SkandiLit

Scandinavian Literature in Translation || Littérature scandinave en traduction

Archive for December 2009

Tove Jansson: The True Deceiver

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The True Deceiver
Tove Jansson
New York Review of Books
ISBN 978-1-59017-329-9
8 December 2009
$18.95 in Canada

Deception—the lies we tell ourselves and the lies we tell others—is the subject of this, Tove Jansson’s most unnerving and unpredictable novel. Here Jansson takes a darker look at the subjects that animate the best of her work, from her sensitive tale of island life, The Summer Book, to her famous Moomin stories: solitude and community, art and life, love and hate.

Snow has been falling on the village all winter long. It covers windows and piles up in front of doors. The sun rises late and sets early, and even during the day there is little to do but trade tales. This year everybody’s talking about Katri Kling and Anna Aemelin. Katri is a yellow-eyed outcast who lives with her simpleminded brother and a dog she refuses to name. She has no use for the white lies that smooth social intercourse, and she can see straight to the core of any problem. Anna, an elderly children’s book illustrator, appears to be Katri’s opposite: a respected member of the village, if an aloof one. Anna lives in a large empty house, venturing out in the spring to paint exquisitely detailed forest scenes. But Anna has something Katri wants, and to get it Katri will take control of Anna’s life and livelihood. By the time spring arrives, the two women are caught in a conflict of ideals that threatens to strip them of their most cherished illusions.

See also: Tove Jansson Moomin reissues, published right here in Montreal by Drawn & Quarterly.

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Written by Thomas

2009-12-18 at 23:03

Anders Roslund & Börge Hellström: Box 21

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Box 21
Anders Roslund & Börge Hellström
Farrar, Straus & Giroux (Sarah Crichton Books)
ISBN 978-0-374-28295-0
October 2009
$32.50 in Canada
{Uncredited translation from the Swedish}

Also published in the United Kingdom as The Vault (2008)

The International Thriller that Stockholm City hailed as the Best Crime Novel of the Year has finally crossed the Atlantic!

Three years ago, Lydia and Alena were two hopeful girls from Lithuania. Now they are sex slaves, lured to Sweden with the promise of better jobs and then trapped in a Stockholm brothel, forced to repay their “debt.” Suddenly they are given an unexpected chance at freedom, and with it the opportunity to take revenge on their enslavers and reclaim the lives and dignity they once had. What will happen now that the tables are turned and the victims fight back?

In this masterful thriller, the celebrated team of Anders Roslund and Börge Hellström delve into the seedy underbelly of Stockholm. There we meet Lydia and Alena as they embark on a desperate plan to expose their captor and demand justice; police officers Sundkvist and Grens, on the trail of both Lydia’s enslavers and Jochum Lang, a notorious mob enforcer; and Hilding Oldéus, a junkie on what might be his last—and most destructive—bender. At the Söder Hospital, their destinies begin to converge in unexpected and explosive ways.

Box 21 is a Scandinavian thriller of the highest order: a mindblowing psychological drama written with powerful intensity. When it was published in Sweden, Solo called it “suspenseful, gripping, and intelligently written . . . Almost impossible to put down,” while SVT exclaimed: “Forget crime literature; this is, simply put, great literature!”

Written by Thomas

2009-12-18 at 22:31

Göran Sonnevi: Mozart’s Third Brain

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Mozart’s Third Brain
Göran Sonnevi
Yale University Press
ISBN 978-0-300-14580-9
14 Spetember 2009
USD 25.00

Winner of the 2006 Nordic Council’s Literature Prize, Swedish writer Göran Sonnevi is undoubtedly one of the most important poets working today. In Mozart’s Third Brain, his thirteenth book of verse, he attempts “a commentary on everything” – politics, current events, mathematics, love, ethics, music, philosophy, nature. Through the impeccable skill of award-winning translator Rika Lesser, Sonnevi’s long-form poem comes to life in English with the full force of its loose, fractured, and radiating intensity.

A poetic tour de force that darts about dynamically and imaginatively, Mozart’s Third Brain weaves an elaborate web of associations as the poet tries to integrate his private consciousness with the world around him. Through Lesser’s translation and preface, and an enlightening foreword by Rosanna Warren, readers of English will finally gain access to this masterpiece.

Born in 1939 in Lund, Sweden, Göran Sonnevi is the author of fifteen books of poems and a volume of poetry in translation.

Written by Thomas

2009-12-18 at 22:17

Linn Ullmann: A Blessed Child (paperback)

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Now in paperback:

A Blessed Child
Linn Ullmann
Anchor
ISBN 978-0-307-27781-7
11 August 2009
$19.95 in Canada

See also: hardback edition

A Blessed Child is a haunting parable of innocence lost from the internationally acclaimed author of Grace and Stella Descending.

Every summer Isak Lövenstad gathers his three daughters by different wives to the windswept Baltic island of Hammarsö. Here Erika, Laura, and Molly find a sense of family and friendship, although nothing can match Erika’s connection to the rebellious misfit Ragnar. But when an act of senseless cruelty separates them forever—and drives the sisters from the island in shame and regret—they must leave childhood and their growing relationships behind. Now, twenty-five years later, they return to visit their ailing father and confront the specter of that awful summer.

Written by Thomas

2009-12-18 at 22:09

Tom Egeland: The Guardians of the Covenant

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The Guardians of the Covenant
Tom Egeland
John Murray
ISBN 978-0-7195-2143-0
13 July 2009
$24.95 in Canada

En français : Les gardiens de l’Alliance

In the year 1013, Viking warriors raided an Egyptian tomb and unknowingly stole the greatest secret of the Old Testament. When a quirky archaeologist finds ancient Viking parchments containing runes and riddles, his mundane life is changed for good.

These codes lead him on a quest for clues in mysterious places, from Egyptian tombs to antiquarian bookshops. Powerful forces are against him, but he manages to unveil a religious cover-up with potentially fatal consequences.

Written by Thomas

2009-12-18 at 21:59

Lars Saabye Christensen: Beatles

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Beatles
Lars Saabye Christensen
Arcadia Books
ISBN 978-1-906413-07-1
April 2010
$17.95 in Canada

En français : Beatles

Four young Norwegians ride the first wave of Beatlemania in the spring of 1965 in this thoughtful yet playful novel. Kim Karlsen and his three buddies Gunnar, Ola, and Seb are obsessed with their musical heroes, and they even like to think of themselves as the Fab Four. Through the years, they play a lot of soccer, drink even more, and fall in and out of love. The result is a winsome chronicle of a generation, the youthful struggles and discoveries of the protagonists, and of growing up in a very special time.

Lars Christensen is the author of 12 novels, including The Half Brother, Herman, and The Model.

Written by Thomas

2009-12-18 at 00:48

Gyðir Elíasson: Stone Tree

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Stone Tree
Gyðir Elíasson
Comma Press
ISBN 978-1-905583-08-9
September 2009
$17.95 in Canada

Along the lonely western shores of Iceland, among its vast mountain ranges and its barren lava fields, this sublime collection of short stories blends the desires and efforts of its numerous protagonists, nearly all intent on taking leave of their normal lives in order to pursue their dreams more seriously. A Boston ornithologist speeds through the landscape in a four-by-four chasing Arctic Terns; a schoolboy is relocated to the northernmost town of Siglufjördur to compete in a chess tournament; and a husband packs his wife off to visit her aunt in Sweden. Despite the desolation of their surroundings, the characters encounter strange company: ghostly presences in the early hours, enviable neighbors, and fellow writers with remarkably similar ambitions. Plotting a constellation of singular, glittering images that are rendered nonetheless complete, this magnificent compilation intersects the paths of its characters, who are at once isolated in their individual pursuits and yet connected in the vast realm of dreams.

Gyrðir Elíasson is a writer and a translator. His collection, The Yellow House, was awarded the Icelandic Literature Prize and the Halldor Laxnes Prize for Literature in 2000.

Written by Thomas

2009-12-18 at 00:41