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The following books are reviewed in the Bookshelf section of the 1998:2 issue:

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Gabriella Håkansson: Operation B (Operation B). Bonniers, 1997.

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Birgitta Trotzig: Dubbelheten. Tre sagor (Doubleness. Three Fairy Tales). Bonniers, 1998.

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Sigrid Combüchen: Parsifal. Norstedts, 1998.

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Maria Gummesson: Eldsaga (A Tale of Fire). Bonniers, 1996.

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Klas Östergren: Med stövlarna på och andra berättelser (With One's Boots On and Other Stories). Bonniers, 1997.
Inger Frimansson: Där inne vilar ögat (Your Eye is in There). Rabén Prisma, 1996.

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Rose Lagercrantz: Eros tårar (Eros' Tears). Norstedts, 1998.

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Tove Jansson: Meddelande. Noveller i urval 1971-1997 (Message. Selected Short Stories 1971-1997). Schildts (and Bonniers), 1998.

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P.C.Jersild: Sena sagor (Late Tales). Bonniers, 1998.

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K Arne Blom: Vredens dag (The Day of Wrath). Norstedts, 1998.

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Åke Edwardson: Rop från långt avstånd (Far Distant Cries). Norstedts, 1998.

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Håkan Nesser: Kim Novak badede aldrig i Genesarets sjö (Kim Novak Never Swam in the Lake at Gensaret). Bonniers, 1998.
Per Olof Sundman: Jägarna och andra berättelser från Norrland (The Hunters and other stories from Norrland). Norstedts, 1998.

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Per Svensson: Frostviken: Ett reportage om Per Olof Sundman, nazismen och tigandet. Bonniers, 1998.
Per Wästberg: Duvdrottningen (The Pigeon Queen and Other Stories). Wahlström & Widstrand, 1998.
Jörn Donner: Varför finns jag till (Why Do I Exist). Wahlström & Widstrand, 1998.

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Carl Bildt: Uppdrag Fred (Assignment Peace). Norstedts, 1997.
Bengt Söderhall (ed.): En dag om året (One Day a Year). Heidruns Förlag, 1998.
Glenda Dawn Goss: Sibelius: The Hämeenlinna Letters. Scenes from a Musical Life 1874-95. Jean Sibelius Ungdomsbrev. Schildts, 1997.

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Mattias Berg: Livet efter Dolly (Life after Dolly). A travel story of cloned sheep and artificial humans. Norstedts, 1998.
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bjlarssonbox.gif (6962 bytes)Björn Larsson was born in central Sweden in 1953, and went to school in Jönköping, but was soon smitten by an irresistible wanderlust. His first literary book was a collection of short stories, Splitter (Splinters, 1980), which received mixed notices; but he really made his mark in 1992 with Den keltiska ringen (The Celtic Ring), a novel whose main character Larsson says is his boat Rustica. That may be tongue in cheek, but it is set largely in Scotland and Ireland where he and his Danish wife Helle spent a year on board Rustica.

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Larsson started to write the novel before the Berlin wall came down, and before devolution came to Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. He seems to have anticipated a trend that became widespread throughout Europe. We print an extract of George Simpson's translation of The Celtic Ring.

Freedom and the seafaring life was also at the heart of Björn Larsson's second novel, Long John Silver (1995). We print a bone-chilling extract from Tom Geddes's translation of the novel, which will be published by Harvill Press, London, in 1999. We also have a general introduction to the novel and a discussion of the principles followed by the translator in making his translation.droemmar.gif (7999 bytes)

Björn Larsson's latest novel is Drömmar vid havet (Dreams by the Sea, 1997), and once again the setting is the sea and a central theme freedom. Ian Hinchcliffe introduces Drömmar vid havet, and has translated three extracts as a taster which will no doubt whet the appetite for more.

The Gothenburg Book Fair 1998
Irene Scobbie

The fourteenth Gothenburg Book Fair took place on October 22-25, 1998, with two focal themes: Literature for Children and Young People; and Cultural Heritage. On this occasion the Book Fair joined forces with the Nordic Museum Fair, which offered the opportunity of many cultural corss references. SBR's Review Editor Irene Scobbie reports from the Fair.
The next Gothenburg Book Fair will take place on September 16-19, 1999.

Thomas Tidholm

tidholm.gif (17760 bytes)Thomas Tidholm, born in Örebro in 1943, made his debut as a poet in 1963. He has since then written numerous volumes of poetry, plays for the stage, television and radio, and children's books with illustrations by his wife, Anna-Clara Tidholm. Gabriella Berggren introduces the work of Thomas Tidholm and presents a series of her translations of his poetry from Friluftsliv i strandområden och andra prosadikter (Outdoor Life in Shoreland Terrain, 1991), in which Tidholm says his aim was to write pseudo-scientific essays in the form of poetry.

Paul Binding
From House with five windows

Paul Binding is a literary journalist and the author of several books, including the novels Harmonica's Bridegroom (1984) and Kingfisher Weather (1989), the prize-winning memoir St Martin's Ride (1990) and critical studies of Eudora Welty (1994) and John Masefield (1998). He writes frequently for the Independent on Sunday and the Times Literary Supplement. In 1996 Paul Binding was granted an award by Sveriges författarfond for services to Swedish literature. The House with Five Windows will be published by Boulevard Press, London, in 1999.

Ordfront förlag

The first in a series featuring Swedish and Finland-Swedish publishing houses is devoted to Stockholm-based Ordfront, which has been remarkably successful in recent years.

smallpettersson.gif (5923 bytes)Jan-Erik Pettersson, Advancing on all fronts
Jan-Erik Petterson took charge of Ordfront in 1998, having been a freelance journalist and editor of Svensk bokhandel, the journal of the Swedish book trade, which also carries a running bibliography of all books published in Sweden. In this article he summarizes the history of Ordfront and suggests some reasons for its success.

Kerstin Gustafsson, Feeling one's way as a translator
Kerstin Gustafsson is one of Sweden's leading literary translators from English. In this article she describes translation classes she teaches for the Ordfront Association, and raises some fascinating questions about differences between English and Swedish, and the art of translation.

Kerstin Gustafsson writes that she would be fascinated to see English versions of the opening sentences of Stig Claesson's Samtal på ett fjärrtåg and Selma Lagerlöf's Charlotte Löwensköld. Well, here are the passages in question! Swedish Book Review invites readers to send in their translations, which will be discussed in the next issue.

Den dagen jag fick reda på att min syster hade dött sken solen. Det var en mycket vacker dag. Det var högsommar och det var högt till himlen, det var torsdag och på lördagen skulle juli börja.

En gång i tiden fanns det i Karlstad en överstinna, som hette Beate Ekenstedt.
Hon var en Löwensköld från Hedeby och alltså född friherrinna, och hon var så fin, och hon var så trevlig, och hon var så bildad, och hon kunde skriva vers, som var likaså roliga som fru Lenngrens.

Please send your translations to The Editor before 17 March 1999; or you could e-mail them to the editor by the same date.

Recent English translations of Swedish literature and a selection of recent books in English on Sweden
Tom Geddes

This is the latest contribution to SBR's running bibliography of Swedish books published in English translation, and books about Sweden in English. The previous update was published in SBR Issue 1995:2.


90tal.gif (15973 bytes)The Swedes have long had a predilection to think in terms of decades, and this often strikes foreigners as being especially true in connection with their approach to literary history. It is easy to raise a smile by wondering how relevant it is to brand a writer as a tjugotalist when the author concerned was still writing in 1960; or to ask how one is to know whether an åttitalist was alive and kicking in the 1880s or the 1980s. But anyone familiar with Swedish literature will know that one of the most influential literary journals in 20th-century Sweden was called 40-tal. Other periodicals have used the decade designation to little effect; but we now seem to have a journal for literature and the arts that has justified its alleged presumption in calling itself 90-TAL. A useful barometer for the significance and self-confidence of literary journals is how they present themselves at literary events: there is no doubt that 90-TAL placed itself in the front rank both at Tidskrifts Biennalen, the "fair" featuring Swedish cultural journals held in Stockholm in May 1998, and at Bokmässan, the Swedish book fair held in Gothenburg in October 1998. To state that as fact would be less interesting if the journal itself did not live up to its pretensions: but it is a pleasure to affirm that it does. 90TAL has established itself as a significant voice proclaiming Swedish literature and culture in the 1990s. (It will be interesting, to say the least, to see how it extends its life into the next century...) Swedish Book Review will be presenting 90TAL in more detail in a future issue. If readers are unfamiliar with 90TAL but can read Swedish and wish to be informed about contemporary literature in Sweden, they could do much worse than subscribe:
Tidskriften 90TAL, Box 190 74, 104 32 Stockholm, Sweden; Fax +46 8 612 1077; e-mail

European Translation Centres

Issue No 7, 1998, of the Finnish publication Kääntäjä - Översättaren (The Translator) contains a survey of "translation centres" in various parts of Europe, with brief presentations of each one - various languages are used, including Finnish, Swedish, English and German. Most of the centres have residential facilities as well as libraries and resource centres, and they now exist in Straelen (Germany), Rhodes (Greece), Amsterdam (Holland), Budapest (Hungary), Norwich (England), Dilbeek (Belgium), Tarazona (Spain), Newbliss (Ireland), Naples (Italy), Albufera (Portugal), Bratislava (Slovakia), Arles (France), and - most interesting of all for translators from Swedish - Visby (Gotland): this latter establishment is known as Östersjöns författar- och översättarcentrum, and is intended as a centre for authors and translators in the area surrounding the Baltic Sea, including Sweden. For more information on the last-mentioned centre, contact:
Gunilla Forsén, tel. +46 498 218764, fax +46 498 218798, or consult their website.

© Copyright 1999 Swedish Book Review.

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Our cover pictures are taken from the book Grindar, staket och plank (Gates, Railings and Fences), with text and photographs by Hans Mårtensson, published by Rabén Prisma in 1998.

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Hans Mårtensson is an interior designer and architect, and has developed a special interest in traditional garden gates and fences, travalling the length and breadth of Sweden in order to record in words and pictures a fascinating cultural heritage which, unfortunately, seems to be in decline. A moment's thought will convince foreign visitors to Sweden that one of the aspects that combine to form the impression of memories "typically Swedish" is the way in which the (usually) wooden fences and gates, often painted white, contrast yet blend prettily with the red or yellow-painted houses they are generally associated with.

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The fashion for these beautiful pieces of craftmanship was at its height in the nineteenth century, especially in the "garden cities" based on English models; but there are many variations, not least in well-preserved Swedish seaside resorts. Mårtensson regrets that with the advent of strict building regulations as the twentieth century progressed (when wooden fences were restricted as a fire hazard!) and the advent of smaller plots with houses placed in the centre of them in an open-plan estate, the old tradition has waned. But it is preserved in many places, and Mårtensson would like to see it revived as we move into the twenty-first century in a spirit that attaches great value to cultural traditions and the desire to preserve them. He even supplies advice on how to protect and replace old fences and gates: let us hope that many readers take his advice - and that those of us outside Sweden who value such traditions might be moved to emulate them in our own environment. The book is a treasure trove of stimulating and nostalgic pictures, of which the two we reproduce on our covers are only a tiny proportion of the 180 in the original.
ISBN 91-518-3158-9.
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The fifteenth World Congress on Translation will be held in Mons, Belgium, on 6-10 August 1999. The registration fee is approx US$ 400 (depending on when one registers - it is cheaper before March 31, more expensive after that date). To obtain a brochure, registration form, programme and list of hotels and tours, contact:
Congrès FIT 1999 Congress,
Ecole d'Interprètes Internationaux,
17 avenue du Champ de Mars,
7000 MONS,
or e-mail to The Internet address is


An initiative stemming from Professor Robert Bjork, Arizona State University, has led to the setting up of the Scandinavian Translation Association in the USA. Their aims are: to organize translators, to make translations from the Scandinavian languages available to the general public (including business enterprises), to compile a register of translators, and to establish a database comprising translations into English of Swedish originals. (It should be stressed that this summary is that of an outside observer, rather than their own!) The steering committee will consist of Professor Bjork, Professor Ross Shideler (UCLA), Professor Rochelle Wright (University of Illinois) and Professor Kim Andersson (Washington State University).
STA hopes also to establish courses leading to a diploma in translation from Scandinavian languages, and to publish translations. For more information, contact:
Monica von Eggers,
Arizona State University,
Languages & Literature,
AZ 8587-0202
Cajsa C Stenberg,
3730 S Mill Avenue, G209,
AZ 85282