That amazing perpetuum mobile of European crime fiction, Karen Meek, has added three titles to her list of forthcoming Scandinavian crime fiction in English translation. What a lot to look forward to – More from Alvtegen, Nesbo, Nesser, and Stieg Larsson, among others.
The greatest surprise for me is the introduction of a work of psychological suspense by Tove Jansson, The True Deceiver, being released for the first time in English by a small UK publisher – Sort of Books. They have published a number of Jansson’s books – short stories, a new translation of a Moomin children’s book, and a novel.
I’m not surprised that Jansson could write psychological suspense. Moomin Valley was a part of my childhood, and the mix of whimsical and psychologically complex characters living there was an early introduction to Scandinavian culture, along with Pippi Longstocking. Though they are mostly lighthearted, there was a definite undercurrent of emotional complexity among those trolls, particularly in the darnkness of winter. Tove Jansson, a Finnish writer and illustrator, began writing her Moomin books during World War II. I think I still have copies of Finn Family Moomintroll and Moominland Midwinter somewhere on my bookshelves.
If you are ever in Tampere, you can visit the Moomin museum in the basement of the public library. Even if you aren’t interested in Moomins, be sure to visit the library – it’s an amazing work of architecture, and (when I visited it many years ago) the only library I’d ever been in that served ice cream.