not yet translated

At the Fans of Scandinavian Crime Novels Facebook group, some “missing Perssons” were identified – writers who haven’t yet been translated, but would be of interest to an English language audience. Then two more names popped up when I blogged about it. So I thought we should start a list. Know of a crime writer from Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, or Sweden whose work should be translated? Leave a comment here.

Dan Turell – Denmark – “A larger than life Danish writer who died in 1993 at the age of 47. He wrote ten crime stories with great style, wit and warmth.” Don Bartlett, translator of Jo Nesbo and others, thinks he should be available in English. If Don says so, I agree wholeheartedly. (See the comments for some more information about this writer from Stieg Larsson’s translator – who is also translator of many other Scandinavian works.)

Leif G. W. Persson – Sweden – Wikipedia says Doubleday (UK and Commonwealth) and Knopf (US) hold rights, but I can’t find any published translations. (See the interesting background information at Petrona from a well-known translator.) Update: a first of his novels, translated by Paul Norlen, has been published. Thank you, Stieg Larsson (though these two writers are probably polar opposites – but suddenly publishing 500-page translations from Swedish seems like a good idea.)

Unni Lindell – Norway

Arne Dahl – Sweden – Pen name of Jan Arnald; US rights are held by Pantheon and publication may be forthcoming – ? He won the Deutsche Krimi Pries in 2005. (Updated in the comments – Tiina Nunnally’s translation of Misterioso is finished; we just aren’t sure when we will get to see it. Another update – February 2011! Thanks, Reg. And yet another update – finally published in July 2011. And very good it is, too.)

Matti Rönkä – Finland – won the 2007 Glass Key award (the highest honor for crime fiction in Scandinavia) and the Deutsche Krimi Preis in 2008. Come on publishers, we need more Finnish translations!

Victor Arnar Ingolfsson – Iceland – has twice been the Icelandic nominee for the Glass Key award. Update: One of his books, The Flatey Enigma, has been released in 2012 by Amazon Crossing.

Liza Marklund – four of her books have been translated, but more recent ones have not had English rights sold, so far as I can tell from the Salomonsson Agency’s site. (Update: thanks to being included in the James Patterson Inc. franchise, a UK publisher has brought out Red Wolf, the fifth in the Annika Bengtzon series in October 2010. It and further Bengtzon adventures have now been released in the US, too).

Árni Thórarinsson – an Icelandic author of urban noir crime fiction who has become popular in France; according to an interview there, he does not exaggerate his portrait of Iceland and he does not own a cell phone. Chouette. Update: A first translation, though not the first in the series, has been published by Amazon’s Crossing series. Season of the Witch was released in 2012.

Emma Vall – the pseudonym of three women who write both an adult series about a reporter, Amanda Rönn, in northern Sweden; they also write a series for young readers.

Thomas Kanger – a reporter who writes a series about a young female cop, Elina Wiik.

Åsa Nilsonne -a psychiatrist who writes a series set in Stockholm featuring police officer Monika Pedersen.

Leena Lehtolainen – a Finnish author first published at age 12 (!) who writes a series about a policewoman, Maria Kallio. Update: Amazon will be publishing her works in English – though at this point I don’t know when. Update: it was supposed to be September, but now appears to be December 2012. Hurry up, Amazon!

Gretelise Holm – Danish author whose debut novel apparently won a Danish crime writers’ prize and has written a series featuring journalist Karin Sommer.

And check out Peter’s list of “emerging stars”: Danish writer Jussi Adler-Olsen,  the writing duo Kaaberbøl & Friis, also from Denmark, Swedish writers Kristina Ohlsson and Camilla Ceder, and Øystein Wiig and Thomas Enger from Norway. Update: Ceder and Kaaberbøl & Friis have translations in the works. And Thomas Enger will be published by FaberUpdate: Kristina Ohlsson’s first book, Unwanted, has been published in both the UK and US, with presumably more to follow. And Jussi Adler-Olsen has made it into English as well. So we’re really only awaiting Øystein Wiig.

Be sure to read the comments to learn about the Finnish writers Pentti Kirstilä, Sirpa Tabet, Harri Nykänen,  Tapani Bagge, and Seppo Jokinen. And any other “wanted” writers who might turn up in the comments. Update: Harri Nykanen will soon have three books in translation; Seppo Jokinen will also have a book available for English readers in May, 2012. (Thank you, Ice Cold Crime.)

Other Finnish authors pointed out by Pekka Makkonen: Marko Kilpi, Tapani Bagge, Eppu Nuotio, Marko Hautala, and Mika Waltari.

Thanks to all who make suggestions. Keep ’em coming!

28 thoughts on “not yet translated

  1. here are a few good Finns – besides Mr. Rönkä, and Matti Joensuu (published by Arcadia in UK)- worth anybody’s while (most of the names & titles below are available in German already) …US/UK publishers & agents, please take note!
    – Pentti Kirstilä; two-time recipient of the Clew of the Year award for the best in Finnish crime, esp. “Imelda” (1992, publisher/foreign rights WSOY, Helsinki), a real Chinese-box of a noir thriller.
    – Sirpa Tabet; chilling psychological mysteries in Highsmith vein, “Yöleikki” (‘The Night Game’) from 1999 is among her very best. (Published by Otava, Helsinki)
    – Harri Nykänen; former crime reporter, and also two-time winner of the Clew 0 Glass Key candidate, has several series + standalones going: “Raid”, also a popular Finnish TV series from 2000, an underworld enforcer with a code of ethics from the Old West, and DI Ariel Kafka, a Jewish homicide investigator with Helsinki CID (Publisher/foreign rights WSOY)
    – Tapani Bagge; our version of a young Westlake, or Larry Block, churns out all forms of fiction at breakneck rate, won the Clew in 2007 for “Musta taivas” (‘The Black Sky’, also nominated for the Glass Key but lost to Larsson, the dead guy), part of a series about small-time crooks and low-lifes creating carnage and mayhem in his provincial hometown, the medieval Hämeenlinna. (Publisher Tammi/Bonniers, Helsinki)
    – Seppo Jokinen; a series of humane police procedurals with a social conscience about DI Koskinen and his CID team in the industrial city of Tampere; won the Clew in 2002 with “Hukan enkelit” (‘Hells-on-Wheels’), another top title is “Sana sanaa vastaan” (‘Word Against Word’) from 2005 dealing with corrupt city developers and the heavy toll of industrial action in 1970s. (Publisher Karisto, Hämeenlinna)

    • This is a treasure trove! Kiitos!!! I think there has been one of Tapani Bagge’s short stories translated into English, but the other names are not familiar. I will post these to my “you should publish translations of these” list.

  2. Arne Dahl and Leif Persson have both been published in Canada in the past few years, but only in French translation so far.

    Books in Print lists the following titles for Leif Persson in English:
    * Between the Promise of Summer and the Cold of Winter
    * Between Summer’s Longing and Winter’s Cold (probably an alternate title for the former)
    * Falling Freely, As If in a Dream
    * Another Time, Another Life

    There are, of course, no publication dates listed at this time. Also according to Books in Print, the rights seem to be Random House for the UK and HarperCollins for the US, which doesn’t exactly jive with the Wikipedia article that says that Random House hold the rights for the entire English-speaking world (Doubleday = Knopf = Random House).

    Whatever the case, I’m sure they’ll come out in English at some point, as he’s apparently quite a big deal in Sweden. As an example, one of his French publishers says that Mellan sommarens längtan och vinterns köld (Between Summer’s Longing And Winter’s Cold) sold 500,000 copies in Sweden (a country of only 9 million people!).

    I really enjoy your website. Keep up the good work!



    • Great information – thanks, Thomas. I knew about the French translation of Mysterioso from a Quebecoise friend. I’m jealous! I suppose I could dust off my French….
      Thanks also for the link to the terrific Skandlit site for Scandinavian literature in translation. Canada is a great crossroads of the publishing world for both French and English books. There are some terrific specialty bookstores in Canada for crime fiction – Whodunit in Winnepeg and Sleuth of Baker Street in Toronto come to mind – where you can pick up those books that haven’t quite made it across the pond (in either direction) yet.

  3. Barbara,

    Thank you for the kind words regarding my website.

    I’ve been in Montreal for two years now, but Winnipeg (2,000 km / 1,250 miles to the west) is my hometown, and I have fond memories of the quaint little shop on Lilac Street that is Whodunit.

    Another point worth mentioning is that Winnipeg (and the province of Manitoba in general) is, like Minnesota, a centre of Scandinavian culture in North America. Indeed, Winnipeg was the ‘Swedish Capital’ of Canada up until World War II (my great-grandparents were Swedish immigrants), and Manitoba is to this day home to the world’s largest Icelandic community outside of Iceland (and soon to be home to Canada’s newest IKEA store!)

    If you add to the mix that Winnipeg also has the largest concentration of French-Canadians in Western Canada (which is why I was taught French at school), and that French publishers translate much more fiction (including Scandinavian fiction) than their English-language counterparts, then you can see that I was practically born to produce a website on Scandinavian Literature in Translation.

  4. Often when I describe where I live, I say “eight hours due south of Winnipeg.” It’s a nice weekend trip for us. I was aware of the Icelandic population from staying at a provincial park on Lake Winnipeg – where there once was a major fishing industry that provided lots of Icelanders with jobs. But mostly in Winnipeg I noticed the concentration of Russian and Ukrainian churches and shops, which (as a former Russian lit major) I enjoyed tremendously.

    I told Arnaldur Indridason when he visited our campus a couple of years ago that he should make a stop in Winnipeg next time he’s on tour. I also mentioned that to his US publisher but they seemed to think Minnesota was at the farthest outskirts of the known world.

    My daughter is just working on an application for grad school at McGill. I’m crossing my fingers that I’ll have her as an excuse to visit (not to mention that their global nursing program is a perfect fit for her).

  5. As it seems that many English readers enjoy Anne Holt´s books about Adam Stubo & Johanne Vik, I think they would also like her earlier series about “Hanne Wilhelmsen”, strong, stubborn & independent police something (don´t recall her title).

  6. This is a great idea to help get some stuff published, but I can’t comment on some of these books that are already in the works until the publisher approves it.

    I was approached to do a sample of Mellan sommarens längtan och vinterns köld several years ago and turned it down. One of the detective’s sidekicks is a crude racist who denigrates black folks. I was neither amused nor convinced that it would sell in the American market, and I didn’t care for Persson’s style. I think another translator was commissioned but I never heard that the book came out. Some of P’s books are available in German and Spanish.

  7. I’m glad to know some of them are in the works! Let’s hope the publishing gods smile upon us.

    Funny about the racist sidekick. There are some memorable ones of that type – John Harvey’s Charlie Resnick series has one, and of course there’s Fat Ollie Weeks of Ed McBain’s 87th Precinct. But they’re not admirable characters, they’re laughable. Well, both in some ways are sympathetic, but totally in spite of themselves. In these cases, I think they’re an honest and necessary depiction of a mix of cops that includes some whose views are pretty crude. Hey, it happens…

    I gather that’s not the way it’s handled in Persson’s ensemble cast, as an object lesson in what’s wrong with law enforcement.

  8. Finnish author Matti Remes has published a free e-book of Murder Dance (Tappotanssi) the first book in his popular Ruben Waara series, and excerpts from two other books in the series (all translated by Lola Rogers – that’s me), in hopes of attracting an English-language publisher. I’d love to hear what your readers think of them.

  9. Update on forthcoming translations of authors mentioned above:

    Tiina Nunnally has translated Arne Dahl’s Misterioso for Pantheon; pub date not known.

    I did a sample of one of Thomas Kanger’s books which he hated. So if he gets published in English it won’t be in my translation.

    Tiina and I considered translating and publishing Dan Turell’s series when we had Fjord Press going back in the early ’90s. There were two major problems: he has a “no-name” detective (which Bill Pronzini already had) and he seemed to think it was a good idea to get prospective publishers drunk at lunch in Copenhagen and then talk contract details. Not! A colorful bohemian character, Dan held office hours and took phone messages in his local pub. He was also the first person I saw to wear black nail polish on a daily basis. RIP, Dan.

    Liza Marklund has teamed up with James Patterson to write The Postcard Killers. Maybe this will make her name in the States. Personally I find Patterson’s stuff about as nourishing as popcorn.

    • Hey, at least popcorn tastes pretty good. I tried to read Patterson just to figure out what people saw in his books. I couldn’t choke down more than one page – the prose was so painfully bad – so I will never find out. He’s probably smart to get other people to write them. A UK publisher is bringing out Red Wolf in October (no idea who translated it), so there will be another Annika Bengtzon story in English. The cover has a really goofy quote by Patterson – buy one, read it quickly, buy another. Pass the popcorn.

      Thanks for update, Reg, and for the information on Dan Turell. What a character! I’m going to bring this page up to date – add some authors Peter has recommended and provide updates on new translations.

      Oh, and I’m glad to see that Misterioso is coming out – eventually.

  10. I am quite fortunate as my native languages are German and French. When something isn’t out in English I switch but it’s sad as I would like to review what I read. I like Scandinavian literature a lot and that’s why I started to learn Swedish. Hopefully by beginning of next year I will be able to read in the original language. I love blogs like yours that are dedicated to something specific. It’s a fantastic resource for interested readers. Thanks a lot for the great work!

  11. I am very interested in translating Scandinavian language novels into English, so if anyone would like to see a particular book in English, please let me know and I’d be happy to do a sample translation or work to complete the entire thing. I have tried to get an English language publishers interested in the Norwegian author Tore Renberg’s novels (he is not a crime writer though) but I haven’t had any luck so far, though I did receive a grant from NORLA.

  12. Hello I am interested in translating French or Spanish novels into English. If anyone knows of any books that need to be translated. I am also interested in Humanities type books that benefit being translated into English. Thank you for your help.

  13. Has there been an English translation of Maj Swôwall/Tomas Ross “Kuinnan som liknade Greta Garbo”? It had been translated into French (La femme qui ressemblait à Greta Garbo”.

  14. I’ll do it! Translate the Swedish novel into English I mean. can someone email me with details on how to purchase the book in the UK? Its not as easy as you may think. ( cheers

  15. This is a great post, and so fascinating that so many have now been translated since it was first written! As well as Jussi Adler-Olsen’s Dept Q series being published in English, I’ve just seen that Alphabet House from 1997 has been translated (published in the UK in Aug 2014) and a film adaptation of the first of the Dept Q series is out next week in the UK.

    One of Dan Turell’s ‘Murder’ series is now available in English! The very first person on your list. ‘Murder in the Dark’, published by Norvik Press, translated by Mark Mussari. Here’s a short blog post with a recording of a chat with the translator:
    and info on Norvik Press’s website is here:

  16. Although I once had a short story published in a British anthology, I have so far not seen my debut novel (Støj, Klim, 1996, considered a crime novel although set in the future) or any of my crime shorties out in English translation. Best, H.H. Løyche

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s