Nordic crime in translation

Karen of Euro Crime has written a report of the Nordic crime reading group, the only free event at the Harrogate festival but the one most eagerly attended by Euro Crimers Karen, Laura (Root) and me. Karen’s report provides some current highlights among the Nordic authors, so please see her post (and associated reviews at Euro Crime website, organised by author and by country) for further details.


I would like to highlight here a few of the comments to Karen’s post. Laura adds that one of the book group participants at Harrogate referred to an Italian film version of a Karin Fossum novel. This lady amusingly described how she watched this film and found her sense of deja vu increasing as the film went on, recognizing the plots as coming from two Fossum books. Sure enough, she found she was right when the credits rolled. Laura has managed to track the film down: Ragazza del Lago, based on Don’t Look Back, but set in Italy. Amazon UK is showing one copy available at £20.99 from an independent seller, but also that it is available for rental (shucks, just after I cancelled my rental account with them!) Laura adds that “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.”


Norman Price, who has written his own stimulating post on Nordic crime fiction, notes that “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.” At his blog, Norman notes that “There is a much greater variation in the Nordic novels ranging from Jo Nesbo’s almost  solitary Harry Hole, Karin Fossum’s twosome Sejer and Skarre, K.O.Dahl’s Gunnarstranda and Frolich, Arnaldur Indridason’s threesome Erlendur, Elinborg and Sigurdur Oli, up to the larger teams of Helene Tursten, Sjowall and Wahloo and Henning Mankell.” Norman, of course, is particularly well-disposed to Helene Tursten as she is a retired dentist, just like all the best crime fiction readers and reviewers! 


And here is a fascinating comment to Karen’s post from Simon Clarke (no relation): “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.” I agree with this last point, and would also add Don Bartlett and the late, sadly lamented Bernard Scudder to the pantheon. If one is prepared to journey considerably southwards, Stephen Sartarelli is exquisitely in tune with author Andrea Camilleri. Sartarelli’s translations are one of the many reasons why these books are such a delight.

2 thoughts on “Nordic crime in translation

  1. Thanks for the inspiration to write that “stimulating post’ and your encouragement to read ‘retired dentist’ Helene Tursten.
    I think I need to read more Lackbergs when they are translated. I did not rate The Ice Princess anywhere near as high as Echoes From The Dead. Although I have not finished Detective Inspector Huss I think have enjoyed reading it more than the Ice Princess.
    I hope I haven’t upset Karen [and Val McDermid] because I did not think the Ice Princess was ‘heartwarming’ or a ‘cosy comfortable’ read?

  2. Norm, I am not sure about very much, but I am sure of one thing, which is that you could not upset anybody! [Even Val McD.] You are the pinnacle of all retired dentists, and we value your views on these books, whatever they may be.
    I am very grateful to you for introducing me to Sjowell and Wahloo — and possibly even Camilleri? I can’t remember now how I came across him, but it may well have been via your posts on the topic.
    I’ll let you know which side of the Lackberg fence I fall on when I have read it. Currently, I am reading Bad Traffic by Simon Lewis which on the basis of the first chapter is going to be excellent.

Comments are closed.