mandag den 29. juni 2009

The Nordic Crime Wave rolls on...

The Nordic Crime Wave has reached the shores of the British Isles, and its impact is felt all across the British criminal world, as the shortlist for this years CWA's International Dagger award bears witness to.
Of course, the Nordic Crime Wave has been relentlessly pounding the British shores for years now; so brutally and mercilessly, in fact, that the Brits decided to construct a special breaker along the coastline after Iceland's Arnaldur Indriðason´s Silence of the Grave wrestled the Golden Dagger out of the bloody grip of british crime-writers back in 2005.
No more Golden Daggers for bloody foreigners, they decided (which, to be fair, I think is perfectly in order) and promptly created a special award for translated crime-literature: The Duncan Lawrie International Dagger, and thereby excluding foreign writers from the top-prize...

And this year - well, on a shortlist of six authors, no less than five of them hail from the Nordic countries.

Arnaldur, again (double Glass-Key winner for Jar City (Mýrin) in 2002 and Silence of the grave (Grafarþögn) in 2003), is shortlisted with his Arctic Chill (Vetrarborgin), as is Jo Nesbö from Norway (Glass-Key winner of 1998 for his novel Flaggermusmannen (e: The Batman), for his novel The Redeemer (Frelseren). And then there are the three Swedes: This year's Glass-Key winner Johan Theorin, for his debut novel Echoes from the dead (Skumtimmen); last year's Glass-Key winner Stieg Larsson for his second crime-novel, The girl who Played with Fire (Flickan som lekte med elden), and last, but not least, the winner of the 2001 Glass-Key, Karen Alvtegen, for her novel Shadow (Skugga).
So, the only shortlisted author from outside the nordic region of crime, french Fred Vargas, faces 5-1 odds against her...

UPDATE: Against all (or 5:1) odds, Fred Vargas was awarded the Dagger - for the third time in four years. Wellwellwell, the Brits do like their Freds...
For more information on the nominated/shortlisted novels - and the International Dagger - click

fredag den 26. juni 2009

Spreading crime around the world – the success of Nordic Crime Stories

Notes from a speech at the crime writers’ conference The Nordic Crime Wave in the Nordic house, Reykjavík, 29/5 09

By Halldór Guðmundsson

There is something beautifully ironic about the fact, that for roughly 10 years now, the most characteristic sales trend in international publishing should be the success of crime novels from the most peaceful region of the world; the Nordic countries. The peacemakers are spreading the word about crime. But considering the features of the genre, this is not so surprising at all: Crime novels are about the disturbance of the social peace, and nowhere is this disturbance more drastic than in a quiet place; nowhere does murder make a deeper impression than in a region where you hardly can imagine one.

And so the Nordic crime novels have made a lasting impression, especially in the German speaking market. Ten Icelandic crime novelists have a German publisher. That is about all there are.
Especially in the German market, the success of the Nordic crime novels is the peak of a tendency that has been growing and growing for about 15 years.

In the spring of 1993 I went to London to visit publishers with the intention of promoting Icelandic literature. The trip was hardly successful. The publishers were polite enough, but obviously not in the least interested in my proposals. They quite simply asked why on earth they should search out the one Icelandic-speaking person in the UK to ask him to translate novels from this admittedly exotic but rather insignificant island, while roughly half a billion people had English as their mother tongue.
By far the best reception I got was at Harvill press, where the gentleman Christopher MacLehose was the publisher.
While he frankly told me that, in his opinion, the time was far from ripe for him to publish an Icelandic novel, he seemed genuinely interested and asked a lot of informed questions.
This attitude was quite askew in relation to that of his colleagues, who did their best to inform me that Christopher was constantly on the look-out for new poets from Schleswig-Holstein.
Christopher, on the other hand, told me that he had just bought the translation rights for a Danish novel - a thriller, featuring a woman from Greenland as the main character. He thought he was giving me a hot tip when he suggested I should publish the book in Iceland.
Of course, I thought that it was a crazy idea...

In retrospect, the timing of my journey was a bit funny, as 1993 turned out to be the year in which the attitude of publishers towards Nordic literature would drastically change, in England and the world over.
In the autumn, Frøken Smillas fornemmelse for sne (Smilla’s sense of snow) was published in English, by Harvill Press. The following year the book was published in America and became a best seller for translated novels. The rest is history, and Peter Høeg’s novel, the first Nordic crime novel to gain the attention of the world since Sjöwall og Wahlöö, has now been published in 34 languages and has sold over 20 million copies worldwide.

1993 was also the year in which Michael Krüger at Hanser publishing house in Munich published a Norwegian book on philosophy for teenagers. This unlikely book, Sophie’s World, by Jostein Gaarder, topped Der Spiegel’s list of best sellers and stayed on top for nearly two years. Since then, the book has been published in over 50 languages and has sold in ca. 40 million copies. Sophie’s world was the world's best selling novel in 1995.
This was the beginning of a tendency. The eventful year of 1993 facilitated the work of publishers and agents trying to sell literature from the Nordic countries. Publishers are governed by a herd instinct, and they will flock to a place, if they get wind of green pastures of good works and sizeable profits. And now, they looked North.

At first, there followed a wave of translations of Nordic fiction in the world; the interest had shifted from South American fiction, which had played a dominating role for 15 years. But in 1998, the tide turned again - but this time not to another part of the real world, but to a specific genre - towards crime fiction.
Again, it was Michael Krüger from Hanser publishers in Germany who set the trend by publishing the Swedish author Henning Mankell. Before that, two of Mankell’s books had been published in German, but both sold less than a thousand copies.
Now, Henning Mankell has sold 30 million copies worldwide. A new television series, made by and starring Kenneth Branagh as Wallander, will most certainly strengthen the interest in the English speaking world.

One should be careful, though, not to emphasize the distinction between crime novels and other fiction too much. In my view, Arnaldur Indriðason for example, is first and foremost a good novelist, who happens to be writing about crime. The sales of the crime novels have also added to the success of other types of literature, and vice versa. If one could name two factors that strengthen the translation and success of crime stories in particular, they are, on the one hand, their entertainment value, of course, but, on the other hand, the fact that they usually envoke a strong sense of place. And if you want to read a book from a foreign country, you are very often exactly looking for this sense of place.

The result is obvious: More books of fiction written in the Nordic countries are now translated to other languages than ever before. This turnaround is clear and significant, even in light of the fact that the number of published titles in the big markets, such as the British or German ones, has also increased: More than a hundred-thousand titles are published annually in each country.
An example from the smallest Nordic country, Iceland, is also a case in point: Forlagid publishers, and their predecessors, have made over one hundred contracts for translation rights per annum for five consecutive years. Icelandic publishing houses are by now quite successful in this area. Going back twenty-five years or so, no more than ten contracts for foreign rights was signed per year. Many of the most significant novels written in the sixties in Iceland were generally not translated; some of them are just now being translated for the first time.
The downside of this, for the publishers and authors alike, was not just a financial one. Small language communities, like the Nordic ones, necessarily need a dialogue with the literature of other, larger language communities and translation is vital in this respect.
Only in this way can a Nordic book become a part of the world literature, fulfilling the vision Goethe introduced two hundred years ago.

The wave of Nordic crime novels in international publishing has now been on the rise for ten years. Henning Mankell was the pioneer, but many more authors from the Nordic countries have been doing very well, and in presenting them, the reward to be handed out today [may 29th, 2009]; the Glass key, has proved very important.

Arnaldur Indriðason is the best known Icelandic crime writer, with over 5 million books sold worldwide, but many follow in his footsteps, as for example Yrsa Sigurðardóttir, who has been doing very well in the English speaking world and was recently the first Icelandic author ever to be published in Arabic. She received great reviews in e.g. The Times, where she was said to be among the best Nordic crime novelists - which also means that it is regarded as a sign of quality to be a Nordic crime writer.

Is the tide turning?

In preparing this little talk I called a few friends in foreign publishing and agents and they said no, at least not yet.
Let me quote what aforementioned Christopher MacLehose said in a letter:
“The tide of Scandinavian crime is not yet exhausted. The fact is that a rich vein of real storytellers has been found and is still filled with the promise of years to come. Whether readers in the rest of the world will find something else to amuse them over the next ten years, that is not sure. But true storytellers of genius – Arnaldur Indriðason, for example -- will always and forever find a huge readership. He could find a readership even if he decided to write mere philosophy.”

What will the future life of the Nordic crime novel depend upon? Probably the same quality as any other kind of fiction: First and foremost, that it is well written.
But, if we look a bit further:
It's ability to adapt to new media and new perceptions of life that come along with this new media. The fascinating Icelandic computer game corporation CCP has one central task: To invent stories, mostly mythological, but also of a criminal nature. And the players of their most well known game, eve online, can play a part in creating and "living" these stories.

But the prospect will also depend on the crime-novelists' ability to adapt, at least here in Iceland, to a new type of crime. The crime novel is often built on a strong sense of place, but also on a strong commitment to it’s time, to being contemporary. And Iceland has just lived through a period where the whole banking system collapsed in two days, partly because of crimes committed by people we least expected to commit them.

Half a century ago, Raymond Chandler, in a famous article, stated that the important task for the crime writer was to give murder back to the people likely to commit one, with the tools that are available, and not with tropical fish.
Maybe now it is the other way round. This most peaceful place of the world has been raided by people we thought were especially unlikely to commit crimes.
By this, I am referring to the huge economic crimes committed behind our backs while we thought that we were living in the most peaceful region of the world. In that sense, Icelandic crime writers, and maybe crime writers all over the world, are facing a very important, new challenge.
Maybe we Icelanders will be able to present the first results of that challenge at the international book fair in Frankfurt in 2011, where Iceland, the first of all the Nordic countries, will be guest of honour. This position opens up immense possibilities for Icelandic writers on the international bookmarket.

The first important agreement has already been reached. A German publisher, Fischer Verlag, will in 2011 publish a new translation of the Icelandic Sagas which one might, without insulting anyone, call the best Nordic crime fiction ever.
The Sagas are, at long last, coming back to Germany, after having been almost taboo there for half a century, because they were abused by other criminals, the Nazis.

So, what started only as a sense of snow, to refer to Smilla, has led to the rehabilitation of the Nordic tradition on one of the world’s most important book-market.

Halldór Guðmundsson

onsdag den 3. juni 2009

What a Crime wave it was...

Dear partners in crime.
I want to thank all of you, who attended and participated in the double AGM's of AIEP and SKS in Reykjavík this last weekend, and the accompanying conference/series of lectures and panels: The Nordic Crime Wave.

The members of the Icelandic GK-jury told me this was an unusually good year in a row of many good years of nordic crime, and this manifested itself in, amongst other things, the fact that an extra-round of voting was needed to get to the final result. I congratulate, once more, Johan Theorin on his Glass-key prize; he is a worthy winner amongst worthy competitors.

Although many of those attending this weekend of crime kept congratulating and profusely thanking me, personally, for a brilliant conference (and it was brilliant, there's no arguing about that) I want to state it for the record that it was by no means all my doing, far from it.

On the contrary, a lot of people put in a lot of effort to make this work as well as it did.

Eiríkur Brynjólfsson, the Don/Gangleader of The Icelandic Crime Syndicate is the first amongst equals in a long line of people you have to thank for this successful meeting of criminal minds from all over the world.

Viktor Arnar Ingólfsson, a long-suffering board-member of the ICS, is another.

We, in the ICS and the SKS/CWS, also owe a huge debt to Max Dager, the manager of the Nordic house, and Ásta G. Rögnvaldsdóttir, the Nordic house's chief librarian, for their hospitality, generosity and all-round helpfulness during these merry days and nights of crime.

Three major, icelandic publishing-houses also deserve a big, fat thank you from us: Forlagið, Uppheimar and Bjartur-Veröld, for their support and for making their respective authors participation in the saturday-panel possible: Diane Wei Liang, Jo Nesbö and Yrsa Sigurðardóttir. And of course, our gratitude extends to these three masters of crime themselves as well.

Special thanks go to the Icelandic Writers Union, its president Pétur Gunnarsson and its manager Ragnheiður Tryggvadóttir for their generous contribution, without which you would have had to pay for your own drinks on thursday and eat outside in the rain on friday...
And to our second host on thursday evening, of course, the GrandRokk-pub.

I also want to thank the Glass-key candidates, all six of them, for showing up and participating in our panel, deciding to come to Iceland and/or participating in the panel without anyone of them knowing beforehand who was going to win.
They all had the option of getting to know who the winner was, some half an hour before it was announced, and all of them graciously decided to wait for the official announcement. Arnaldur, Lene & Agnete, Vidar, Marko and Johan - thank you all.

And, of course, Kristján Jóhann Jónsson, who introduced the candidates and their works, as well as interrogating them afterwards, is yet another person we have to thank for a criminally good weekend, as is our minister of culture, education and science - and long-time member of The Icelandic Crime Syndicate - Katrín Jakobsdóttir, who not only presented the Glass Key, but also made this conference possible in the first place.

You and I also owe a big thank-you to Halldór Guðmundsson, Rannveig Þórisdóttir and Ólafur Ísleifsson for their invaluable input, and, of course, to Bob Cornwell, the only "foot-soldier" amongst the conference-guests burdened with a heavy task outside the business-meetings, a task he executed brilliantly as everyone who was present can vouch for.

Hótel Loftleidir, the Teitur Jónasson bus-service, the Saffran-restaurant (catering on friday), the Dill-restaurant (caterers in the Nordic house) all put in their two-cents worth, and quite a bit more, actually, by giving us great deals and great value.

Last, but by no means least I want to thank all of you who came here, to enjoy this weekend with us - without you lot, there would have been no conference.

So - to you delegates from Japan, the USA, Bulgaria, Switzerland/Germany, Austria, Denmark, Norway, Holland, Belgium/Spain, Sweden, Finland, the UK, Italy and Iceland - many, many thanks for joining us and making The Nordic Crime Wave the success that it truly was, if I say so myself...

ævar örn.

lørdag den 30. maj 2009

Glasnyckeln 2009: Johan Theorin

Glasnyckeln 2009 går til Johan Theorin, Sverige, for hans deckare, Nattfåk.
The Glass key 2009 goes to Johan Theorin, Sweden, for his novel, Night Blizzard.
Theorin is a journalist and writer by profession, living in Gothenburg but situating his novels in Öland, an island off the south-east coast of Sweden. Night blizzard is the "Winter-story" in a planned "Four-seasons" cycle.
A young couple buys the farm Åludden on the north-east corner of Öland, which used to be the residence of the keeper of the lighthouse of the same name. Legend has it that the house was built with the timbers of sunken ships - and therefore haunted by the ghosts of drowned sailors.
When the wife drowns, shortly after the couple move in, her husband grieves her but also senses her presence in the now empty house.
Tilda Davidson, the local police-constable, is not quite convinced that the drowning was accidental, but at the same time she has to deal with a small gang of petty thieves on a break-in spree - and try to end her relationship with her married lover.
Theorin builds the suspense and intrigue slowly but surely all the way to the end - with supernatural elements playing a tentative, but by no means verified - or verifiable - part in the investigation.

mandag den 25. maj 2009

The final programme

Well, all is set for the conference, if not in stone, then at least in writing. This is how it's going to be:

20.00 - ?
A warm welcome to all our guests by The Icelandic Crime Syndicate, The Icelandic Writers Union and the GrandRokk-pub.
Location: GrandRokk-pub, Smiðjustígur 6, Reykjavík
A few of us - or a bus - will be waiting for you outside Hotel Loftleidir at around 19.45, in order to take you there (i.e. those of you who are not in the centre already, having dinner or whatever. The GrandRokk is very close to (or actually right in) the city centre.)

10.00 - 13.00: AIEP business-meeting
Location: The Nordic House.

13.00 - 14.00:Lunch/Lecture: The Nordic Crime Wave part I: Crime in Iceland
Rannveig Þórisdóttir, sociologist/criminologist with the Reykjavík police shares her extensive knowledge of the Icelandic underworld with us during lunch.

16.00 - 17.00: The Glass key-award*: Awarding of SKS's (CWA's) prize for the best, nordic crime-novel of the year, presented by the minister of culture & education, Katrín Jakobsdóttir (one of Icelands leading experts on crime-fiction and a long standing member of the Icelandic Crime Syndicate).

Preceded by two topic-related inputs:
1) Spreading crime around the world - Nordic crime stories are success stories. Speaker: Halldór Guðmundsson, project leader of "Sagenhaftes Island" - Frankfurt, 2011.
2) Presentation of the nominated novels & authors by Kristján Jóhann Jónsson, chairman of the Icelandic GK-jury.
Location: The Nordic House

17.00 - 18.00: The Nordic Crime Wave, part II*: The professionals view, a panel discussion. What are nordic crime-writers trying to convey, and how do they go on about it?
Location: The Nordic House
Participants/Suspects: All Glass-Key nominees:
Arnaldur Indriðason (IS)
Johan Theorin (SE)
Lene Kaaberbøl & Agnete Friis (DK)
Marko Kilpi (FI)
Vidar Sundstøl (NO).

ca. 19.00 - late: Suburban BBQ: Dinner for all conference guests and a welcome opportunity to mingle with each other, the lecturers and other "informants" and contributors to the conference.
Location: Out in the sticks - i.e. the suburbs - if the weather allows, otherwise - well, we'll keep you informed...

10.00 - 13.00: AIEP business-meeting
Location: The Nordic House

13.00 - 14.00: Lunch/Lecture. The Nordic Crime Wave, part III: How to rob a nation and steal a country - or vice versa. The collapse of the Icelandic economy and how it was brought about by a few criminally greedy investors (and a (criminally?) inefficient regulatory system). Ólafur Ísleifsson, economist and assistant professor at Reykjavík University.
Location: The Nordic House

14.30 - 15.00: The Nordic Crime Wave, part IV*: What's so special about Nordic/scandinavian crime novels? Are they a (sub)genre within the genre? What defines the Nordic crime-novel, what puts it apart from crime-novels from other parts of the world? A very unacademic and speculative input from Ævar Örn Jósepsson, writer and president of the SKS.
Location: The Nordic House

15.30 - 17.00: The Nordic Crime Wave, part V*: Is it a wave or just a ripple - the Nordic Crime Wave in an International Context.
What, if anything, from the nordic way of crime-solving/writing has seeped into other parts of the world? What have nordic crime-writers learned from their colleagues elsewhere? Does it matter if a man is killed in Scandinavia or elsewhere? Is the globalisation of crime fiction an opportunity or a threat? Etc. etc. A head-on investigation/interrogation regarding the matter of fictitious crime-solving around the world.
Head interrogator: Bob Cornwell, regular contributor to the Tangled Web and leader of AIEP's CrimeTime-project; a series of practical guides to the crime writing nations of Europe and, perhaps, beyond...
Chief suspects: Internationally acclaimed authors Jo Nesbø, Diane Wei Liang and Yrsa Sigurðardóttir.
Location: The Nordic House

19.00 - late: Farewell-dinner and international crime-fiction-quiz, designed to encourage as international a mix of people at each table as possible...

Location: Hotel Loftleidir

Even later: Pub crawl for night-owls and party-animals.

12.00 - 13.00: SKS's AGM

14.00 - ? Sightseeing for those with time on their hands. Sights - or at least some of them - will be relevant to crime, both real and fictional.

*Open for the public

mandag den 27. april 2009

The Glass Key - a historical overview

The Glass Key has been awarded by the SKS/CWS since 1992. A new link has been added to the list of links on the right-hand sidebar of this blog, leading you to a list of all winners and nominees.
All corrections and/or comments are welcome, but have to be made here, as comments are not allowed on the Glass Key-site.

fredag den 24. april 2009

And the nominees are...

So, here we are. In a little more than a month from now (may 29th), the Glass key 2009 will be handed over to the winner in the Nordic House in Reykjavík. All the nominees have been invited, and each and every one of them has accepted the invitation.
The first time all the nominees were present was at the SKS-AGM in Iceland 2004, and again, we got them all to show up in Copenhagen in 2005. And now for the third time, the whole gang will be present. It's an honour and a pleasure to welcome them all, and their presence and participation will undoubtedly make the joint AGM's of SKS and AIEP an even more memorable event than it otherwise would have been.

Last year, Stieg Larssons third and last novel about the adventures of Kalle Blomquist and Lisbeth Salander, Luftslottet som sprängdes, was awarded the Glass key - the first novel in the millenium-series having been awarded the key back in 2006.
Who will receive it this year? Let's look at the candidates. (As the Glass-key-ceremony will be a part of the international conference "The Nordic Crime wave", which again is integrated into the double AGM's of both AIEP and SKS, this post - just like others leading up to this event - will be in english, to the benefit of our colleagues joining us from all around the world.)

The Danish crime academy awarded the Harald Mogensen-award for the best danish crime/suspense novel to Lene Kaaberbøl and Agnete Friis for their novel Drengen i kufferten (e: The boy in the suitcase (People’s Press). In this story, Kaaberbøl and Friis introduce the Red-Cross nurse Nina Borg, who seems to have everything a serial hero can wish for. In the danish jury's words, their novel is a "breath-taking and superbly written thriller, told with a fine sense of plot and detail. One can only look forward to accompanying Nina Borg in future adventures."
Anton Koch-Nielsen, a veteran on the Danish crime scene and a long time member of the Danish crime academy and its jury, describes the plot as follows:
"The main character, Nina Borg, is a nurse in a refugee-center. There - and in her former capacity as an employee of various humanitarian organizations operating all over the world - she has become all too familiar with the [danish] authorities ineffecivity, when it comes to people in distress. This in turn influences her behaviour and decisions when she picks up a suitcase for a friend and experiences the shock of discovering its content - a little boy, alive and - barely - kicking. Determinded to do the right thing, she sets out to find out who the boy is and where he comes from. The reader, however, knows the answer to this: He was kidnapped in Vilnius, Lithuania, where his mother has mounted a desperate search for her son. She discovers a lead, pointing to Denmark - and thus, two amateur detectives, so to speak, have got hold of two seperate threads of the mystery. It sounds complicated, but is, as it turns out, a brilliant ploy.
The story gets scarier as it goes on, especially after the friend who asked Nina to pick up the suitcase is brutally murdered, before Nina can ask her for an explanation..."
The authors, Lene Kaaberbøl and Agnete Friis are both successful authors of books for children and teenagers. This is Friis's second book, but Kaaberbøl has sold millions of copies of her fantasy novels aimed at teenagers all over the world. The boy in the suitcase however, is their debut in the genre of adult crime.

Suomen dekkariseura, the Finnish Whodunnit Society, nominated Marko Kilpi, a novice in the field of crime-writing, for this years Glass-key, for his novel Jäätyneitä ruusuja, e: Frozen roses. But even if Kilpi is a newcomer in the world of fictitious crime, he is no stranger to the harsh realities of the criminal world, as he earns his living as a policeman.
This is also his hero's profession - although, fittingly enough, the tables have been turned in Kilpi's fictional world: The central character, Olli Repo, has recently quit his job as a writer in the advertising business, to join the police...
As a rookie and a trainee in the police-academy, he returns to his old home-town to learn the ropes of his new job under the guidance of his mentor, the chief of police back home. But once he's back, a series of mysterius crimes commences (involving a mysterious guy with a thing for explosives...), which demands more of his time than he can reasonably afford - because old family-business, preferably forgotten, inevitably comes up to the surface and demands a fair bit of attention now he's back at long last...
The finnish jury found Kilpi's story "surprisingly mature for a debut novel, tight in structure with a very plausible character description" The jury was also impressed by the fact that the novel's main character is not an experienced detective, "but a novice in his first job who makes almost all the mistakes a novice can make. He is, however, honest to himself and learns from his mistakes."

Beginner in the field, rookie, novice, debutant - none of this applies to this year's candidate from Iceland. On the contrary: Arnaldur Indriðason was the first writer to win the Glass key two times (and the only one to win it consecutively, Stieg Larssons two GK's were seperated by a year). The Icelandic Crime Syndicate proudly presents Arnaldurs Harðskafi, e: Hypothermia as the icelandic entry this year - in a bid for a record-breaking third Glass-key...
Awarding Arnaldur the recently established icelandic award for best crime-novel, Blóðdropinn (e: The drop of blood) in 2008, the jury reasoned as follows:
„This year's prize-winning novel is written by a well-trained storyteller. At first sight, it may not appear extraordinary, but the plot gets deeper and thicker by the page, as destinies of apparently unrelated characters intertwine and the main character discovers what he has been missing from his own life in the lives of others. And all the things he yearns for turn out to be what makes him an exceptional detective.
The novel Harðskafi is as deep as the lakes it describes; as vibrant with strong and diverse life as they are. But it is nowhere near as cold as the depths of the lakes are - on the contrary. It is aflame with strong emotion; love and faith, unfaithfullness and greed, ambition and injured pride."

This years winner of Riverton-klubbens (The Riverton Club's) prize, Den Gyldne Revolver (e: The golden revolver), is Vidar Sundstøl for his novel Drømmenes land, e: Land of dreams. The jury's reasoning goes approximately as follows:
The story is situated in an American, yet Norwegian-esque environment full of place-names such as Tofte, Hovland, Lutsen and Finland.
A young Norwegian on holiday is found murdered on the shores of Lake Superior in Minnesota, USA. Lance Hansen, of Norwegian ancestry, is an officer in the US Forest service. He discovers the body and becomes a central figure in the following murder-investigation.
With Lance Hansen, the author has invented a very authentic, convincing and complex character. A father of one son, Lance is divorced and has a volatile and ambiguous relationship with his own brother.
He gets involved in the investigation of the murder in a way he could never have imagined, and the reader gets a glimpse of a lonesome, sensitive man on the brink of an abyss he is all too well aware of.
A keen student of local history, Lance soon discovers similarities between the young Norwegian´s death and the strange disappearance of Swamper Caribou, an Ojibway-indian who walked these shores more than a hundred years earlier.
Before he knows it, Lance finds himself in a dilemma, where his immigrant ancestor's dark secrets - the ones he'd rather not know anything about, and those he's curious to discover - suddenly seem to be more relevant to the crime he's investigating than he's comfortable with...
In an intensive, authentic and thrilling novel, the author describes the main character's dilemma in a mileu full of suspense and mystery in fascinating social as well as natural surroundings.

Svenska Deckarakademin (The swedish crime-novel academy) has nominated Johan Theorin's second crime novel Nattfåk, e: Night Blizzard for the 2009 Glass Key-award.
Theorin is a journalist and writer by profession, living in Gothenburg but situating his novels in Öland, an island off the south-east coast of Sweden. Night blizzard is the "Winter-story" in a planned "Four-seasons" cycle.
A young couple buys the farm Åludden on the north-east corner of Öland, which used to be the residence of the keeper of the lighthouse of the same name. Legend has it that the house was built with the timbers of sunken ships - and therefore haunted by the ghosts of drowned sailors.
When the wife drowns, shortly after the couple move in, her husband grieves her but also senses her presence in the now empty house.
Tilda Davidson, the local police-constable, is not quite convinced that the drowning was accidental, but at the same time she has to deal with a small gang of petty thieves on a break-in spree - and try to end her relationship with her married lover.
Theorin builds the suspense and intrigue slowly but surely all the way to the end - with supernatural elements playing a tentative, but by no means verified - or verifiable - part in the investigation.

tirsdag den 10. marts 2009

Deadline for a murderous weekend

Although the special offer for the hotel-rooms at Loftleidir Hotel has (at least officially) expired, that does not mean you're too late to sign up for the AIEP/SKS-AGM's and the accompanying Nordic Crime Wave-congress.
The deadline for registrations is April 30th.
Send your registration to me, before that date, and you're on for an unforgettable, literary and criminally interesting weekend in Iceland.
And even if the special offer has expired, that does not neccessarily mean that you cannot stay at the same hotel as the rest of the gang. It only means that they do not guarantee that you'll get a room there at these dates and at these prices. So, if you reckon you're coming after all, don't hesitate to e-mail the hotel at icehotels@icehotels - and don't forget to mention the AIEP-SKS conference in your booking, who knows, they might just decide to forgive you for being late...
Ævar Örn

tirsdag den 24. februar 2009

The list of participants

Below is a list of the people who have confirmed their attendance at the double AIEP-SKS/Nordic Crime Wave-conference in Reykjavík this spring - may 28th - 31st.
I only list those who have explicitly and definitely confirmed their attendance, those of you who have hinted that you'll possibly or even probably be there will be added to this list as soon as you confirm your attendance, and the list will be constantly updated, as the confirmations roll in.

So, here goes...

From Europe

Agnete Friis (DK, SKS, AIEP - Glass key nominee)
Anne B. Ragde (NO, SKS, AIEP)
Bob Cornwell + 1 (UK, AIEP)
Borislav Iotov + 1 (BL, AIEP)
Carmen Iarrera (I, AIEP)
Charles den Tex (NL, AIEP)
Chris Rippen (NL, AIEP)
Diane Wei Liang (UK/China, AIEP, Special Guest)
Helga Anderle (A, AIEP)
Ingrid J. Kurnig (A, AIEP)
Irmtraut Karlsson +1(A, AIEP)
Janet Laurence (UK, AIEP)
Jo Nesbø (NO, SKS, AIEP, Special Guest)
Johan Theorin (SE, SKS, AIEP - Glass key nominee)
Jutta Motz (CH, AIEP)
Lene Kaaberbøl (DK, SKS, AIEP - Glass key nominee)
Marko Kilpi (FI, SKS, AIEP - Glass key nominee)
Piet Teigeler + 1 (BE, AIEP)
Richard Donnenberg (A, AIEP)
Risto Raitio (FI, SKS)
Susan Moody (UK, AIEP)
Vidar Sundstøl (NO, SKS, AIEP - Glass key nominee)
Willy Dahl + 1(NO, SKS, AIEP)

From the USA

Cynthia Smith (AIEP)
Deen Kogan (AIEP)
Jenny White (AIEP)
Jeremiah Healy (AIEP)
Jim Madison Davis (AIEP)
Jim Weikart (AIEP)
Sandra Balzo (AIEP)

From Japan

Ken & Harue Matsuzaka (AIEP)
Tadashi Oyama (AIEP)

Arnaldur Indriðason (SKS/AIEP)
Bergljót Kristjánsdóttir (SKS)
Coletta Bürling (SKS)
Eiríkur Brynjólfsson (SKS/AIEP)
Gunnar Gunnarsson (SKS/AIEP)
Kristján Jóhann Jónsson (SKS)
Ragnar Jónasson (SKS)
Viktor Arnar Ingólfsson (SKS/AIEP)
Yrsa Sigurðardóttir (SKS/AIEP)
Ævar Örn Jósepsson (SKS/AIEP)

torsdag den 19. februar 2009

AIEP-SKS Reykjavík - Things are shaping up

From now on, until the upcoming AIEP/SKS double-AGM/Nordic Crime Wave-conference is behind us, all posts on this blog will be in english. This is not only for the benefit of many Icelandic and Finnish SKS-members, but also for our international guests attending, who will be advised to look to this blog for updates on the preparations for the conference(s).
The Nordic Crime Wave-programme is shaping up, and this is what it looks like at the moment (most of this has already been listed in the last post, but here it is again, this time in english, and just a little more detailed):

Thursday, may 28th, 20.00: Get-together
The Writer's Union of Iceland welcomes the participants of the joint AIEP/SKS-conference under the roof of the GrandRokk-pub in the center of Reykjavík, a longtime benefactor of the Icelandic Crime Syndicate.

Friday, may 29th
10 - 13: AIEP Business-meeting
13 - 14: Lunch & lecture. Nordic Crime Wave part I: Crime in Iceland


15 - 16: Awarding of the Glass key (open for the public)

16.30 - 18.00: Nordic Crime Wave part II: Lectures - suggestions for themes more than welcome. Teh topic most probable at the moment:Nordic crime makes a killing: What's the secret behind the mysterious success of nordic mystery-novels? Suggestions for other themes are more than welcome (and volunteers to participate in panels/give a lecture on the subject as well...)(Open for the public)

ca. 19.00 onwards: Suburban bbq; eating, drinking and chatting/plotting into the bright night...

Saturday, may 30th
10.00 - 13.00: AIEP Business-meeting
13.00 - 14.00: Lunch & Lecture, Nordic Crime Wave part III: How to rob a nation and steal a country...


15.00 - 17.00: Nordic Crime Wave, part IV: Top drawer. Three or four best-selling authors on the international crime-scene interrogated about their crimes. Names of the suspects will be revealed at the earliest possible date... (Open for the public)

19.00 - late: Farewell-dinner with questions... A three-course meal, accompanied by a criminally insane quiz - and an even crazier quiz-master.

Even later: A pub-crawl in the center of Reykjavík for the night-owls and party-animals.

Sunday, may 31st
12.00 - 13.00: SKS-AGM & light lunch

14.00 - onwards: Sightseeing for those with time (and possibly money) to spare...

Everyone has to pay for his/her own accomodation during the conference. A special offer for conference guests at the Loftleidir Hotel stands until march 1st, 12.500 icelandic kronas for a double, standard room, 10.400 for a single, standard room. E-mail to
icehotels@icehotels and mention the conference in order to ensure these rates, if you choose to stay at this hotel (the farewell-dinner on saturday will take place there).

The sightseeing on sunday (4-6 hour trip) is still a work in progress - like everything else, I admit - but the sights will be interesting, some of them linked to real and fictional crimes, and the cost will be kept at a minimum (and if we manage to rig up enough volunteers with cars, it will be free of charge).

Defying one of the best known laws of economics, the lunches will be free - at least, participants of the conference will not be the ones paying for them...we hope.

The friday bbq will be cheap, and hopefully completely free of charge, but guests are encouraged to bring their own beverages (remember the DutyFree!)
As for the farewell-dinner on saturday - well, we're still working on the funding for that one...

That's it for now, more soon.