Deborah Bragan-Turner

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2008:1 Issue

Translation Support is back!
In this issue Helen Sigeland, Literature Officer with the Swedish Arts Council, outlines how the Council has assumed responsibility for the promotion of Swedish literature at international level.
· Full article available online

Swedish Book Review 2007:2 issueEditorial

How do we best promote contemporary Swedish fiction in the UK? This is the question posed in the March edition of the electronic newsletter Swedish Culture in the UK produced by the Swedish Embassy in London (go to www.swedenabroad.com and follow the links). The slightly dispiriting view advanced there is that the written word, especially from the family of smaller languages, may find it harder to break through in a foreign culture than other - non text-based - art forms such as dance and design.

While it is undeniable that the process of publishing fiction in translation is costlier and more time-consuming than publishing that written in English, a swelling number of UK publishers are seeing this as a worthwhile investment, as they seek out distinctive, high-quality books from around the world that will stand out from the often mediocre Anglophone mainstream. There are many reasons to be cheerful. The number of Swedish titles published annually in Britain – and the USA – is far greater than it used to be. Our regular “Just Out and Coming Up” listings always need a double spread these days, and the pages are not entirely filled with crime fiction titles, either. In any case, as Helen Sigeland points out in her article in this issue, high-profile crime writing successes like Henning Mankell and Stieg Larsson can pave the way for all manner of other Swedish literary exports.

There is also cheering news about the reinstatement of Sweden’s translation subsidy scheme, which after a period of uncertainty has now moved from the Swedish Institute to the Swedish Arts Council, where it will enjoy a vigorous new life. Helen Sigeland, who has accompanied the subsidy scheme from its old to its new home, provides the details in her article. SBR seems very likely to be one of the beneficiaries of what is now a dedicated framework for the international promotion of Swedish literature.

It seems appropriate then, as we move into what might be called a new and brighter funding era, to pay tribute to our reviewers, who since the inception of SBR have provided their services on a voluntary, unpaid basis. We are indebted to them all for their labour of love. This issue, as ever, offers a substantial and varied collection of reviews. We also feature extracts from three contrasting works of fiction for young people. In you’re the cutest ;-), Siv Widerberg and Mats Andersson tackle the thorny issue of internet paedophilia, in the setting of today’s multicultural Sweden. Mikael Engström’s Ice Dragon follows the young protagonist from his comfort zone in the inner city to new challenges in a rural environment. In Secret Face Inger Edelfeldt combines contemporary teenage ennui with subversion of the traditional fairytale genre, and tells us how she went about illustrating her book. And not wishing to ignore the Eurocrime wave, we are also pleased to present a sneak preview of The Reluctant Reporter by Jenny Nordberg and Nuri Kino, highly successful journalists who have collaborated on this eagerly-awaited thriller.


Mikael Engströmfrom The Ice Dragon
Mikael Engström
Translated by Neil Smith
This remarkable page-turner of a novel tells the story of one resourceful and extremely likeable boy's journey through a world shaped by the arbitrary decisions of the authorities and the seemingly random actions of an assortment of adults, and his battle to hold on to his identity and sanity in the face of almost intolerable obstacles. Mikael Engström has once again managed to create an utterly credible world populated by memorable characters, and weaves together Mik's story with a beguiling blend of comedy, tragedy, brutalism and surrealism.
[Isdraken, Rabén & Sjögren, 2007. 272pp. ISBN 9789129662511]

From the cover of Hemligt ansiktefrom Secret Face
written and illustrated by Inger Edelfeldt
Translated by Sarah Death, with an introductory comment on the illustrations by the author
Teenage Astrid is forced to stay with her bohemian, book-writing Aunt Malin while recovering from chicken pox. Our extracts are from the unorthodox fairytale Malin makes up to distract her recuperating niece. Inger Edelfeldt writes: "A story that is both fantasy and reality - how does one set about illustrating that? WEll, with realistic vignettes for the modern-day episodes, and with classical storybook illustrations for the fairytale characters. [...] Astrid's situation is that mixture of vulnerability and domesticity which I also associate with many of the main characters in English books for older children."
[Hemligt ansikte, Alfabeta Bokförlag, 2007. 288pp. ISBN 9789150108248]

From the cover of ingen är så söt som du ;-)from you're the cutest ;-)
Siv Widerberg and Mats Andersson
Translated and introduced by Margaret Dahlström
Fourteen-year-old Sofie meets sixteen-year-old Per on an internet chat site. They share an interest in poetry, and develop what seems to be a firm friendship, composing and sharing their poems and exchanging thoughts. Eventually they arrange to meet - with disastrous consequences for Sofie: Per is not Per, nor is he 16. He is a man of over 40 who has built up the friendship to gain Sofie's trust, with the intention of sexually abusing her. Siv Widerberg has published more than sixty books, addressing a wide range of issues. Mats Andersson is the director of Netscan, an organisation that works to inform and educate people about the internet.
[ingen är så söt som du ;-). B4 Press, 2006. 202pp. ISBN 9789185189250]

Jenny Nordberg and Nuri Kinofrom The Reluctant Reporter: The Benefactors
Jenny Nordberg and Nuri Kino
Translated and introduced by Neil Smith
The Benefactors is the first volume in a new series of crime thrillers, based on the work of a pair of investigative journalists. Ninos, the reluctant reporter of the title, is persuaded against his will to help look into the affairs of the largest aid organisation in the world, whose Danish founder is now inexplicably wealthy. Karen, the more experienced of the pair, works within public service radio, and tends to stick to the rules, unlike Ninos. The investigative trail leads them from Stockholm to the headquarters of the organisation in Denmark, and involves the FBI, financial fraud, Sweden's largest daily newspaper, and the most corrupt dictator in Africa.
[Jenny Nordberg & Nuri Kino, Den motvillige reportern: Välgörarna. Norstedts Förlag, 2008.]

The new offices of the Swedish Arts CouncilTranslation Support is Back!
Helen Sigeland
To the delight of all the interested parties in Sweden, the Swedish Arts Council (Statens kulturråd) has assumed responsibility for the promotion of Swedish literature at international level. Under this new stewardship Swedish literature should enjoy enhanced opportunities for taking its place on the international stage. Helen Sigeland, Literature Officer with the Swedish Arts Council, outlines plans and initiatives for the international promotion of Swedish literature.


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