2019:1&2 Issue

Editorial2019:12 Issue

This bumper double issue of Swedish Book Review holds a wealth of contemporary Swedish prose writing, ranging from a novel by a debut writer to a book by one of Sweden’s most established and esteemed authors.

Our first two extracts offer very different perspectives on the way people are often defined in today’s world – by moving or staying put. Kerstin Ekman’s latest book is a series of short essays on diverse subjects, expressing her deep concerns for our planet and inspired by the almost unnoticed changes that occur when we spend many years in the same place. In contrast, Hannele Mikaele Taivassalo’s poetic novel focuses on constant movement, travelling, always being on the way to somewhere else.

The journey from adolescence to adulthood features in Marie Hermanson’s delightful novel about a young man living in his father’s shadow and in Emma Holm’s beautifully written debut novel about growing from girlhood to adulthood.We also have a tale of rural horror by writer Magnus Dahlström and one of psychological suspense by Jonas Brun.

In a story set in the first half of the twentieth century, Johanna Holmström creates a rich and immensely moving novel about the fate of women in psychiatric hospitals and the definition of their madness. And in his latest book for children and young adults, award-winning writer Per Nilsson approaches difficult life issues with his usual warmth and clarity.

Our review of Julie at the National Theatre in London in 2018 examines Polly Stenham’s contemporary interpretation of Strindberg’s Fröken Julie and the modern question of an individual’s alienation from society.

Translator Marlaine Delargy is interviewed for SBR after her exciting win at the Dagger Awards at the end of 2018. And we also publish an interview with Susanne Bergström Larsson, Head of Swedish Literature Exchange at the Swedish Arts Council, who gives us an insight into her work promoting Swedish literature abroad.

Finally, our reviewers provide another fascinating glimpse into the huge variety of excellent books recently published in Swedish.


from Gubba's Field

Introduced and translated by Linda Schenck

Kerstin Ekman has figured regularly in Swedish Book Review since its inception in 1983 (including a Kerstin Ekman supplement in 1995). At 85, she remains among the most prominent living Swedish authors. Her latest book, Gubbas hage, is as close as she is likely to come to writing a memoir. She paints a picture of a life in which flora and fauna are central and omnipresent, taking her examples from the various places she has lived and in anticipation of the future of our planet, about which she is extremely concerned. It is also a tribute to all that lives and grows out of doors.


from In Transit

Translated by Sarah Death

Finland-Swedish author Hannele Mikaela Taivassalo has written novels, short stories, theatre and radio drama and children’s books. Her 2016 novel In Transit is a poetic reflection on a question very much of our time: of people constantly moving, of being a stranger wherever you are and yet being at home everywhere.


from Homestead

Translated by Neil Smith

Writer Magnus Dahlström has achieved success as a novelist and dramatist. His latest book is a carefully crafted tale of horror and suspense and has been received with much acclaim in Sweden.The characters form a large cast of people in a rural community and the narrative switches from one to another. At the centre is Majvor, to whom we are introduced at the beginning.


'Earning a living as a translator is a lot better than telling teenagers to take their coats off and put their mobile phones away'

Interview by Ian Giles

Marlaine Delargy studied Swedish and German at the University College of Wales, Aberystwyth, where the late Laurie Thompson – founding editor of Swedish Book Review – was her tutor. She has been shortlisted for the Crime Writers’ Association International Dagger on four different occasions and has won twice – most recently in 2018 for her translation of Henning Mankell’s After the Fire. She is about to start work on her fiftieth novel translation.


from The Mushroom King's Son

Translated by Lo Nathamundi

Marie Hermanson’s books have been described as fairy tales for grown-ups. The protagonist in this novel lives in the shadow of his famous mycologist father. At the heart of this charming story of a son’s sexual awakening and his father’s womanising lies a warm innocence and humour – and the wonder of the mushroom.


from The Road North

Translated by Annie Prime

Emma Holm’s debut novel met with enthusiastic reviews when it was published in 2017 and her elegant, sensitive writing was widely praised. This eloquent, intimate story – of friendship, guilt, sexuality and revenge – begins as Vera and Iris, old friends who have grown apart, embark on a road trip to the north and a painful journey from adolescence to womanhood.


Fröken Julie in the Twenty-First Century

SELTA member Joanna Flower looks at translation issues in Strindberg’s classic play in response to criticisms of Polly Stenham’s new version, which was performed at the National Theatre (Lyttleton), London, from 31 May – 8 September 2018.


from Själarnas ö (Island of Souls)

Translated and introduced by Fiona Graham

In this ambitious historical novel, spanning more than a  century  and  based  on  real  case  histories, Johanna Holmström vividly depicts the lives of three very different women: Kristina, Elli and Sigrid. The link between them is the ‘island of souls’ in the Nagu Archipelago off Åbo/Turku (Finland), the site of an asylum for female psychiatric patients.


from Som sparv som örn (Like a sparrow, like an eagle)

Translated by B J Epstein

Per Nilsson has won many awards for his books for children and young adults and has been praised for the warmth, humour and simplicity with which he writes about complex issues. In this novel we meet Be and Enneka, two thirteen-year-old girls whose lives are outwardly very different. Like the sparrow and the eagle…


from Nobody Compared to You

Introduced and translated by Andy Turner

Brun’s disquieting and engrossing tale of psychological suspense covers a history uniting past and present with secrets and truth. Some twenty years after their paths first crossed, the main characters Stewe and John come face to face at Stewe’s isolated house deep in the Swedish forest. Their previous clandestine relationship is opened up and a mystery they have shared about a catastrophic fire in the 1990s resurfaces.


'Translators are both the engines and cogs that make up the machine. Without them, there are no translations'. An interview with Susanne Bergström Larsson

Interview by Ian Giles

Susanne Bergström Larsson is a self-confessed literary scholar at heart, but an encounter with Publishing Studies during her university days made her realise that the publishing industry was where she was destined to be. After graduating, she worked for Alfabeta Bokförlag, where she was responsible for foreign rights sales, before moving on to join the team that established Bonnier Group Agency. In 2012, she joined the Swedish Arts Council where she is Head of Swedish Literature Exchange.


Bernard Shaw Prize for Swedish Translation 2018

The triennial Bernard Shaw Prize for Swedish Translation 2018 has been awarded to Frank Perry for his translation of Bret Easton Ellis and the Other Dogs by Lina Wolff (And Other Stories). Deborah Bragan-Turner’s translation of The Parable Book by Per Olov Enquist (MacLehose Press) was runner-up.


In Memoriam: Steven T Murray

Paul Norlen presents a tribute to Steven T Murray, who died in 2018.

BOOKSHELF: REVIEWS, edited by Fiona Graham

Breven från MaresiMaria Turtschaninoff, Breven från Maresi (Maresi Red Mantle)

Förlaget (Finland), 2018.

Reviewed by Mia Österlund ▸Read Review

Norra LatinSara Bergmark Elfgren, Norra Latin (In Dreams)

Rabén & Sjögren, 2017.

Reviewed by Joanna Flower ▸Read Review

Tjuren från SolnaGunnar Ardelius, Tjuren från Solna (The Bull from Solna)

Natur och Kultur, 2018.

Reviewed by Ian Giles ▸Read Review

Pärlfiskaren: Legenden om ögonstenenKarin Erlandsson, Pärlfiskaren: Legenden om ögonstenen (The Pearl Fisher: the Legend of the Eyestone)

Schilds & Söderströms (Finland), 2017.

Reviewed by Charlotte Berry ▸Read Review

Vi kommer snart hem igenJessica Bab Bonde and Peter Bergting, Vi kommer snart hem igen (We'll Be Home Again Soon)

Natur och Kultur, 2018.

Reviewed by Fiona Graham ▸Read Review

ScandoramaHannele Mikaela Taivassalo and Catherine Anyango Grünewald, Scandorama

Förlaget (Finland), 2018.

Reviewed by B J Epstein ▸Read Review

Nordisk FaunaAndrea Lundgren, Nordisk Fauna (Nordic Fauna)

Natur och Kultur, 2018.

Reviewed by Alex Fleming ▸Read Review

Geniet från BreslauLena Einhorn, Geniet från Breslau (The Genius from Breslau)

Natur och Kultur, 2018.

Reviewed by Darcy Hurford ▸Read Review

InlandetElin Willows, Inlandet (Hinterland)

Natur och Kultur, 2018.

Reviewed by Hannah Charlton ▸Read Review

Sången om en sonJoel Mauricio Isabel Ortiz, Sången om en son (The Song of a Son)

Norstedts, 2018.

Reviewed by Andy Turner ▸Read Review

Sju GrenarKatarina Frostenson, Sju Grenar (Seven Branches)

Wahlström & Widstrand, 2018.

Reviewed by Brad Harmon ▸Read Review

Huset med de två tornenMaciej Zaremba, Huset med de två tornen (The House with the Two Towers)

Weyler förlag, 2018.

Reviewed by Fiona Graham ▸Read Review

Orbánistan. Rädsla och avsky i det illiberala UngernJoakim Medin, Orbánistan. Rädsla och avsky i det illiberala Ungern (Orbánistan. Fear and Loathing in Illiberal Hungary)

Verbal, 2018.

Reviewed by Anna Paterson ▸Read Review

NuckanMalin Lindroth, Nuckan (The Spinster)

Norstedts, 2018.

Reviewed by Fiona Graham ▸Read Review

Orden som formade SverigeElisabeth Åsbrink, Orden som formade Sverige (The Words that Formed Sweden)

Natur och Kultur, 2018.

Reviewed by Irene Scobbie ▸Read Review

Mannen i skogen: en biografi över Vilhelm MobergJens Liljestrand, Mannen i skogen: en biografi över Vilhelm Moberg (The Man in the Woods: A Biography of Vilhelm Moberg)

Albert Bonniers förlag, 2018.

Reviewed by Kate Lambert ▸Read Review

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Issue 2019-12

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