Having focused on the literature of individual countries in previous editions, in this, our third outing for The Riveter magazine from the European Literature Network, we have broadened our reach to take in a whole region. Five countries are represented in this edition: five different languages and five different cultures; but all are labelled loosely “Nordic”.
So how do we address the ways the writing from these countries differ and the ways they are the same? Our Guest Editor, Gunnar Staalesen, does a fine job of teasing apart this conundrum in his editorial. And then goes on to treat us with a short story – an example of why Nordic Noir currently wears the “crime” or “mystery” blue riband. Gunnar’s English-language publisher (and my colleague), Orenda Books’ Karen Sullivan, gives her views on the Nordic Noir phenomenon, and his translator, Don Bartlett, submits to my questions about how Gunnar compares to another great writer he translates, Karl Ove Knausgaard (also one of Rosie’s favourites). Karl Ove, and his meisterwerk, My Struggle, are the subject of an article by US author Jonathan Levi, and Knausgaard’s latest book, Autumn is reviewed by Roland Gulliver, Programme Director at the Edinburgh International Book Festival.
Travelling across the northern Atlantic, we find ourselves in the company of some of Iceland’s most important contemporary writers. It is our great honour to present to the English-speaking world the first, exclusive glimpse of CoDex 1962, a major novel from the formidable pen of Iceland’s Sjón. But the honours don’t end there: we have another exclusive English-language extract, this time from The Story of Ásta by Jón Kalman Stefánsson. Sjón and Stefánsson are accompanied by poetry from fellow Icelander Sigurdur Pálsson, who, sadly, recently passed away. A fitting tribute, we think, to a great poet. Our feast of Nordic literature and translation continues with extracts of the work of Danish writer Eva Tind, Finn Asko Sahlberg, Swede Ebba Witt-Brattström, and more.
Of course, The Riveter wouldn’t be riveting without our Riveting Reviews, and we have a wealth of them. We cover Pushkin Press’s latest Nordic anthology; Gunnar Staalesen reviews his Norwegian peer, Jon Michelet; Rosie, our Riveter-in-Chief, writes about Dorthe Nors, and we get views on Pajtim Statovci’s My Cat Yugoslavia and on the latest titles from Vigdis Hjorth, Hakan Nesser and many, many more.
To guide you through this bounty, we have enlisted five specialists to discuss the literature of each of the five Nordic countries we cover in the magazine. And to leave you with a smile on your face, we conclude with an exclusive, as yet-unpublished, and absolutely hilarious, Digested Read from the inimitable John Crace of the Guardian.
Our thanks go out to all you who have contributed your time, words, and efforts to making this magazine the biggest, and we think, our most riveting yet. We hope you have a Riveting Read!
By West Camel