I’ve been enthralled with Scandinavian literature since long before most Americans even knew where Sweden was. Well, at least since my first of many visits to my second adopted country, Sweden. I’ve read just about everything I’ve been able to find written by any Scandinavian author that has been translated to English as my Swedish is not good enough to read more than a preschool book.
I’ve noticed that it can be difficult to find new authors to read once you’re hooked. Partly because of the unfamiliar spellings and characters of ö Ö, ä Ä and å Å that are found in some Swedish names, not to mention the Danish and Norwegian letters of Æ æ and Ø ø. I’ll spare you trying to pronounce them, other than to say if you get hooked on the amazing Norwegian author, Jo Nesbø‘s books and his main character, Harry Hole, know that Harry’s name is not pronounced like we would say it in English. His name pronounce phonetically is: Hahree Whoule or Who-leh as my Norwegian friend explained to me.
So, now that you’ve had a bit of a spelling & grammar lesson, I’ll get to the list of the Scandinavian (which includes Sweden, Denmark, Norway and Iceland) authors that I have really enjoyed over the past several years. Some you may have heard of already, like Stieg Larsson, but others may be new to you. In no particular order:
- Karin Alvtegan – Swedish
- Åke Edwardson – Swedish
- Kerstin Ekman – Swedish
- Karin Fossum – Norwegian
- Arnaldur Indridason – Icelandic
- Lars Kepler – Swedish (and is actually a husband and wife team Alexander and Alexandra Ahndoril)
- Åsa Larsson – Swedish
- Camilla Lackberg – Swedish
- Henning Mankell – Swedish
- Håkan Nesser – Swedish
- Sjöwall-Wahlöö (another husband-wife team who are probably the founders of Scandinavian crime fiction – their books should be on your “must read” list if you enjoy this genre).
- Johan Theorin – Swedish
- Helene Tursten – Swedish
- Peter Høeg – Danish
- Liza Marklund – Swedish
- Yrsa Sigurðardó… – Icelandic
- Kjell Eriksson – Swedish
- Mari Jungstedt – Swedish
- Viktor Arnar Ingólfsson – Icelandic
- Ævar Örn Josepsson – Icelandic
- Ólafur Haukur Símonarson – Icelandic
- Jorn Lier Horst – Norwegian
- Karin Wahlberg– Swedish
- Jussi Adler-Olsen – Danish
- Mons Kallentoft – Swedish
This is just a small list of some of the outstanding Scandinavian authors (and I’ve not even started on Finland yet!) that you might like to check out. The Icelandic books by Arnaldur Indridason have led me to put the unlikely spot of Iceland at the top of my “Places to Go” list and I can’t wait to visit beautiful Iceland. But all of these authors have their own unique talents, some of a series working around a single character (which are my favorite types) while others keep the landscape the same throughout the books.
Regardless of how you decide to approach it, remember most of these books were written in their native language and translated into English. This just means that sometimes, the sentences might be a little awkward or the dialogue might sound odd. But that doesn’t take anything away from the brutal crimes in what the rest of the world thinks is the socialist paradise where everything is clean and the people are blonde and tall 🙂
Enjoy! And please let me know if you have any suggestions to add to this list, I’d be happy to add on because I’m always looking for the newest books that have been translated so I can get my Scandinavian fix.