Editorial by Marlaine Delargy
A few years ago, it seemed that reading amongst young people in this country was in something of a decline, as the appeal of the computer and the Play Station grew. Then along came a boy called Harry Potter, and suddenly children (and adults!) everywhere were immersed in a world of magic and fantasy, queuing at midnight to secure their copy of the next in the series; even ultra-cool 15-year-old boys in Year 10 were threatening to batter anybody who told them the ending of the story before they had the chance to read it for themselves. Critical opinion on J K Rowling’s books may be divided, but their impact on reading in Britain has been significant.
As Birgitta Fransson points out in her article, children’s books enjoy a high profile in Sweden; one only has to consider the very existence of organizations such as Svenska barnboksinstitutet (The Swedish Institute of Chldren’s Books) and Barnboksakademin (The Academy of Children’s Books). However, as Barnboksinstitutet acknowledges in its analysis of trends in 2004, a new genre has gradually sneaked in between the traditional children’s book and adult fiction, characterized by more challenging themes, older protagonists, and a more adult approach. In her article, Maria Nikolajeva considers contemporary fiction for young adults, and poses some interesting questions about the depiction of male and female characters. Are these books reflecting society, or providing young people with role models?
It has not been a simple task to choose authors and extracts for this supplement; should we go for romance? Adventure? Mystery? Stories focusing on sport? Humour? The final mixture might not please everyone, but includes black humour, laid-back wit, energy, a pragmatic approach to life’s little difficulties, and an unshakeable social conscience.
It is to be hoped that readers will not be offended by some of the language used in these translations; it is unlikely that the f-word count has ever been quite so high within the pages of Swedish Book Review! However, all the translators felt it was important to reflect the language used by young people. As we all know, language is constantly evolving, and there is no doubt that words to which many of us react with shock and distaste are used in everyday conversation by teenagers, with no intent to offend – that’s just the way they talk. They usually know where to draw the line when interacting with adults, but within these texts they are talking to each other.
A very positive development with regard to raising the profile of books in translation for children and young people has been the publication of Outside In (ed. Deborah Hallford & Edgardo Zaghini) in conjunction with the Outside In Roadshow; the book has been very well received, and is highly recommended to anyone interested in expanding their horizons in this area.
- Girls Take Over in Swedish Young Adult Fiction
- from Little Marie
Mats Wahl (translated by Susan Beard)
- from The Stars Are Shining on the Ceiling
Johanna Thydell (translated by Bettina Saarela)
- from Lina's Noctury
Emma Hamberg (translated by Bettina Saarela)
- from Sandor Slash Ida
Sara Kadefors (translated by Bettina Saarela)
- from Not a Greek God, Exactly
Katarina Kieri (translated by Susan Beard)
- The Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award
Birgitta Fransson (translated Birgitta Thompson)
- The Marsh Award
- from A Sk8er's Diary
Andreas Soneryd (translated by Henning Koch)
- from When Nobody is Looking
Karin Holmlund (translated by Marlaine Delargy)
- from Dogge
Mikael Engström (translated by Neil Smith)
- from Life According to Rosa and a Boy Called Ville
Måns Gahrton & Johan Unenge (translated by Marlaine Delargy)
- from Habib: The Meaning of Life
Douglas Foley (translated by Marlaine Delargy)
- Henning Mankell on African Poverty and Aids: Not in Front of the Children?
- Book Review: Outside In. Children's Books in Translation