Scandinavian Literature in Translation || Littérature scandinave en traduction

Katarina Mazetti: Benny and Shrimp

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Benny and Shrimp
Katarina Mazetti
Short Books
ISBN 978-1-906021-36-8
5 February 2009
$15.00 in Canada

ISBN 978-0-14-311599-1
29 July 2009
$17.50 in Canada

N.B. – The above information is predicated on the hypothesis that this UK edition will indeed be imported into the Canadian market. Penguin USA have their own American edition planned for July 2009 (ISBN 978-0-14-311599-1), and as Penguin Canada distribute both Short Books and Penguin USA, it is not clear whether it will be the British or American edition that will ultimately make it to Canada.

Short Books hold UK+Commonwealth rights on this title, but when it suits them publishers and distributors will often forget that Canada is part of the Commonwealth. Since the previous edition from Short Books (ISBN 978-1-904977-41-4) didn’t make it over to Canada, it’s hard to be overly optimistic on this one, but one simply never knows.

Update 2009-01-20: Penguuin Canada sent us the Summer 2009 catalogues late last week, and in the Penguin USA Summer 2009 catalogue (pages 74-75), the American edition of Benny and Shrimp mentioned above (complete with an absolutely horrid cover design, as usual) is listed as ‘NCR’ which, in bookseller lingo, means not for sale in Canada. So I’m thinking hooray!, the British edition will be available over here after all. But then today I was informed by Short Books that, even though they claim on their website to hold the Commonwealth rights for this title, they don’t consider Canada to be part of the Commonwealth (news to me!), so they won’t be making their edition available in Canada either. If this is how they’re going to treat us (whether it’s ignorance or contempt, it’s not very pleasant), I don’t know why we should keep Liz as our head of state. I’ve got a message into Penguin Canada asking for an explanation but, as things stand right now, this book will not be available in Canada. Have to read it in French I suppose.

Update 2009-01-23: This week it has been confirmed by both Short Books and Penguin Canada that it will indeed by the American edition that will be imported into Canada, and that the ‘NCR’ status in the Penguin USA catalogue is an error. Not only will we have to wait several months for Penguin USA to get around to releasing it over here but, when they finally do, our patience will be rewarded with an impossibly unattractive made in the USA cover design. A veritable kick in the teeth, it has to be said…

En français : Le mec de la tombe d’à côté


Why is it so impossible to get a relationship to work between two mature single people, driven by an enormous longing and loudly ticking biological clocks? Especially when they are struck by a totally unexpected passion when they first meet…

In alternate chapters, Benny and “Shrimp” tell the story of a love that started by mistake in a village cemetery, a love that should not really be as complicated as it seems. She is a childless young widow with a sharp intellect and a home so tidy that even her jam jars are in alphabetical order. He is a gentle, overworked milk farmer, a reluctant loner, who fears becoming the village’s Old Bachelor. The attraction between them is powerful. But how will she learn to accept that he falls asleep at the opera and has a house full of his mother’s embroidered wall hangings, and how could he ever feel at home in her minimalist apartment, bare as a dentist’s waiting room?

In Benny & Shrimp, Katarina Mazetti brilliantly captures the intensity of an unexpected love affair, and the heartbreaking inevitability with which life tends to get in the way.


An international sensation, this addictively readable tale asks the question: Why is it so impossible to get a relationship between two middle-aged misfits to work? The answer lies in the story of Shrimp, a young widowed librarian with a sharp intellect and a home so tidy that her jam jars are in alphabetical order; Benny, a gentle, overworked milk farmer who fears becoming the village’s Old Bachelor; and an unlikely love that should not be as complicated as it seems. Reminiscent of the works of Carol Shields, this quirky, humorous, beautifully told novel breathes new life into the age-old conundrum that is love.

Written by Thomas

2008-12-28 at 15:29

One Response

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  1. […] American cover design, nor the fact that we live under the thumb of their publishing industry. Benny and Shrimp is a Swedish novel by Katarina Mazetti, published by Short Books of London with an attractive […]

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