2012:1 Issue

Editorial2012:1 Issue

A recent New Yorker cartoon reflects on what some Anglophone writers have to contend with while Nordic fiction remains in vogue: a publisher looks disparagingly at a submission and says to its hapless author: ‘Can’t you make it Swedish?’ Meanwhile, Edith Grossman in her Why Translation Matters (Yale University Press, 2010) cites ‘one of my favorite cartoons, in which a bewildered translator asks a disgruntled author, “Do you not be happy with me as the translator of the books of you?”’

The majority of literary translators currently active in our circles do not, thankfully, give their authors such cause for alarm. It is good to see the translator’s importance more widely acknowledged and discussed these days than it has been for quite some time. The award of the 2011 Nobel Prize in Literature to Tomas Tranströmer did much to keep the spotlight trained on the profession: an article in Svenska Dagbladet, ‘Tranströmer now in 54 languages’, incorporated interviews with his translators into Dutch, Japanese, Polish, Romanian, Czech and Slovak.

In this issue of SBR we launch a new, occasional series called Translator’s Choice, in which established literary translators are invited to translate and introduce texts that particularly appeal to them. Our first contributor is Laurie Thompson, who has chosen a selection of Stig Dagerman’s ‘daily verses’ from the 1940s and 1950s. In fact, all the translations in this issue look back to the past. Kristina Sandberg’s Giving Birth is an achingly told tale of a young woman contending with class prejudice and unplanned pregnancy in 1938. Kjell Westö’s Don’t Go Out Alone Into the Night is set in the 1960s, as the generation born in 1939-45 seeks its place in a rapidly modernising Finland. In While Others Were Celebrating Victory Jens Orback gives a moving account of helping his German mother start to come to terms with scarring experiences at the close of the Second World War.

An impressive reviews section offers a great range of books for non-Swedish publishers looking for potential winners to back. Remember that translators are busy these days and need to be booked in good time! 2012 is Strindberg centenary year, and SBR will mark this with a themed autumn issue. Strindberg scholars around the world will be hoping to shed new light on the man and his writing, and there is no better way to do that than by translating or retranslating his work.

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Stig Dagerman's Satirical Poems

Translated and introduced by Laurie Thompson

In the first part of a new occasional series, leading Swedish-English literary translators pick texts they have always had a yearning to translate. Here Laurie Thompson has chosen a selection of Stig Dagerman's 'daily verses', a series of satirical verses he wrote for the newspaper Arbetaren (The Worker) in the 1940s and 1950s. Many of these are too specific to be widely understood nowadays, but a surprising number strike home because of the universal significance of the anger directed at stupidity, cruelty, bureaucracy and hypocrisy.


Lotta Lotass: Experimental Author of Fiction and Drama

Lotta Lotass can perhaps be described as one of the first serious Swedish exponents of experimental literature of the twenty-first century. Eric Dickens offers an introduction to her work, for which she won several Swedish literary prizes, but concludes that she may, wittingly or otherwise, have overstepped the bounds of experimentation for the majority of readers.


from The Third Flight Speed

Translated by Eric Dickens

Eric Dickens presents his translation of three excerpts from Lotta Lotass's 2004 novel Tredje flykthastigheten (The Third Flight Speed), the story of early space flight in Russia, featuring many of Lotass' characteristic narrative patterns, such as concision, short paragraphs and the change from first-person to third-person narration within the same paragraph.


from Don't Go Out Alone Into the Night

Translated and introduced by Paul O'Mahony

Gå inte ensam ut i natten (Don't Go Out Alone Into the Night), published in 2009, is the fourth and final book in Finnish writer Kjell Westö's loosely connected series of Swedish-language novels set against the backdrop of twentieth-century Helsinki. Here the reader is transported back to the 1960s, as the children of the World War II generation seek to forge new identities in a rapidly modernising Finland. Paul O'Mahony introduces the novel and presents his translation of an extract.


from While Others Were Celebrating Victory

Introduced by the author and translated by Sarah Death

In While Others Were Celebrating Victory Jens Orback gives a moving account of helping his German mother start to come to terms with scarring experiences at the close of the Second World War. Sarah Death presents her translation of Orback's introduction to the work and of an extract.


from Giving Birth

Translated and introduced by B J Epstein

Kristina Sandberg's Att föda ett barn (Giving Birth) is an achingly told tale of a young woman contending with class prejudice and unplanned pregnancy in 1938. B. J. Epstein introduces and translates an extract from the novel.

BOOKSHELF: REVIEWS, edited by Anna Paterson

FlodtidKatarina Frostenson, Flodtid (Flood Hour)

Wahlström & Widstrand, 2011. ISBN: 9789146221180

Reviewed by Anna Tebelius ▸Read Review

BelägringHassan Loo Sattarvandi, Belägring (Siege)

Albert Bonniers förlag, 2011. ISBN: 9789100124953

Reviewed by Agnes Broome and Nichola Smalley ▸Read Review

WrestlarnaViktor Johansson, Wrestlarna (The Wrestlers)

Wahlström & Widstrand, 2011. ISBN: 9789146221029

Reviewed by Agnes Broome and Nichola Smalley ▸Read Review

Delhis vackraste händerMikael Bergstrand, Delhis vackraste händer (Delhi's Most Beautiful Hands)

Norstedts, 2011. ISBN: 9789113037288

Reviewed by Anna-Lisa Murrell ▸Read Review

SiriLena Einhorn, Siri

Norstedts, 2011. ISBN: 9789113033969

Reviewed by Eivor Martinus ▸Read Review

Grand final i skojarbranschenKerstin Ekman, Grand final i skojarbranschen (Grand Finale in the Trickster's Trade)

Albert Bonniers förlag, 2011. ISBN: 9789100126858

Reviewed by Carl Otto Werkelid ▸Read Review

OutsiderTorbjörn Flygt, Outsider

Norstedts, 2011. ISBN: 9789113038230

Reviewed by Tuva Tod ▸Read Review

BrobyggarnaJan Guillou, Brobyggarna (The Bridge Builders)

Pirat, 2011. ISBN: 9789164203199

Reviewed by Anna Paterson ▸Read Review

The Agency Semolina Pritchard LtdSisela Lindblom, The Agency Semolina Pritchard Ltd (The Semolina Pritchard Agency)

Norstedts, 2011. ISBN: 9789113033990

Reviewed by Željka Černok ▸Read Review

Minnet av en smutsig ängelHenning Mankell, Minnet av en smutsig ängel (Memoirs of a Dirty Angel)

Leopard förlag, 2011. ISBN: 9789173432429

Reviewed by Laurie Thompson ▸Read Review

Himmel över LondonHåkan Nesser, Himmel över London (Skies over London)

Albert Bonniers förlag, 2011. ISBN: 9789100125868

Reviewed by Sarah Death ▸Read Review

Det goda inom digLinda Olsson, Det goda inom dig (The Kindness of Your Nature)

Albert Bonniers förlag, 2011. ISBN: 9789100125943

Reviewed by Marie Andersson ▸Read Review

SnöängelAnna-Karin Palm, Snöängel (Snow Angel)

Albert Bonniers förlag, 2011. ISBN: 9789100125714

Reviewed by Deborah Bragan-Turner ▸Read Review

Den girigeMattias Ronge, Den girige (The Miser)

Ordfront, 2011. ISBN: 9789170375705

Reviewed by Janny Middelbeek-Oortgiesen ▸Read Review

Välkommen till den här världen:Amanda Svensson, Välkommen till den här världen: (Welcome to This World:)

Norstedts, 2011. ISBN: 9789113034959

Reviewed by Rick McGregor ▸Read Review

Causa MortisElias Palm, Causa Mortis

Ordfront, 2011. ISBN: 9789170375736

Reviewed by Boel Unnerstad ▸Read Review

Röd snöTomas Ringstedt, Röd snö (Red Snow)

Albert Bonniers förlag, 2011. ISBN: 9789100125608

Reviewed by Anna Paterson ▸Read Review

Sankta PsykoJohan Theorin, Sankta Psyko (Saint Psycho's)

Wahlström & Widstrand, 2011. ISBN: 9789146221227

Reviewed by Martin Murrell ▸Read Review

Europas skam. Rasister på frammarschLisa Bjurwald, Europas skam. Rasister på frammarsch (Europe's Shame. Racists on the Move)

Natur och Kultur, 2011. ISBN: 9789127129795

Reviewed by Željka Černok ▸Read Review

Ordens asylAnders Olsson, Ordens asyl (The Asylum of Words)

Albert Bonniers förlag, 2011. ISBN: 9789100125875

Reviewed by Henning Koch ▸Read Review

PojkarnaJessica Schiefauer, Pojkarna (The Boys)

Bonnier Carlsen, 2011. ISBN: 9789163868665

Reviewed by Kristina Sjögren ▸Read Review

Konstiga djurLotta Olsson and Maria Nilsson Thore, Konstiga djur (Strange Animals)

Bonnier Carlsen, 2011. ISBN: 978916368801

Reviewed by Kristina Sjögren ▸Read Review

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