. Høeg’s meticulous research, compelling characters, and thought-provoking themes have cemented Smilla’s Sense of Snow as a modern classic in the crime fiction genre.


The book features a diverse range of characters that contribute to the intricate narrative. Some of the key characters include:

Smilla Jaspersen: The protagonist of the story, a mixed-race woman with a unique connection to snow and a determination to uncover the truth about Isaiah’s death.

Isaiah: A young Inuit boy who falls to his death from the rooftop, setting the events of the novel in motion.

The Mechanic: A mysterious man who befriends Smilla and assists her in her investigation.

Jesper Lorrimer Qaaviqaaq: Smilla’s estranged father, an influential figure in Greenland, who holds valuable information related to the case.

Hugo Hermann Moritz Heilmann: A wealthy professor and scientist engaged in secret projects with troubling implications.

Inuit Communities: The book provides a glimpse into the rich cultural heritage and challenges faced by the Inuit people, highlighting themes of identity, isolation, and marginalization.


Smilla’s Sense of Snow is an enthralling masterpiece that seamlessly blends elements of crime, mystery, and cultural exploration. It is a book that challenges readers to question the truths presented to them and to navigate through a maze of secrets and deception alongside Smilla. With its richly developed characters, atmospheric settings, and a plot that keeps readers on the edge of their seats, this novel continues to captivate audiences around the world.

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