Let us be upbeat in downbeat times. Everything seems to be coming together, and we can justifiably talk of a new Swedish wave.The seemingly unstoppable Stieg Larsson juggernaut steams on. Kenneth Branagh drew huge audiences for his BBC appearances as Henning Mankell’s Kurt Wallander. This led Boyd Tonkin of The Independent to write in December 2008: “Now we can realistically expect that Henning Mankell’s beyond-genre novels will pick up a substantially enhanced UK readership. They will enjoy the books thanks to the top-level translations by Laurie Thompson, Steven T Murray and Ebba Segerberg. [...] Nordic crime fiction has dug a deep and relatively cosy niche on these shores.” Meanwhile, the UK release of Tomas Alfredson’s box-office success, a poetic and chilling horror film based on the novel Let the Right One In by John Ajvide Lindqvist (now published in English by Quercus, and as Let Me In in the USA by T .Dunne), is eagerly anticipated.
Add to all this the impact of Sweden’s Presidency of the EU in the second half of 2009. Top-class concerts, an Ingmar Bergman film season, and a host of other events are bound to boost the Swedish cultural profile further (for details,see our News & Views page). So what better time to bring our readers another wide-ranging sampler of what Swedish writing has to offer?
Translated by Rachel Willson-Broyles
Enjoy a short story from the latest volume by cultural iconoclast Jonas Hassen Khemiri, whose last appearance in SBR has prompted more enquiries than any other item we have published.
from Fall from Grace in Wilmslow
Translated by Marlaine Delargy
David Lagercrantz’s take on a very British story makes an unusual “crime” novel out of the odd life of Bletchley Park mathematical genius Alan Turing in Fall from Grace in Wilmslow.
from Silent Seas
Translated by Peter Linton
Isabella Lövin’s tenacious investigative journalism has won her prizes for spotlighting the environmental catastrophe threatening the modern oceans in her Silent Seas.
from The Art of Flight
Translated and introduced by Linda Schenck
Fredrik Sjöberg's latest book, as hard to categorise as all his work, is about landscape painter Gunnar Widforss, who became much loved in the USA.
from Buster's Ears
Translated by Laura A. Wideburg
Buster's Ears, the second novel by Maria Ernestam, leaps beyond conventional genres so that Swedish critics invented the word "Ernestamian" to describe the poetic blend of internal and external dialogue, realism and fantasy.
Translated by Sarah Death
Elin Wägner was a pioneering female journalist and also later known as an environmental campaigner, notably in Alarm Clock. Her early work Penwoman is the novel par excellence of the Swedish women’s suffrage movement, stylistically assured and skilfully plotted.
Beyond Crime Fiction, Handbags and Designer Suits
Translated by Sarah Death
Jonas Thente of Dagens nyheter helps us orientate ourselves with his survey of recent trends. This essay was first published on the Eurozine website and is reproduced with permission.
The Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award
In the field of children’s books, the Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award has established a growing international reputation; its new director, Erik Titusson, introduces its work.
The Gothenburg Book Fair 2008
Sarah Death reports from the Gothenburg Book Fair 2008.
Reviews from this issue will be available online soon.