onsdag den 25. maj 2005

Copenhagen report

Dear all.
The SKS-conference and annual meeting in Copenhagen last weekend was, I dare say, quite successful. Of course, there was this one big, no, huge scandal, on friday, but I won't go into that, my lawyers are working on it - but apart from that, I think everything went better than most of us dared to hope for. This is not to say that all our troubles are over, of course, but they have been taken in hand and will be dealt with in the next year or so, and I'm certain there is a solution out there, and that we'll be able to find it - with a little help from as many of you as possible.
More on that later, let's start with a general summation of the weekend for all of you who missed it.
We met at Café Jonas for the awarding of the Glass key. The hosts of the café deserve our all the praise we can come up with for their efforts - not only did they serve us with plenty of delicious and beautiful food, lots of tingling, bubbly Fürst Metternich in no small quantities and quality beer for those of us who are not sophisticated enough to enjoy such fineries, but they also went all out to ensure that we would not be alone at that presentation. Their press releases, along with same from the publishers of Henning Mortensen, Modtryk, and our colleagues in Denmark, bore fruit, and there were at least a 100 people present when Anders Hammarqvist went to the microphone and introduced the candidates and Anton Koch Nielsen. Before that, Steindór Andersen, a unique chanter of old Icelandic verse, had given a short, but impressive performance for the guests.
Anton then presented the nominated novels in his precise, to-the-point no-nonsense manner, after which the candidates read short passages from their novels.
The tension was almost unbearable - at least where I was sitting - when Anders then went on to introduce Kirsten Holst, who took her time (at least 30 everlasting seconds) before announcing who the winner was... and of course, it wasn't me. I don´t know what went wrong, I had planned every detail of this conference, but some way or another I managed to fuck this particular bit up completely...
The winners of this years Glass key, as most of you will already know, are Anders Roslund and Börge Hellström from Sweden, for their novel Odjuret, and they were absolutely ecstatic, as was to be expected. It was very nice to see, on saturday, that their publishers in Sweden, Piratforlaget, were just as happy, and, what is more, quite aware of what the Glass key can do if put to the proper use, as they had a big ad in one of Sweden's biggest newspapers, congratulating Anders and Börge on winning the Glass key - good for them, good for Anders and Börge, and last but not least, good for SKS and the Glass key.
And again - congratulations, Anders and Börge!
Henning, Marianne and me all tried to put on brave faces and play the fair looser, but (I know, I know, I can only speak for myself here...) I think we all agreed that this was all part of the swedish conspiracy for world domination, although we might not have been in complete agreement as to where the Glass key should have gone...
Friday evening we went for dinner in the Koh-I-Noor restaurant, where a tasty Indian/Pakistani buffet was waiting for us, along with the surliest waiter any of us has ever encountered. His surliness, however, did not spoil the dinner in any way, quite the contrary, really - his manner of "serving" his guests was a source of great mirth to everyone present.
On saturday morning we met in the Faroese house for our conference. Sadly, we were one lecturer short, as Katrín Jakobsdóttir fell ill at the last moment and could not join us in Copenhagen.
Bergljót, however, did not let us down and presented us with some very convincing arguments for Iceland's Nobel laureate's debt to the crime novel - had it not been for the Icelandic crime novel Allt í lagi í Reykjavík (All is well in Reykjavík), she argued, Halldór Laxness would probably never have received the Nobel prize... For more on this, write to Bergljót...
Taavi Soininvaara then gave us an insight into the Finnish world of crime fiction for the last few decades, followed by Raimo Salokangas lecture (after a delicious, nordic lunch) on publishing crime litterature in Finnland. The trend there, it seems, is very much the same as everywhere else - the crime novels are gaining on "normal" or "high brow" litereture in terms of popularity, and this echoed what Taavi had told us in his lecture. This is in sharp contrast to what some people have been saying - including some quite prestigious crime writers - that the "crime-boom" is, if not over, then at least on the vane. And that, of course, is good news for all of us.
Jógvan Isakssen, our (only?) faroese colleague, then gave a fascinating lecture on the faroese crime novel, and it was easy to see that many of those present had never heard of that phenomena before, and it was just as easy to see - and hear - that they were absolutely fascinated by Jógvans account thereof. I can only recommend to all and everyone of you to look up Jógvans works on the Internet, his books have been translated into german, danish and icelandic, and if I understood him correctly, an english translation of at least one of them is on its way to get published as well. I hope I can get as many of the lectures as possible for publication here on the blog.
Kirsten Holst then informed us about the upcoming general meeting of AIEP in Merida, Mexico. There is a website, other than the one presented in the links on the right sidebar of this blog, on the AIEP-activities, I wrote it down somewhere, lost it, tried to remember it but had no luck - I´ll post it as soon as I find out. Anyway, the Merida-meeting is on, oct. 28th through nov. 3rd, so start packing...
We then rounded off the conference with a panel discussion, headed by Nils Nordberg, where all nominated authors, except Henning Mortensen who had to go home on friday night due to illness, participated in a lively discussion about crime-writing.
For dinner we went to Passagens Spisehus, and what a revelation that was! A relatively small, but friendly restaurant nestled in an alley leading to the City Theatre, their contribution proved to be one of the highlights of this years conference. The food was not only delicious but beautifully served as well, and the service in the sharpest possible contrast to what we experienced the night before. I think everyone who was there agrees with me when I say, that Passagens Spisehus cannot be too strongly recommended to those planning to have a nice dinner in Copenhagen.
Sunday morning at 11.00 we met again in the Faroese house for the AGM. The minutes of the meeting will be published here as soon as they are ready, so I'll just give a brief summary of events.
First of all, there was no bloodshed...
Only one danish representative, Bjarne Nielsen, was present at the AGM, although quite a few of them had kept us company up until then, and he will be, for the next year or so, SKS's official contact in Denmark.
The main goal of this conference/meeting was to look for solutions to the problems we've been having for the last couple of years - what has been done, where are we now and how do we want to proceed?
Everyone agreed that the statutes of SKS need to be overhauled completely, and the whole organisation needs a thorough reviewing and revitalization.
I think it is fair to say, that the main result of this meeting is, that we have now got together a work-group, consisting of all vice-presidents + Bjarne Nielsen and myself (who, in spite of everything, got re-elected as SKS-president somehow) to sort out, over the next year, what has to be done to secure the future existence of SKS and the Glass key.
We will be working closely with each other on the one hand, and, on the other, with our respective national societies in order to find the common ground we need, and to co-ordinate the diverse interests that have to be taken into account. So, you lot, be prepared - and willing - to do your bit to ensure a bright future for the Nordic crime novel!
Although it is customary to move from one country to the other for conferences and AGM's, this time we decided to meet again at the same place, same time next year, due to these unusual circumstances. After that, we'll hopefully be able to go back to the usual rotation.
So, reserve immediately the weekend 19th - 21st of may 2006, for a nice weekend in Copenhagen with your fellow criminals...
Ævar Örn.

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