Scandinavian Literature in Translation || Littérature scandinave en traduction

Archive for May 2009

Heðin Brú: The Old Man and His Sons

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New edition:

The Old Man and His Sons
Heðin Brú
Telegram Books
ISBN 978-1-84659-073-3
1 February 2010
$16.50 in Canada


These are the Faroe Islands as they were some fifty years ago: sea–washed and remote, with one generation still tied to the sea for sustenance, and a younger generation turning towards commerce and clerical work in the towns.

At the post–hunt whale–meat auction, the normally cautious Ketil enthusiastically bids for more meat than he can afford. Thus in his seventieth year, Ketil and his wife, along with their youngest son, struggle to repay their debt. They scavenge for driftwood and stranded seals, and knit up a storm of jumpers to sell in town.

A touching novel that deftly captures a vanishing way of life.

Written by Thomas

2009-05-17 at 16:50

Karin Alvtegen: Shadow

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Karin Alvtegen
Canongate Books
ISBN 978-1-84767-478-4
Canadian publication March 2010

Translated from the Swedish by McKinley Burnett

En français : Ténébreuses


In a nondescript apartment block in Stockholm, most of the residents are elderly. Usually a death is a sad but straightforward event. But sometimes a resident will die and there are no friends or family to contact. This is when Marianne Folkesson arrives, employed by the state to close up a life with dignity and respect. Gerda Persson has lain dead in her apartment for three days before Marianne is called. When she arrives, she finds the apartment tidy and ordered. Gerda’s life seems to have been quite ordinary. Until Marianne opens the freezer and finds it full of books, neatly stacked and wrapped in clingfilm, a thick layer of ice covering them. They are all by Axel Ragnerfeldt, winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature, with handwritten dedications to Gerda from the author. What story do these books have to tell, about Gerda, and more importantly about Ragnerfeldt, a man whose fame is without precedent in the nation’s cultural life, but seldom gives interviews?

Shadow is an utterly compelling novel about the lengths and depths people can be driven in order to achieve fame and acclaim, and the effect that this has on those closest to them. It is a story of dark family secrets, and the power of writing, involving murder, betrayal and the holocaust, which will keep readers gripped until its final thrilling revelations.

Written by Thomas

2009-05-17 at 16:27

Klas Östergren: The Hurricane Party

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The Hurricane Party
Klas Östergren
Canongate Books
ISBN 978-1-84767-258-2
22 September 2009
$28.00 in Canada


Hanck Orn’s son is dead. When they come to the door they tell him it was a heart attack, but he knows they’re lying. So he travels to the outermost reaches of the land to find out what really happened. When he lands on the island he’s met by a young woman, hair streaked with blood, raving like a lunatic. She’s one of the sisters who tell him the story of how his son died in the great hall of the Clan, the Norse gods, who were holding a party. But the festivities soon got out of hand, the guests began to argue with one another, and the mischievous shapeshifter Loki dealt a deadly blow.

Set in a dystopian future that recalls Orwell and Zamyatin, Klas Östergren has weaved a dizzying story of magnificent scope and foul play. Moving from the golden halls to the depths of the underworld, it is about one man’s search for justice for his son in a world on the brink. A place where true love is so strong it can bring about the end of time.

Written by Thomas

2009-05-17 at 16:06

Henrik Ibsen: A Doll’s House (Methuen)

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New edition:

A Doll’s House
Henrik Ibsen
Methuen Drama
ISBN 978-1-4081-0602-0
1 May 2009
$16.50 in Canada


A revised Methuen Student Edition of the classic set text A Doll’s House (1879), this is a masterpiece of theatrical craft that for the first time portrayed the tragic hypocrisy of Victorian middle-class marriage on stage. The play ushered in a new social era and “exploded like a bomb into contemporary life.”

Written by Thomas

2009-05-17 at 15:51

Henrik Ibsen: An Enemy of the People – The Wild Duck – Rosmersholm

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New edition:

An Enemy of the People – The Wild Duck – Rosmersholm
Henrik Ibsen
Oxford University Press
ISBN 978-0-19-953913-0
26 April 2009
$13.95 in Canada


Written in the aftermath of hostile criticism of Ghosts, Ibsen’s three plays all deal with the moral courage needed to tell the truth. They are peopled not by symbolic figures and abstract concepts, but by complex individuals pitted against, or part of, a society that Ibsen felt was morally abhorrent and claustrophobically provincial.

Written by Thomas

2009-05-17 at 15:41

Jo Nesbø : Chasseurs de têtes

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By my reckoning, Gallimard is now two Nesbø books ahead of Random House, as Snømannen (Le bonhomme de neige) and now Hodejegerne (Chasseurs de têtes) are still not available in English.

Chasseurs de têtes
Jo Nesbø
Gallimard, « Série noire »
ISBN 978-2-07-012246-2
25 mai 2009
29,95 $ au Canada


Roger Brown le répète à qui veut l’entendre : il est le meilleur chasseur de têtes de toute la Norvège. Pas un collègue ne lui arrive à la cheville, et quand il décroche son téléphone, tous les DRH du pays ont le doigt sur la couture. Mais il faut toujours se méfier des apparences, même au sommet de la société. Roger Brown vit au-dessus de ses moyens : sa villa est trop grande et sa femme bien trop belle. Sans parler de la galerie d’art de cette dernière qui engloutit toutes ses finances. Il n’a donc pas le choix : alors que ses richissimes clients sont convoqués à des rendez-vous professionnels qu’il a lui-même mis sur pied, il en profite pour s’introduire chez eux et leur voler leurs œuvres d’art. Un jour, le candidat parfait se présente : le Néerlandais Clas Greve. Ancien militaire spécialiste de la technologie GPS, il possède le profil idéal, ainsi qu’un Rubens. Si Roger Brown réussit à mettre la main sur ce tableau, ses problèmes financiers seront réglés. Et son épouse sera sienne pour toujours… Mais Roger va bien vite comprendre que, dans cette histoire, tout le monde veut quelque chose, et que personne n’a rien gratuitement. Pas sans tuer…

La chasse aux têtes est ouverte !

Written by Thomas

2009-05-02 at 17:35

Grettir’s Saga

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New translation:

Grettir’s Saga
Translated by Jesse Byock
Oxford University Press
ISBN 978-0-19-280152-4
July 2009
$19.95 in Canada


‘You will be made an outlaw, forced always to live in the wilds and to live alone.’

A sweeping epic of the Viking Age, Grettir’s Saga follows the life of the outlaw Grettir the Strong as he battles against sorcery, bad luck, and the vengefulness of his enemies. Feared by many, Grettir is a warrior and also a poet and a lover, who is afraid of the dark. Unable to resolve the dispute that has outlawed him, he lives outside the bounds of family life and he roams the countryside, ridding Iceland and Norway of berserker warriors, trolls, and the walking dead.

The saga presents a poignant story of medieval Icelandic society, combining details of everyday legal disputes with folklore and legend. Written in the fourteenth century, but based on earlier oral and written sources, Grettir’s Saga, with its scathing humour, explicit verses, and fantastic monsters, is among the most famous and widely read of Iceland’s sagas.

This new translation features extensive illustrative material to elucidate the story.

See also: Icelandic Sagas Bibliography Project

Written by Thomas

2009-05-02 at 17:08

Aase Berg: With Deer

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With Deer
Aase Berg
Black Ocean
ISBN 978-0-977770-97-7
23 March 2009
$15.95 in Canada


In this, her first single-volume collection to be published in English, Aase Berg works a wicked necromancy in her poems. Filling each page with fluids and viscera she plunges into the palpable, pulsating center of our psyche–pulling up fistfuls of nightmares at once strange and familiar. To read this book is to glimpse the ecstasy you always suspected lay at the heart of every rapturous horror.

With Deer (Hos radjur) was Berg’s first full-length book of poetry, originally published in Sweden in 1996. Since then she has published four more books in her native language, exploring the divine terror throbbing beneath the surface of a naturalistic and barely human world.

“Oh, you have taken it too far, Aase Berg, on this field trip to dismember an apocalyptic body that is self-bomb, culture-bomb; you are scratching at the interior of the bomb that has no exterior. Amusedly, bombastically, terrifyingly you scratch. Johannes Gorannson’s translation is lush and boldly guttural and the two of you have my intestines by a leash.

‘One by one you turned my faces up/toward the sun’s surface/and drank them like deer water’”

–Cathy Wagner

Written by Thomas

2009-05-02 at 16:57

Arnaldur Indriðason : L’homme du lac (poche)

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Prochainement en format poche :

L’homme du lac
Arnaldur Indriðason
Seuil, « Points. Policiers »
ISBN 978-2-7578-1287-7
22 juin 2009
16,95 $ au Canada

Voir aussi : édition grand format
In English: The Draining Lake


À la suite des tremblements de terre d’Islande en juin 2000, le lac de Kleifarvatn se vide peu à peu. Une géologue chargée de mesurer le niveau de l’eau découvre sur le fond asséché un squelette lesté par un émetteur radio portant des inscriptions en caractères cyrilliques à demi effacés. Erlendur et son équipe sont chargés de l’enquête.

Written by Thomas

2009-05-02 at 16:33

August Strindberg : Le bouc émissaire

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Le bouc émissaire
August Strindberg
Viviane Hamy, « Bis »
ISBN 978-2-87858-293-2
2 juin 2009
18,95 $ au Canada


Libotz, le bouc émissaire, ne parvient pas à sauver son ami Askanius du désastre déclenché par le procureur Tjärne, pas plus qu’il ne parvient à se faire accepter dans la petite ville de province. Il part, il « supporte les coups du destin, l’un après l’autre, sans laisser s’éteindre son espoir tout ensanglanté ».

Sven Stolpe, le biographe de Strindberg, a écrit que Le Bouc émissaire était « l’un des plus grands récits jamais écrits en langue suédoise, qu’il n’avait pas été surpassé par la suite, ni même égalé».

Written by Thomas

2009-05-02 at 16:20