Sunday Salon: translated fiction to read this Summer

TSSbadge3 With the holiday season well-advanced in some regions of the world, and about to hit this small island mid-next-week with the end of the school term, I present a few holiday reading recommendations from books reviewed in the past few weeks. The two parameters I've chosen are: (1) translated into English; and (2) not on the shortlist for the CWA 2009 International Dagger award.

First, my review of Island of the Naked Women, by Inger Frimansson and translated by Laura A. Wideburg, is up today at Euro Crime. From my review: "I thoroughly enjoyed this book, which is a strong candidate for my "best of" list for this year. As well as the satisfying "on the surface" mystery, there is an allegorical aspect to the story, which gives it a haunting quality. The island of the naked women (Shame Island) is where legend has it that, in the olden days, wives from the village who had been unfaithful to their husbands were sent, naked, to fend for themselves. It is presumed they starved. The wives in the story told in the book live in more enlightened times, but is their fate any better than that of their historical counterparts?" Read my full review at Euro Crime.

Second, up last week at Euro Crime, is my review of The Water's Edge by Karin Fossum, translated by Charlotte Barsund. "As usual, I am very impressed by Karin Fossum's talent and originality. In THE WATER'S EDGE she has taken an upsetting and controversial topic– the painful death of a child or children – and has made it palatable and interesting even to a sensitive reader who, frankly, cannot usually bear to think about the subject. The author uses the events in the book to look at people, their attitudes and relationships, in both small and large ways." Read the whole review here.

Over at Reactions to Reading, Bernadette reviews Karin Alvtegen's Missing, translated by Anna Paterson (I presume, if it is the same edition as the one I read). Bernadette writes: "I  intended to read a few pages of this before going to sleep last night. I quite literally could not put it down and finished the whole thing in one sitting ….Here is story telling at its absolute finest: I was hooked from page one of this simple and moving tale." The rest of Bernadette's 5/5 review is here.

For those, like me, who enjoyed Johan Theorin's debut Echoes from the Dead, Peter of Nordic Bookblog writes an early review of the second in the series, The Darkest Room Peter says that like Theorin's "first novel, this too is an intelligent book somewhere in between a crime fiction book and a ghost story." I am shocked to note that there is no mention of the translator of this novel either in this review, or at the publishers' website, or Amazon, or on the Guardian review. I guess that it is translated by Marlaine Delargy, who translated the author's first novel, but I hope the name of the translator is provided in at least some of these places by the time the book is on sale.

Finally for this post, a new (to me, and in fact quite new) blog called The View from the Blue House posts a review of The Devil's Star by Jo Nesbo, translated by Don Bartlett (a.k.a. Harry Hole). Rob Kitchin, the reviewer, calls the book "a highly enjoyable read and I zipped through it, picking it up at every opportunity so I could find out what happened next. Nesbø is particularly good at keeping the pace and tension high, running several sub-plots simultaneously and linking them in and out of each other." Read on here. [If you are tempted to read this book, my strong advice is don't do so until you've read first The Redbreast and then Nemesis – the correct reading order is here.]

10 thoughts on “Sunday Salon: translated fiction to read this Summer

  1. Hi Maxine. I’ve heard similar advice about reading the Nesbo books in sequence. Translating them in an almost random sequence seemed a bizarre strategy by the publisher. From what I can work out, the first two books in the series still await translation – The Bat Man and The Cockroaches. I assume at some point these will be translated as personally I’d like to start reading the series right at the beginning. Otherwise I’ll content myself by going back to The Redbreast and backfilling in behind The Devil’s Star.

  2. Maxine–Thanks for the review of Frimansson–but
    your copy must have been a gift–as it seems impossible
    to obtain a copy at present in UK.
    -I agree with Frances—although not crime fiction-
    The Unit -by Ninni Holmqvist-is an extraordinary-and
    powerful book.This can be obtained via USA–but I
    hope it will be published in UK.
    I have just returned from Sweden .The most popular
    crime writer at present there-is Camilla Lackberg-
    Swedes in general prefer crime writing to feature
    ordinary people and their concerns–The top 5 current
    best sellers feature untranslated (so far)work by.
    1. John Ajvide Lindquist 2. Camilla Lackberg.
    3.Johan Theorin 4. Mari Jungstedt 5.Liza Marklund.
    So–much to look forward to –in due course.

  3. Thanks for all these great links. Frimansson is new to me so I’m adding Island of the Naked Women to my TBR list. Now I have to find a copy!

  4. Hi Maxine, I would assume that Marlaine Delargy is translating all of Theorin, as she seems to be the house translator for most Bonniers titles.
    Simon — work is proceeding apace at our New Mexico translation factory on Camilla Läckberg and Mari Jungstedt. I just finished Camilla’s 3rd earlier this year and will be starting #4 soon, and Tiina is working on Jungstedt #4. Be sure to catch up on the ones that are out by both authors, thankfully being published IN ORDER. –Steve

  5. Maxine, I forgot to thank you for the nice review of The Preacher. You understood the plot better than I did while working on it. Too close, too slow when translating, can’t see the forest for the trees.
    And Rob, I’ve read part of The Bat Man in Norwegian and should warn you that it takes place in Australia! He’s there to investigate the murder or disappearance, I forget which, of a Norwegian woman. It also explains early on that Harry’s last name is pronounced closer to “Holy”, which is what the Aussies call him. I keep waiting for some Norwegian local color, but so far not much except for Holy’s interaction with a Swedish girlfriend he meets there. The Aborigine detective who takes him around is a great character, though. Still no clue as to what led to his disgrace with the Oslo PD. (I haven’t read the others yet, attempting to read them in order.)

  6. Hi Rob, Don Bartlett, the translator, cast a bit of light on the translation order at CrimeFest last May. The Devil’s Star had done v well in Norway and the publishers thought this would sell best in English-language market. The first two haven’t been translated as you say – EuroCrime website is very good for the correct listings of authors’ biblios – but Redbreast, Nemesis and Devil’s Star form a kind of trilogy within the series and, as Don said, really lose impact if read out of order. I rarely read a book twice, but I did read The Devil’s Star again after reading the previous two books, and it made a lot more sense.

  7. Thanks, Reg/Steve, you are too kind. Translating must be like editing, you are in a different mode when editing than you are when you are a reader, I find. I do really like your translations of Camilla Lackberg, though, I think you do “get” the author’s intentions and reading is a pleasure – no jarring moments.

  8. Thanks, Simon. My copy was a publisher proof which was sent to the Euro Crime website. Maybe try the publisher website and see if they have any copies available direct? I haven’t tried The Unit but perhaps I should. Not so keen on Lindqvist because of the vampire theme but am fairly tempted by the low price paperbacks on offer in a shop in the town where I live just now. I very much like the other authors on your list – thank you for sharing that.

  9. Thanks for the links. I’ve been looking out for a review of The Darkest Room – I’ve already ordered my copy on the strength of the last book.

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