Sunday, July 20, 2008

Harrogate - Nordic Crime Readers Group Session

I've had a couple of requests as to which titles/authors were mentioned in this session so here they are to the best of my memory...

Ann (Cleeves) started off by asking people how they'd found the Mari Jungstedt books Unseen and Unspoken. The poor quality of the translation was commented on which lead to Ron Beard from Quercus commenting on a similar problem with Helene Tursten's The Torso which also has an American translation. Ann then moved on to The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson which Maxine Clarke and I enthused about.

Also sitting in with the session was Johan Theorin who explained about some of the Swedish crime fiction prizes including The Sherlock which was cancelled in 1987 due to lack of suitable entries. The genre was kick-started by Henning Mankell in the 1990s.

Ann mentioned that Mankell's books always start with a vivid scene eg a chair in the middle of an empty road - a technique she has nicked - and hopes that the Kenneth Branagh tv series will brings his books back to prominence.

Maxine spoke more about Helene Tursten and the debt owed to the masters, Sjowall and Wahloo the husband and wife team who wrote ten books starring Martin Beck, after whom a prize has been named.

Ann then went round the other Nordic countries beginning with Norway; Karin Fossum's work was touched on, in particular Black Seconds and Don't Look Back and then (my personal favourite) Jo Nesbo including my plea for people to read The Redbreast first.

Then representing Denmark - Leif Davidsen. Lime's Photograph was praised and I mentioned the excellent The Serbian Dane.

For Iceland, of course Arnaldur Indridason and there was some discussion of the Dagger winning Silence of the Grave.

And for Finland, Maxine spoke up for Ice Moon by Jan Costin Wagner a haunting book written by a German author who spends half the year in Finland.

A general discussion of recommendations brought up the Eric Winter series by Ake Edwardson and The Beast by Roslund-Hellstrom.

Many more authors can be found on the Euro Crime website, by country: Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden.


Anonymous said...

Great round-up, Karen. I finished The Glass Devil (Tursten) on the train on the way back and it is well up to the standard of the first two, though bleaker I believe. Thankfully she does not go into graphic descriptions or "mind of the criminal" approaches but sticks to the police view, or I think I could not have stood this one!

I think Norman would have enjoyed this session, let us hope that he can be there the next time such an event occurs.

It was lovely to see you in Harrogate and I assume from this blog post you are now back OK. I hope there will be some more Harrogate posts!

Uriah Robinson said...

Maxine and Karen from your reports I would certainly have enjoyed this session.
I think the high standard of Swedish crime fiction can be judged by the fact that Helene Tursten has never been nominated for the Basta Svenska Kriminalroman.

Simon Clarke said...

Thank you for the article Karen,
I have today returned from Sweden,
where Camilla Lackberg is top
of the best sellers list with
Mari Jungstedt no 2. My half-
brother who is Swedish has read
5 of Lackberg-and says she gets
better with each novel --and is
almost a super-star in Sweden.
He also tells me having read
all three Stieg Larsson novels
that the second 2 are better than
The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo!!!
As regards translation from
the Swedish .Mari Jungstedt
and Helene Tursten are both
American translations ,the former
by Tiina Nunnally,who is one of the best translators from Swedish,
she has also translated 3 Karin
Fossum novels from Norwegian
under the name of Felicity David.
Her husband is Steven T.Murray
who translated Tursten's Detective
Inspector Huss--not very well--and
it is he who translated the Stieg
Larsson --under the name of Reg
Keeland. The translations by the
British translators Laurie Thompson and Marlaine Delargy
are generally good.

Anonymous said...

Just to add - one of the book group participants at harrogate referred to an Italian film version of a Karin Fossum novel. I've tracked this down - it's "Ragazza del Lago" based on Don't look back but set in Italy (

Anonymous said...

just to add - there was also some discussion of the Swedish Wallender TV series - and a warning that not all the episodes are based on Mankell's books. The Draining Lake by Indridason was also briefly discussed in the context of vivid opening scenes.

Anonymous said...

And there is a film of one of the Indridason books (not discussed at the reading group, but I remembered it from an Icelandic blog I follow). The film is inevitably in Icelandic but one can hope. I think it is Jar City.

Simon, thanks for that fascinating information about the translations. I thought that the first Tursten (Det Insp Huss) was a better translation than the second two (Katarina E Tucker) but I thought they were both OK. What mainly annoyed me was the footnotes to convert metric to imperial units.

Ann Cleeves was not impressed by the Mari Jungstedt translations but again I thought they were OK - certainly the books themselves are very good I think, which helps.

Two translators who always impress me are Don Bartlett and Camilleri's translator whose name I have temporarily forgotten but you will know who I mean, Simon S......

Laura, it was great to meet you at last and I was sorry you had to leave before we got the chance to talk properly --- I hope we'll meet again one day in the not too distant future.

Anonymous said...

steven sartorelli isn't it for the camilleri translator.

if our paths don't cross beforehand, then there's always Harrogate 2009 :)