Friday, 3 July 2009
Out in the world
Writing in Hbl, Philip Teir observes that it's now 20 years since Ulla-Lena Lundberg published the first part of her powerful trilogy of novels set in the Åland Islands and based on the story of the shipping industry there. The three novels make up a kind of Nordic "Forsyte Saga", and although from a conceptual and stylistic point of view they might be seen as something of an anachronism, the books are extremely readable and engrossing. And interestingly, Teir sees in them similarities to the sea- and travel-inspired writing of Vilhelm Moberg and Tove Jansson. As historical fact-fiction these novels offer a welcome alternative to the steady flow of Nordic crime writing that now seems to be never-ending and unstoppable, obscuring the rest of contemporary Nordic writing for readers outside the region. Sadly, Lundberg's trilogy still awaits a complete English translation, though Neil Smith has published some excerpts in Swedish Book Review.