Monday, June 20, 2011

A few notes from the Crime Scars Event

Yesterday, Petrona and I went to the World Literature Weekend session, Crime Scars featuring Karin Alvtegen and Håkan Nesser with Jakob Stougaard-Nielsen:

I made a few notes:

Karin Alvtegen's first novel Guilt is her only crime novel not yet translated. Her most recent book is not crime at all. She's not writing at all at the moment as she has no ideas. She worked very closely with translator Steven Murray on Shadow and Shame. It's up to the translator to find the rhythm in their own language.

Three years after the death of her brother, which occurred when she was 9 months pregnant, she had a breakdown and whilst on sick-leave sat and wrote Guilt. She says she has to know the whole story in her head before writing it down.

Håkan Nesser fifth and last Barbarotti is in the computer at the moment. He doesn't understand Van Veeteren at all but Barbarotti is like a little brother so he is more in control. In response to a question from the audience, he said Van Veeteren's fascination with tooth-picks is because he's an ex-smoker.

High density of crime writers in the 25 million population of Scandinavia. Jakob's succinct answer to why are Scandinavian authors so popular at the moment is that "they are damn fine writers".

Authors who write in English such as Elizabeth George, P D James, Ruth Rendell and Minette Walters are very popular in Sweden. It's ironic that 80% of books translated are from English as many Swedes can read English.

Someone was live tweeting in front of us so you can read more snippets from this talk and other WLW events on twitter at #wlw11 and especially at @lrbshop.


Maxine Clarke said...

Great notes, Karen. The only one I wrote down was how to pronounce her name (Altegen) as I never can.

They went on a lot at the start about the popularity of Swedish/Scandinavian crime fiction and talked particularly about Stieg Larsson and the influence of Henning Mankell. However, I wish they had referred to Sjowall and Wahloo, who were surely most influential (certainly on Mankell!) and I now wish I hadn't been too shy to ask them why they had not mentioned those books.

David B. said...

Interesting article. Thanks for the post.

kathy d. said...

Yes, would like to know what the panel thinks of the greats -- Sjowall and Wahloo.

I have another question when hearing that many Scandinavians read books written in or translated from English.

And this is one for Eurocrime: Do Scandinavians read Fred Vargas? Andrea Camilleri and other Italian writers? (These are translated into English, but I'm wondering about their reading habits and preferances.

Tim said...

Actually "Guilt" was translated, by Anna Paterson, and published in 2007 by Cannongate, although it appears not to have been reprinted since.

Karen (Euro Crime) said...

I'm not convinced that Guilt was ever translated/published. It was on amazon and I had it on my database for ages but there are no second-hand copies listed. I'll try and check with canongate.

Anonymous said...

It would have been fun to join you and Maxine :)

I am not surprised that 80 % of the Swedes prefer to read crime fiction in their own language. I was more surprised recently when I learned that 1/3 of the Danes read novels in English occasionally. It takes quite a high level of proficiency to read and enjoy novels in a foreign language. And when you think about how chunky many modern crime stories are ....

Maxine Clarke said...

I expect the Swedes do read novels that are published in French, Italian etc, though probably sometimes they have to read them in English (a larger market).

I too have tried and failed to track down Guilt - as Karen says it's been on Amazon and the Canongate website, but never possible to buy it that I could discover.

Karen (Euro Crime) said...

Just had it confirmed by Canongate that Guilt has not been translated (into English).