Reg Keeland on sardines and other deceptions

I'm very grateful to "Reg Keeland" ("Steven T. Murray") for his recent comment on a post I wrote about as-yet untranslated Scandinavian authors. Reg has translated Stieg Larsson's The Girl Who Played with Fire, published tomorrow (6 Jan 2009) in the UK, and which I recommend very highly. He has also translated many other books, of course, including one by Helene Tursten (a favourite author of mine). Here is what Reg wrote as a comment to my post:

"Here's some info on Unni Lindell and Leif G.W. Persson. I think I may have done a sample translation from one of Lindell's Cato Isaksen procedurals several years back for an agent in Sweden, but so far it looks as though she hasn't sold. (Hard to remember, we do a lot of samples.) I thought the series was promising, though.

I was approached about Persson once, but his bestseller in Sweden at the time turned out not to be suitable for the US market, since one of the detectives was an unreconstructed racist. Not amusing — I declined any involvement in that one. Later a colleague of mine translated something by him, but I'm not sure whether publication was canceled or not — I've never seen any mention of the book being in print. If you read German, at least 7 of his books have been translated, and some to Spanish, according to Amazon.

There are many other competent crime fiction writers all over Scandinavia, perhaps not on the A-list like Stieg Larsson and Mankell, but definitely as good as B-list Anglophone mystery writers. I wish more publishers would get interested; there's plenty to choose from.

Since you liked Leif Davidsen's Serbian Dane, I should tell you about his first novel, which we published at our small house Fjord Press in 1986: The Sardine Deception. It was one of PW's best books of the year and even the NY Times liked it, back in the day when a small press could get a review there. I still have a few copies if you're interested. It's a Hitchcockian thriller set in San Sebastian and Madrid, where a young jurist from Copenhagen goes to collect the body of his TV-journalist wife who was killed in a cafe bombing by ETA. And then the Guardia Civil steps in."

Yes I am interested, and thank you, Reg, for taking the time to make such a fascinating comment over here. And – great translations on the first two Stieg Larsson books and on Detective Inspector Huss. I wish you would come over to CrimeFest in May and tell us all about it!

More Scandinavian crime-fiction novels.


9 thoughts on “Reg Keeland on sardines and other deceptions

  1. Hi Maxine, thanks for the invite to CrimeFest — looks like fun. Both my wife Tiina Nunnally (aka Felicity David) would love to come. Who should we contact about a possible panel discussion on translation and/or Nordic crime? And watch for SHADOW by Karin Alvtegen and THE PREACHER by Camilla Läckberg, along with Tiina’s translation of THE INNER CIRCLE (aka UNKNOWN or A LONELY PLACE) by Mari Jungstedt, all from the New Mexico translation factory… [respond to bloozshooz at gmail dot com]

  2. This is terrific “insider” information – and thanks for the reminder about The Sardine Deception. (The NYTimes review can be found online.) I won’t be at CrimeFest, but I know a lot of people would love to see you two there.
    Don’t suppose you’d care to do an interview for a crime fiction publication? If so, let me know – fister @ (You can find my CV at the Gustavus website if you’re wondering who the heck… :o)
    Sorry to use your blog as a letterbox, Maxine!

  3. It would be wonderful if you and Tina would come to Crime Fest, Reg – I think things seem to be in motion already.
    I have already read A Lonely Place and although I did not enjoy it as much as the first two that was no fault of the translation! I very much look forward to The Preacher – I read The Ice Princess last year – and will watch out for the Alvtegen. I have not read any by her yet, though I know she is highly regarded and Karen (Euro Crime) has kindly given me an ex-library copy of one of her books, so it is waiting in line.

  4. PS I think Typepad does do HTML in comments, by the way, Barbara, so do try it out next time to see. (Saves making the tiny.)

  5. I’ve read Persson in German, and didn’t really like the books much – the two I read were very blokey and had dated pretty badly. There’s certainly things I’d like to see in English before them…some more Finnish crime fiction would be welcome for a start.
    Judging by the German translations I’ve read, I can only agree that there’s a lot of perfectly good, if not brilliant, Scandinavian crime fiction out there that I’d really like to see translated as opposed to more Anglophone stuff of a similar standard. For the sake of variety, if nothing else.
    A PS on Tursten: I’ve heard comments about the quality of the translation of the latest book; judging from the version I read plus the opinion of a couple of Swedish-speaking friends, I don’t think the story was as good either, which can’t have helped.

  6. Thanks, Lauren. Would be interesting to know the details of some of those yet-untranslated books which deserve wider dissemination. The most recent Tursten I read is The Glass Devil – the third to be translated. The story was slimmer than the previous two, but I enjoyed it very much even so. I have heard comments about the quality of the translations, too, but I found them OK. (They are US translations.)

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