Swedish authors

I know every language has its authors, but for the most part we are limited to English language authors. We might get a translation of an international best seller from French or Spanish or German etc. But what’s with the Swedes lately.

First we had Steig Larsson with his Millennium triology.

And since Christmas, I have read two books translated from Swedish that were big sellers worldwide.

The first I will recommend highly. The 100 Year Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared by Jonas Jonasson is about - well - a 100 year old man who climbs out the window of his nursing home to avoid his birthday party and ends up being chased by not only the police, but an incompetent gang of drug dealers after he takes possession of their suitcase filled with money. That’s one part of the plot. In alternating chapters we learn about the old man’s history which, in Forrest Gump, fashion includes his close involvement in most of the major events of the 20th century and his contact with many of its leaders. Certainly absurd, but kind of believable and very funny and entertaining.

The second is a thriller along the lines of Steig Larsson called The Hypnotist by Lars Kepler who is actually a the pen name for a husband and wife writing team. It isn’t bad if you enjoy thrillers but there are lots of other thrillers out there so if you don’t read it, no great loss.

My only reason for posting is to note that there are three Swedes who have become famous in the English speaking world of literature.

Anybody want to recommend some books that have been translated into English from other languages. Current books, not those considered classics.

Henning Mankell, particularly the Inspector Kurt Wallendar series. Scandinavians are very strong in the crime genre.

Caryl Férey is a police thriller writer. The first two books on this list are translated in English. I read both and liked the fast pace action but I also liked how he describes the setting for the action( South Africa for Zulu and New Zealand for Utu). I would read and then follow the action on Googlemaps! From his bio, he is a world traveler.

I love Scandanavian crime novels, another author I have read recently besides the entire Jo Nesbo series is an author by the name of Jussi Adler Olsen, a couple of his books are The Absent One and another called The Keeper of Lost Causes, they have been translated, they are awesome, highly recommended.

A characteristic of characters like Jo Nesbo’s Inspector Harry Hole of the Oslo police department and Mankell’s Inspector Kurt Wallander is that while they’re very capable and relectless their personal lives are a shambles. Their wives have left them, they drink too much (Jim Beam in Harry’s case), they’ve accidently killed people (Kurt shot a police colleague while Harry took out one of the US president’s security detail). These are not just somewhat brooding characters like PD James’ characters.

Well it only took me a year to follow up on some of these recommendations. Around Christmas I saw the latest Jussi Adler Osen on the new fiction shelf at the library and took it out only because it was a Danish writer. Called the Conspiracy of Faith, it was pretty good as far as thrillers go. Next, while browsing the stacks, I saw The Day is Dark by Yrsa Sigurdardoittir who is an Icelandic writer. I didn’t enjoy it quite as much. I was pulled back to this thread and ended up taking out The Bat by Jo Nesbo which was quite good.

What I liked about these books besides the suspense, the plot, or the characters is the different point of view that is offered. In Conspiracy of Faith, the main character has a Muslim assistant and no matter how hardworking, honest, etc. the assistant is, there is a bit of tension between them. And when they have to travel to Sweden, the author can’t resist having the characters complain about the mosquitoes and cuisine of Denmark’s neighbour. The Icelandic author had her story take in Greenland and we get a different setting as well as some information on the indigenous people there. The Nesbo novel has the Norwegian cop travel to Australia and he ends up partnering with an Aboriginal.

Another book, I read recently was The Dinner by Dutch author Herman Koch. While not a thriller in the traditional mystery sort of way, it is highly suspenseful as two couples try to figure out what to do with their two sons who have committed a horrible crime. The reviews compared it to Gone Girl, but I found it similar to Defending Jacob and We Need to Talk About Kevin.

There is definitely an invasion of Northern European suspense writers.