It is easy to find diverse reasons to be cheerful in our sphere of activity as 2015 gets underway. Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg, undeniably an opinion former, has started a book club for his 31 million followers and taken a New Year’s resolution to read a book every fortnight. One Swedish magazine recently went so far as to dub today’s book groups ‘a popular movement’. There was certainly a record turnout at my reading group this January and I learnt that there are no less than five such groups obtaining their books through my little branch library.
An Observer article (24 Aug 2014) quoted Harvill Secker’s publishing director Liz Foley: ‘There used to be a feeling translations were “good for you” and not enjoyable … like vegetables … But actually they’re wonderful books.’ Translator Daniel Hahn, in an interview in The Bookseller (6 Oct 2014) on becoming Chair of the Society of Authors, held up the translation sector as an example to emulate: ‘One of the main reasons for the generally buoyant mood in the translation world is that over the last few years it has become extremely collaborative, with broad networks of translators, publishers, funders, libraries etc, forming a really strong united community with individual interests but also mutual understanding’.
SBR’s own networks have helped us to assemble an impressive variety of material in this issue. Astrid Trotzig’s account of trying to combine her Swedish identity and her Korean one is as powerful as when first published in 1996. Christina Wahldén’s love story about a pupil of famous botanist Linnaeus is tender and tactile. Aino Trosell is an accomplished crime writer with a social conscience, who deserves to break through to the English-language market. A post-apocalyptic young adult thriller comes from the prolific pen of Sofia Nordin, Jonas Karlsson is the master of surreal, minimalist stories and there is a new departure for eminent poet, Lennart Sjögren. We also have reports from the Gothenburg Book Fair and the Tove Jansson centennial conference, plus a splendid array of reviews.
Exceptionally, this editorial is written in the first person, because it will be the last under the present editorship. It has been a pleasure and a privilege to edit SBR for the past eleven years. The journal is thriving and can look forward to a healthy future with a fresh editor and numerous new contributors, including many younger colleagues. So that is another excellent reason for good cheer.
Translated by Laurie Thompson
Since her crime fiction debut in 1999, Aino Trosell has been rated among the highest fliers of the genre in Sweden. Laurie Thompson presents his extract from the opening of an unsettling story from her new collection of crime-fiction short stories. "Confused" describes the fate of an undocumented migrant to Sweden, one of those characters on the social periphery in whom the author specialises.
Translated by Lo Nathamundi
In 1970 Astrid Trotzig arrived in Sweden; she was five months old. Blod är tjockare än vatten (Blood is Thicker than Water), first published in 1996, takes us on a journey back to the country of her birth, Korea, and describes the ambivalence she feels in being adopted and in being neither Swedish nor Korean. It was nominated for the August Prize in 2001 and was also published in Korea. We present a series of extracts selected by translator Lo Nathamundi.
Silvester Mazzarella reports from the Tove Jansson Centennial Conference held on 27 and 28 November 2014 in the Aula Magna of the University of Stockholm, and organised by Boel Westin, Professor of Literature and the History of Ideas and writer of the authorised biography Tove Jansson: Ord, bild, liv (Tove Jansson: Life, Art, Words).
Translated and introduced by Magnus Koch
Christina Wahldén, better known as a writer of young adult fiction, relates a poignant tale of unfulfilled love between the oldest daughter of botanist Carl Linnaeus and his favourite pupil, Daniel Solander. Our excerpt, from the beginning, anticipates the end: Solander, still at quite a young age, is taken young and dies at the home of his friend Joseph Banks.
Translated and introduced by Linda Schenck
Jonas Karlsson was born in 1971. He holds a permanent position on the staff of the Royal Dramatic Theater in Stockholm and made a great hit during autumn 2014 in the lead role of Shakespeare’s Richard III. He has acted on various other stages in Sweden as well as in numerous television series. Linda Schenk presents her translation of "My Friend at Gondolen I" from his first collection of short stories Det andra målet (which may, with intentional ambiguity, mean either ‘The Second Goal’ or ‘The Other Aim’ or some other combination thereof).
A frequent visitor and a first-time guest both find a great deal to intrigue them at the vibrant 2014 Gothenburg Book Fair, and agree that stamina is vital.
Translated and introduced by Deborah Bragan-Turner
En sekund i taget (One Second at a Time) is the gripping story of thirteen-year-old Hedvig and her fight for survival after her family and everyone around suddenly her dies from a mystery disease. It was nominated for the Nordic Council Children and Young People’s Prize 2014. Deborah Bragan-Turner presents her translation of an extract taken from the beginning of the book.
Translated by Göran Malmqvist
Lennart Sjögren is one of Sweden’s most eminent poets, with several dozen published volumes and a number of distinguished poetry prizes to his name. Translator Göran Malmqvist has translated Kalla mig Noa in its entirety. Here he presents an extract from the opening of the poem.
Reviews from this issue will be available online soon.