What I’ve Been Reading Lately (August & September 2021): #WITmonth

I devoted August along with September to reading women in translation (#WITmonth) from outside Scandinavia, thus unfortunately making little progress on my Scandinavian Reading Challenge these last couple of months. This year’s #WITmonth selections brought me all over the world — Basque Country in Spain, Gulf of Finland, Moroccan countryside, working class neighborhood in Thailand, and the former Soviet republic of Georgia — through the eyes of female authors intimately familiar with their regions. Their perspectives provided a deeper look at the history and culture of these countries, many of which I have little knowledge of.

What have you been reading lately?


The Silence of the White City (Trilogy of the White City #1) by Eva García Sáenz 🇪🇸📖 (Translated from the Spanish by Nick Caistor)

I loved how this crime fiction novel transported me to Basque Country in northern Spain. A police inspector and his partner are assigned to investigate a series of brutal, ritualistic murders that resemble ones from 20 years ago. However, the perpetrator of those murders is still behind bars. Is he involved from within or has he been wrongly imprisoned? The storyline was complex and layered, jumping back and forth in time, and incorporated elements of the region’s traditions and mythology, resulting in a very engaging read. I’m eager to read book 2 in the series!

 

 

Book Voyage: Read Around the World Reading Challenge: Western Europe (Spain)


The Summer Book by Tove Jansson 🇫🇮📖
(Translated from the Swedish by Thomas Teal)

This was a very enjoyable book, a perfect quiet, summer read. It’s a series of vignettes about a very young girl and her elderly grandmother during summer time on a remote island in the Gulf of Finland. Their relationship is very sweet. The girl is at times temperamental and demanding, but the grandmother is always understanding and straightforward, at times playful and creative. They discuss and handle topics ranging from the inconsequential to the very significant. The island and nature play equally important roles in the story as the girl and her grandmother. Sometimes this is exactly the type of book you need.

I felt a special connection to the book because I grew up spending summers on an island along the eastern coast of Norway, not as remote as this one, but somewhat rustic. Reading this book brought back many warm memories from my island summers as a child.

Book Voyage: Read Around the World Reading Challenge: Book Set on an Island (Finland)


In the Country of Others: A Novel by Leïla Slimani 🇲🇦📖
(Translated from the French by Sam Taylor)

This is the story of French woman Mathilde who falls in love with Amine, a Moroccan soldier fighting for France in World War II. They marry, move to an inherited farm in Morocco, and raise a family during the time when colonial Morocco is fighting for independence from France. Mathilda struggles with their isolated life on the rocky farm in a tough climate. Also, raising two interracial children is not easy in a community where she is not accepted fully by anyone. The story weaves seamlessly between the different characters’ perspectives making this a compelling look at colonial Morocco in the 1950s. This appears to be the first in a planned trilogy, and I look forward to seeing how Mathilda’s life and those of her children evolve in the future.

Book Voyage: Read Around the World Reading Challenge: Africa (Morocco)


The Last Exiles: A Novel by Ann Shin 🇰🇵📖

This novel was a departure from my books by women in translation these last two months, but I was inspired by an upcoming author chat on Instagram hosted by @owlslittlelibrary to read it now. The story of a young university couple from very different backgrounds and their defection from North Korea to China was an intriguing one. I appreciated the insight into brokers, the black market, human trafficking, and the general plight of illegal immigrants in China. However, I felt the love story between the couple didn’t warrant the woman’s actions, and I felt their journeys were too easy and quick. Their experiences in China, however, were more descriptive and plausible, and that aspect of the book made a great impression on me.

Book Voyage: Read Around the World Reading Challenge: North Asia (North Korea)


Bright by Duanwad Pimwana 🇹🇭📖
(Translated from the Thai by Mui Poopoksakul)

This book reminded me a little of Tove Jansson’s The Summer Book that I recently read in that it also is a series of vignettes about a young child and their experiences with people around them. In this case, five-year-old Kampol, or Boy as he’s known to those around him, is abandoned by his parents outside their run-down apartment building in their working class neighborhood in Thailand. The community steps up and takes turns housing and feeding him. The reader meet all sorts of characters, young and old, who help Boy overcome his abandonment and sadness. It’s a heartwarming book that gives intriguing glimpses into the lives of a Thai working class neighborhood.

 

Book Voyage: Read Around the World Reading Challenge: South Asia (Thailand)


The Eighth Life (for Brilka) by Nino Haratischvili
(Translated from the German by Charlotte Collins and Ruth Martin)
(Narrated by Tavia Gilbert)

I’m a little over half way through the book but that is the equivalent of about 2 books! This is a long one, 944 pages or 41 hours of listening, but it’s extremely engrossing and I’m always eager to return to it. I’m grateful that hoopla offers the audiobook because then I can just keep reborrowing it until I’m done. It’s the story of a Georgian family, in particular its women, beginning in the early 1900s. We get an insider’s view of the tumultuous history of Russian Empire/Union of Soviet Socialist Republics/Russia. Niza, born in 1974, is telling the family’s story to her niece Brilka starting with their great grandmother Stasia. If long books or audiobooks are your thing, I highly recommend this one even though I’m not done yet.

Book Voyage: Read Around the World Reading Challenge: Eastern Europe & Russia


What have you been reading lately?

By the way, if you’re interested in snagging some Scandinavian ebooks at a great discount, check out my Scandinavian Ebook Deals. Some offers stay around for a long time, others only a short period. If anything looks intriguing, grab it before it’s gone.

Disclaimer: AVikingInLA is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com.

Virtual Nordic Events for October 2021

Virtual events are still going strong despite reopening across the country. This month continues to see plenty of opportunities to cook, read, watch, make, learn, and discuss virtually with others from around the country. What interests you?


17th of May Pin Design Competition (October 1 – November 15)

With a new year comes a new 17th of May commemorative pin design. This year help the Seattle 17th of May Committee design the commemorative pin for 2022. Enter your design in the shape of a shield showcasing a Norwegian flag and celebrating Norway’s culture and heritage in the Pacific Northwest. The winning design will be the festival’s official pin. You can win five pins and a family membership to the National Nordic Museum in Seattle. Find pins from previous years, contest rules, and how to submit your design by clicking here. Submit your design by Monday, November 15, 2021.

FamilieTid: Learn Folk Dances with The Nordic Dancers of Decorah (Saturdays, October 2, 9, 16, and 23, 2:00 p.m. CT, Free)

Gather the family together on Saturdays in October to learn traditional folk dances as performed by the Nordic Dancers from Decorah, Iowa. Each Saturday, a new video will be released. You’ll learn about the history of each dance, the dance steps, and then be able to dance along with the Nordic Dancers from your home. Click here to subscribe to Vesterheim’s YouTube channel so you don’t miss any of the dances.

Leif Eriksson International Festival 2021 (October 5 – 17, Free)

This year’s festival will be a hybrid of in-person and virtual events. Leif Eriksson Day on October 9 will be celebrated with a short virtual appearance by the beloved Norwegian singer and actor Hanne Krogh, who will be coming to Minneapolis for the festival in 2022. Krogh is one of Norway’s most celebrated stars. Other highly anticipated virtual events are a tour of Norwegian Emigrant Museum in Hamar, Norway, and a concert with mother-son duo Elizabeth and Trygve Misvær with Sámi songs, stories, and joik, a unique form of musical expression for the Sámi people. View the program here.

Nordic Book Club: Wild Swims (Tuesday, October 5, 5:00-6:00 p.m. ET, Free)

Read and discuss Scandinavian literature in translation as part of Scandinavia House’s online Nordic Book Club. Each month they select a novel from some of the best Nordic literary voices. On October 5, they’ll be discussing the new story collection Wild Swims by Danish author Dorthe Nors (Karate Chop; Mirror, Shoulder, Signal), out in translation by Misha Hoekstra from Graywolf Press.

Nordic Spirit Classics’ Second Friday Series: Leif Erikson (Friday, October 8, 7:30 p.m. PT, Free)

The Scandinavian American Cultural & Historical Foundation in Thousand Oaks, CA, is hosting a monthly series of Nordic Spirit Classics, a virtual program of selected presentations from 21 years of Nordic Spirit Symposia. In October, join to learn about Leif Erikson. Leif’s story of how he discovered America for Europeans is one that includes encountering polar bears, being stranded on an island, being tutored by King Olaf, and enjoying feasts of salmon and wine in his longhouse in the New World. He then sailed home to Greenland and into legend. Dr. Ernst F. Tonsing, Professor Emeritus of California Lutheran University, will recount the amazing legend of Leifr Eiriksson in anticipation of the national commemoration of the Scandinavian hero the next day. Participation is free, but you must register to receive the link.

Vesterheim Benefit Auction (October 9 – 17)

The auction includes a variety of beautifully handcrafted folk art, Norwegian sweaters, a Viking River Cruise, and a Colorado Getaway, along with many additional unique items. Proceeds from the auction will benefit Vesterheim’s Folk Art School, which has provided classes since 1967 in fiber arts, woodworking, painting, cooking, jewelry, blacksmithing, knifemaking, and more. Vesterheim’s annual Benefit Auction items are ready for viewing! Check out the pieces at www.biddingforgood.com/VEST-AUCTION, register your account, and get ready to start bidding from anywhere in the world.

Fika på svenska! Swedish Language Table (Saturday, October 9, 10:00-11:30 a.m. CT, Free)

Vill du ha mer svenska i ditt liv? Häng med på det nya programmet – Fika på svenska! Vi träffas virtuellt på den andra lördagen varje månad och diskutera ämnen kring det svenska språket, svensk kultur, historia och mer. Kom och prata svenska med oss! Fika på svenska is an online conversation table held entirely in Swedish. New topics each month explore Swedish language, culture, history and connection to Minnesota.

Book Talk: Dog Park (Sunday, October 10, 3:00 p.m. ET, Free)

On October 10, join Scandinavia House in New York, NY, and Politics & Prose in Washington, D.C., for a virtual book talk with acclaimed Finnish-Estonian author Sofi Oksanen on her new novel Dog Park. With moderator Bethanne Patrick, she’ll discuss the writing of the novel, an international bestseller, out in translation by Owen Frederick Witesman from Knopf on September 21.

Visit Binkhaven! (Sunday, October 10, 1:00-2:00 p.m. CT, Free)

Binkhaven is a real-life Norwegian fantasy nestled in Door County, Wisconsin. Join Vesterheim for a conversation with owner Elliot Taillon about the story behind Binkhaven as well as a guided tour of this one-of-a-kind historic cottage that is filled to the brim with one of the biggest collections of American rosemaling in the country. Not only is the main building designed in a Nordic theme, two of the cottages on the property were imported from Telemark, Norway!

Scandinavian Fall Baking Favorites: Swedish Apple Cake and Homemade Apple Donuts with Kristi Bissell (Sunday, October 10, 3:00-4:30 p.m. CT)

Join Vesterheim and Kristi Bissel of True North Kitchen for an afternoon of delicious fall-themed baking! Begin with Swedish Apple Cake, baked with a hint of cardamom and topped with caramelized apples, and then Kristi will share a recipe for one of her family’s favorite autumn treats . . . Easy Baked Apple Donuts! This Vesterheim cooking class is designed as a small-group cook-along and encourages exchange between the instructor and students in order to build community around food traditions. Participants will be provided with a shopping list and recipes prior to class.

Kindertransport Virtual Exhibition Tour (Tuesday, October 12, 5:00-6:00 p.m. CT)

Explore American Swedish Institute’s special exhibition Kindertransport – Rescuing Children on the Brink of War during a live, virtual tour via Zoom. Each week will feature an ASI staff member and a special guest. Participants can look forward to a distinct, highly interactive tour led by experts each month. Throughout this series, each speaker will provide a unique perspective on the exhibit’s content. October 12: Special guest Rabbi Alexander Davis, Senior Rabbi of Beth El Synagogue in St. Louis Park, MN, will use themes from Judaism to bring a faith-based approach to this story.

National Danish Book Club: The Employees (Tuesday, October 12, 8:00 p.m. ET, Free)

Explore a selection of Danish literature in English translation with this new nationwide book club. Each month a celebrated Danish author will be selected and discussed in a virtual setting via Zoom. Book Club Discussions will be moderated by Faculty Associate Nete Schmidt from the University of Wisconsin – Madison. Former Danish lecturer, Désirée Ohrbeck, will facilitate accompanying Literary Events. Current and classic works of Danish literature will be read and discussed, accompanied by author and special guest interviews. Join the online book club on October 12 to discuss Olga Ravn’s The Employees (De ansatte) translated by Martin Aitken.

Smørbrød with Patrice Johnson (Wednesday, October 13, 5:30-7:00 p.m. CT)

Join celebrated Nordic cookbook author and food historian Patrice Johnson (AKA the Nordic Food Geek) to explore the rich tradition of Nordic-style open-face sandwiches. From Sweden (smörgåsar) to Norway (smørbrød) to Denmark (smørrebrød) these sandwiches bring together some of the Nordic region’s best flavors, colors, and ingredients. You will prepare several classic sandwiches and even some with modern twists and you will learn the crucial elements that make a perfect smørbrød. This Vesterheim cooking class is designed as a small-group cook-along and encourages exchange between the instructor and students in order to build community around food traditions.

Taikon – The Untold Story of a Roma Freedom Fighter (Thursday, October 14, 6:00 p.m. CT, Free)

Join American Swedish Institute for a special talk by Lawen Mohtadi, the 2021 Out of Scandinavia Artist-in-Residence in the Department of Scandinavian Studies at Gustavus Adolphus College, on the Swedish civil rights activist and author, Katarina Taikon (1932-1995). She debuted in 1963 with the groundbreaking book Gypsy Woman, which also became the starting point for the struggle against institutional racism against the Roma minority in Sweden. Her most famous work is Katitzi, a 13-volume autobiographical children’s book series, that is widely read by generations of children and is today a part of the Swedish literary canon.

Twin Cities Jewish Film Festival: Kindertransports to Sweden (October 18-22)

The 2021 Virtual Twin Cities Jewish Film Festival includes the film Kindertransports to Sweden, which is the subject of the American Swedish Institute’s current featured exhibition. The film sheds light on the rescue effort that brought Jewish children from Nazi Germany to Sweden between 1938 and 1939, in particular highlighting four survivors.

The Pastor — Virtual Book Talk with Hanne Ørstavik and Rebecca Dinerstein Knight (Tuesday, October 19, 1:00 p.m. ET, Free)

Join Scandinavia House in New York to celebrate the release of the new novel The Pastor in a virtual book talk with award-winning Norwegian novelist Hanne Ørstavik (Love). With moderator Rebecca Dinerstein Knight, Ørstavik will discuss her new release, out that day in translation by Martin Aitken from Archipelago Books.

Demo: Mouthwatering Mushrooms with Erin Swenson-Klatt (Thursday, October 21, 1:00-2:00 p.m. CT)

Swedes love mushrooms – a quintessential fall ingredient in many dishes. Join Swedish American Institute for this demo where Erin will talk a little about the tradition of mushroom foraging in Sweden and demonstrate a couple of recipes that highlight these forest treasures. Even if you find them in the grocery store instead of the woods, you’ll know just what to do with those wonderful svampar (mushrooms). This class is designed as a demonstration, so students can watch the entire process and ask questions before tackling the dishes at home at a later date.

Voices of Sapmi: Yoiking (October 24, 11:00 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. PT)

What is yoik? What does it feel like to yoik? What can it reveal to us about ourselves and our world? In this one-hour Zoom class, Sapmi musician, composer, and actor Ingor Ántte Áilu Gaup (Ailloš) will introduce participants to yoiking, the traditional singing of the Sapmi people. The Sami are the indigenous people of Sapmi, which extends across Northern Scandinavia and Northwestern Russia. More than simply a “style of singing,” yoiking is an ancient practice that reflects a way of being and relating to the world that is rare in modern times.

Kindertransport Virtual Exhibition Tour (Tuesday, October 26, 5:00-6:00 p.m. CT)

Explore American Swedish Institute’s special exhibition Kindertransport – Rescuing Children on the Brink of War during a live, virtual tour via Zoom. Each week will feature an ASI staff member and a special guest. Participants can look forward to a distinct, highly interactive tour led by experts each month. Throughout this series, each speaker will provide a unique perspective on the exhibit’s content. October 26: Special guest Byron Nordstrom, Professor Emeritus in History and Scandinavian Studies at Gustavus Adolphus College, will provide a tour rooted in historical examination. He will also explore the Kindertransport experience from a Swedish perspective.

Vesterheim Bokprat (Book Club): Viking Economics (Wednesday, October 27, 7:00-8:15 p.m. CT, Free)

Dr. Maren Johnson, Luther College’s Associate Professor of Nordic Studies and Torgerson Center for Nordic Studies Director, facilitates a monthly bokprat (book club) discussing Scandinavian authors and Scandinavian life. Viking Economics: How the Scandinavians Got It Right-and How We Can, Too by George Lakey gives the non-economist the tools they need to examine, compare, and contrast the economic systems used in developed countries today. Lakey primarily compares the “Viking” or Nordic model with the United States. He gives all the history and statistics one needs to understand and form opinions while never boring the reader. Lakey brings in his personal experience and conversations with his Norwegian in-laws that stimulate the broader discussion.

Nordiska Book Club: The Bell in the Lake (Thursday, October 28, 6:00 p.m. PT, Free)

Nordiska in Poulsbo, WA, has launched its own book club for fellow Nordic reading enthusiasts to connect and be in community with one another virtually. Expand your Nordic reading repertoire and discuss a variety of written works the last Thursday of each month. In October, they will be discussing the Norwegian novel The Bell in the Lake (Søsterklokkene) by Lars Mytting in translation by Deborah Dawkin. Visit Nordiska’s event page for more information and to register.

4th Annual Sámi Film Fest (Saturday, October 30, 11:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m. PST)

This year, National Nordic Museum in Seattle, WA, is partnering with Scandinavia House in New York and the Pacific Sámi Searvi in Seattle for this must-see hybrid event, which explores Sámi values, visions, and stories through film. There will be an opportunity to participate both in-person and virtually from anywhere in the world. The program will include a variety of contemporary Sámi documentaries and short films, as well as panel discussions with the filmmakers.

Online Nordic Book Club: The Memory Theater (Tuesday, November 2, 6:00 p.m. ET, Free)

Read and discuss Scandinavian literature in translation as part of Scandinavia House’s online Nordic Book Club. Each month they select a novel from some of the best Nordic literary voices. On November 2, they’ll be discussing The Memory Theater by Swedish author Karin Tidbeck (Amatka; Jagannath). The author discussed the novel this past February in a virtual panel now available here.


Which October events or experiences look interesting to you?

Be sure to visit previous months’ listings of virtual Nordic events. Many of the events are now available to view as saved recordings.

What I’ve Been Reading Lately (July 2021)

I’m back with my monthly round-up of what I’ve been reading lately inspired by Modern Mrs. Darcy’s monthly Quick Lit where readers share short and sweet reviews of what they’ve been reading lately. All the books didn’t quite hit the mark for me last month, but the variety in both setting and genre kept it interesting.

As I write and post this, I’m enjoying books in translation by women outside of Scandinavia for August’s Women in Translation Month. I’ve got my stack of options (see my Instagram post, if you’re curious) and will read what appeals to me when I’ve finished a book. In the background of my reads, I’m listening to the 40-hour long The Eighth Life (For Brilka) by Georgian author Nino Haratischvili, translated from the German by Charlotte Collins and Ruth Martin and narrated by Tavia Gilbert. I am engrossed in this multigenerational family saga that begins at the start of the 20th century and takes place mostly in Georgia and Russia. So far a great story and fabulous narration of tumultuous history through the eyes of women.

What have you been reading lately?


Malibu Rising by Taylor Jenkins Reid 🇺🇸📖

This was my first Taylor Jenkins Reid story. I was intrigued by the local setting of Malibu in the 1980s, and it seemed like the perfect summer read. Unfortunately, it didn’t quite meet my expectations. I definitely enjoyed the first half. This is when the Riva family is introduced by alternating between the past when June and Mick meet and begin their family (starting in the 1950s) and the present (1983) when the Riva siblings are about to host the annual not-to-be-missed celebrity end-of-summer party. The mother and siblings did not have an easy life with the famous musician father absent for years. I enjoyed seeing how they persevered and supported each other. The second half which featured the party appealed to me much less. There was too much alcohol, drugs, sex, and out of control behavior. It got to be too much for me.


Sølvveien (The Silver Road) by Stina Jackson 🇸🇪📖
(Translated from the Swedish to the Norwegian by Inge Ulrik Gundersen)

(This book is available in English translation by Susan Beard.) It’s billed as crime fiction (won Best Swedish Crime Novel, 2018), but I felt it was more a story of loss and grief due to crime. It’s a dual narrative set in a remote and isolated part of northern Sweden which plays a significant role in the story. Lelle’s 17-year-old daughter disappeared 3 years ago. His marriage dissolved, and he is being torn apart from the inside. He has obsessively spent summer nights driving The Silver Road, where his daughter disappeared, looking for her in abandoned and hidden areas. Meanwhile, teenager Meja and her dysfunctional mother have moved to the area to live with a man the mother had met online. Over time Lelle’s and Meja’s paths cross. It was a very engaging read with main characters I cared about. The ending, however, was somewhat predictable in my opinion, but the visit to this community in northern Sweden was worth it. Stina Jackson’s next book, The Last Snow, is already on my TBR.

Scandinavian Reading Challenge 2021: A prize-winning Scandinavian book (Best Swedish Crime Novel, 2018; and Glass Key Award, 2019) OR A book by a new-to-you Scandinavian author


Her Dark Lies by J. T. Ellison 🇺🇸🇮🇹🎧
(Narrated by Brittany Pressley)

This is the story of a high-profile destination wedding that goes totally awry. Bad weather, dead bodies, and a ruined wedding dress are just a few obstacles before up-and-coming artist Claire and wealthy, handsome, and charming Jack can marry on rocky Isle Isola off the coast of Italy. It was a fun listen. I liked the unique setting, a secluded island with history and mystery. The rotating perspectives, including one that I was unsure about until later in the story, made the story even more intriguing and suspenseful.

 


A Woman Is No Man: A Novel by Etaf Rum 🇺🇸🇵🇸🎧📖
(Narrated by Ariana Delawari, Dahlia Salem, Susan Nezami)

Just last month I read Salt Houses by Palestinian-American author Hala Alyan, and  A Woman Is No Man by another Palestinian-American writer was an interesting companion read/listen. While Salt Houses revolved around a Palestinian family that remained in the Middle East, this book focused on a Palestinian family that immigrated to Brooklyn, New York. It was a disturbing and heartbreaking story of three generations of Palestinian women in America whose lives were dictated by the patriarchal beliefs of the homeland. The story alternated between Fareeda, the matriarch, who emigrated from Palestine as a young mother; Isra who was brought over at the age of 17 as the wife of Fareeda’s eldest son; and Deya, Isra’s oldest daughter born in Brooklyn. While an important story to hear, this particular story seemed very one-dimensional. All was very negative and repetitive in regards to men and women’s status in this community.


What have you been reading lately?

By the way, if you’re interested in snagging some Scandinavian ebooks at a great discount, check out my Scandinavian Ebook Deals. Some offers stay around for a long time, others only a short period. If anything looks intriguing, grab it before it’s gone.

 

Disclaimer: AVikingInLA is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com.

August 2021: Virtual Nordic Events & #WITMonth

Virtual events are still going strong despite reopening across the country. This month continues to see plenty of virtual opportunities to cook, read, watch, make, and learn all things Nordic which might help fill the void until you’re able to travel there.

Vesterheim Folk Art School in Decorah, Iowa, has seen great success with its online programming, and they are dedicated to continuing the growth of programs in an online format. Registration for online classes through 2021 is now open and you can find full information and sign up here.

Of particular interest to me this month is the Norwegian Film Festival presented by The Clark Art Institute and Images Cinema in Williamstown, MA, in conjunction with the current exhibition Nikolai Astrup: Visions of Norway at The Clark. It is a four-week series of recent Norwegian films. All films are free to view virtually.

  • August 4–10: Astrup: Catching the Flame (2019), biopic directed by Pål Øie
  • August 11–17: Hope (2019), drama written and directed by Maria Sødahl
  • August 18–24: What Will People Say (2017), drama directed by Iram Haq
  • August 25–31: The Men’s Room (2017), an award-winning music documentary directed by Petter Sommer and Jo Vemund Svendsen

August is also Women in Translation Month, an annual initiative to raise awareness of and promote women writers from around the world who write in languages other than English. Why not pick a female author from a Nordic country, or elsewhere, and experience their culture and history through their eyes? See My 10 Favorite Books for Women in Translation Month or Norwegian Women in Translation for #WITmonth for ideas, or consider reading a book by Swedish author Selma Lagerlöf who was the first woman to win the Nobel Prize in Literature (1909) and then attend one of the two “Knowing Selma Lagerlöf” virtual events hosted by the American Swedish Institute in Minneapolis, MN, to learn more about her life and work (August 18 & 25, scroll down for details).

What events pique your interest?


Run Like a Viking Virtual Challenge (August 1-31)

Grab your sword, shield, and Viking helmet because it’s time to run like a Viking August 1 through 31! Since Run Like a Viking is virtual, you can complete it anywhere in the world. Choose among a 5K, 10K, or half-marathon challenge and then walk, run, bike, skate, kayak or snowboard your distance. Grab your family and stroll a 5K. Or challenge your friends to a 10K bike ride. Or strap on those sneakers, fire up the treadmill, and polish off a half-marathon. However you move counts toward your mileage. Participants will receive an exclusive T-shirt and other goodies. All proceeds benefit the National Nordic Museum in Seattle, WA.

Demo: Swedish Saft with Erin Swenson-Klatt (Thursday, August 5, 1:00-2:00 p.m.)

Saft, or berry and fruit juice, is a favorite drink in Sweden, and it turns out it’s an easy and fun project for kids and adults alike to make at home – no trip to IKEA needed! Erin will demonstrate a couple recipes that make use of local berries and fruit, and even share tips on how to stash your saft away for a taste of summer later in the year. This is a live virtual class taught over Zoom designed as a demonstration, so students can watch the entire process and ask questions before tackling the recipe at home at a later date.

The Summer of Suspense: The Killing (Thursday, August 5 – Sunday, August 8)

In collaboration with streaming service Topic, Scandinavia House is offering a sneak peek of the first two episodes of Season 1 of the Danish Nordic Noir series, The Killing (Forbrydelsen). Follow the unprecedented Detective Sarah Lund as she takes on a series of complex murder cases, each with political implications, and watch as obsession consumes her. Season 1 kicks off with Detective Lund putting her retirement plans on hold when a young girl is found brutally murdered in a car linked to prominent politician Troels Hartmann. As she tracks the intricate web of suspects, Sarah becomes increasingly consumed by the case. Screenings of The Killing will continue with Season 2 (episodes 1 & 2) from August 12-15 and Season 3 (episodes 1 & 2) from August 19-22.

Film Screening: Riders of Justice (Friday, August 6 – Sunday, August 8)

Riders of Justice by Danish director Anders Thomas Jensen (released 2021) follows recently deployed Markus (played by Mads Mikkelsen) who is forced to return home to care for his teenage daughter after his wife is killed in a tragic train accident. But when a survivor of the wrecked train surfaces claiming foul play, Markus begins to suspect his wife was murdered and embarks on a mission to find those responsible. “A darkly humorous revenge thriller with satisfying depth and a dash of savory quirk, Riders of Justice makes another compelling case for Mads Mikkelsen as an all-purpose leading man.” Screening takes place on the Elevent site; purchase your ticket via Elevent.

Summer 2021 Virtual Folk School Series – The Decorative Folk Paintings of Sweden: Dalmåleri and Bonadsmåleri (Sunday, August 8, 10:00-10:30 a.m. PST)

This class is a part of National Nordic Museum’s summer-long Virtual Folk School Series. You do not need materials or supplies for these classes. Of the many folk arts that flourished in Sweden during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, painted wall hangings are probably the most original to Sweden. These charming and sometimes comical paintings depict stories told in painted scenes on the walls and ceilings of Swedish peasant homes. Join Pieper Bloomquist for an overview of these two painting styles, what inspired the artists to create them, and how they are used to create the images of Sweden that we cherish today.

Painting as a Harvest: Nikolai Astrup’s Bountiful Landscapes (Tuesday, August 10, 6:00–7:00 p.m. ET)

In this illustrated conversation, arborist/writer William Bryant Logan and painter/horticulturist Rebecca Allan discuss the intertwined labors of Nikolai Astrup’s life—farming and painting—as a model for re-establishing an intimate connection between people and the land. Reflecting upon how the artist and his wife Engel cultivated fruits, vegetables, flowering plants, and trees as a source of sustenance for their family, they explore how the farm-garden reverberated in Astrup’s singular images of planting, tending, and harvesting the gifts of the earth in early twentieth-century western Norway during the Industrial Revolution. Focusing on a selection of paintings from the exhibition and notes from Astrup’s motif books, Logan and Allan highlight the relevance of Astrup’s life to our time, reminding us of the enduring value of observing the climatic and chromatic qualities of each place and season. Event is free.

Nordic Spirit Classics: Second Friday Series (Friday, August 13, 7:30 p.m. PT)

The Scandinavian American Cultural & Historical Foundation in Thousand Oaks, CA, is hosting a monthly series of Nordic Spirit Classics, a virtual program of selected presentations from 21 years of Nordic Spirit Symposia. This month, from Scandinavians in the Old West, learn about the life and work fo Birger Sandzén, 1894 immigrant to Bethania College and the Swedish community of Lindsborg, Kansas, and “van Gogh of the West”. Participation is free, but you must register to receive the link.

Sisters of the Brush: Nordic Women Painters in the Impressionist Era (Sunday, August 14, 10:00-11:00 a.m. PT)

How can one explain the astonishing number and skill of Nordic women painters in the final decades of the nineteenth century? Enjoying an enviable degree of camaraderie with their male colleagues at a time when Victorian mores restricted opportunities of sister artists elsewhere, Scandinavian female painters lived in Paris, joined anti-establishment artist collectives, and pursued successful careers. Was there something different, more egalitarian about Scandinavia that enabled this singular situation? Join National Nordic Museum for a talk with Dr. Michelle Facos in conjunction with the exhibit Among Forests and Lakes: Landscape Masterpieces from the Finnish National Gallery.

Introduction to Finnish (Sunday, August 15, 12:45-2:45 p.m. CT)

Are you curious about the Finnish language, but not yet ready to commit to a multi-date class? Are you looking for a quick and low-pressure way to get excited about a new language? This two-hour virtual introductory workshop offered by the American Swedish Institute is the perfect way to get a feel for Finnish — pick up a bit of grammar and learn how to pronounce some words as part of basic conversation.

Introduction to Swedish (Sunday, August 15, 3:00-5:00 p.m. CT)

Are you curious about the Swedish language, but not ready yet to commit to a multi-date class? Are you looking for a quick and low-pressure way to get excited and prepare for an upcoming visit to Sweden? This two-hour virtual introductory workshop offered by the American Swedish Institute is the perfect way to get a feel for Swedish — pick up a bit of grammar and learn how to pronounce some words as part of basic conversation.

FamilieKlubb: Try Weaving! with Laura Demuth and Evelyn Galstad (Register by August 17)

Looking for a fun way to explore Norwegian culture with your family on your own schedule? FamilieKlubb is for you! Learn some Norwegian words and phrases and a new Scandinavian handcraft each month, and do it when it works for your family’s schedule! Weaving is a traditional handcraft explored by many cultures throughout history as an innovative technique for producing textiles for the home, clothing, or even to tell a story. Several distinctive styles developed throughout Norway, and you will learn a bit about some of them during this experience. The best thing about this class is that you can watch the video and open your kit materials to explore weaving whenever it is most convenient to you and your family members. Your registration provides you with a kit that includes everything you need to do family handcraft at home.

Knowing Selma Lagerlöf (Wednesday, August 18, 11:00 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.)

Delve into the life and accomplishments of Nobel prize winner Selma Lagerlöf with Ingela Eilert Haaland of the American Swedish Institute in Minneapolis, MN. Learn how folk traditions helped form her writing style, discover her role in film production, and see how she received inspiration from worldwide travels far and wide. Discover what lasting contributions Lagerlöf’s writing have made upon literature to this day, and celebrate the writer whose statue graces the gardens of the American Swedish Institute.

Book Talk with Arthur Herman (Thursday, August 19, 5:30-6:30 p.m. CT)

Join Norway House for a book talk with Arthur Herman via Zoom as he discusses his newly published work, The Viking Heart: How Scandinavians Conquered the World (publication date August 3, 2021). In this book, New York Times best-selling historian and Pulitzer Prize finalist Arthur Herman delivers a sweeping epic of how the Vikings and their descendants have shaped history and America.

FamilieTid: Family Cook-Along with Nevada Berg! (Saturday, August 21, 11:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. CT)

Gather the family in the kitchen and get ready to cook along with celebrated food writer and author Nevada Berg from North Wild Kitchen. Learn how to make one of her family’s favorite Norwegian recipes and experience the joy of cooking together with loved ones.

Demo: Folk Painting Figures and Clothing (Saturday, August 21, 1:00–3:00 p.m. CT)

Painting people is a challenging part of dalmålning and bonadsmålning (Swedish folk painting), yet without people it’s difficult to tell a good story! In this demonstration-style class, Pieper will give you tips to make this a much less challenging task than it seems. Learn how to make and use templates for your paintings and how to get the faces “just right.” The demo will cover inspiration for clothing and decision-making for posture. You will take away tricks to try at home and skills on how to study and practice.

Homemade Rye and Oat Crispbread (Knäckebröd) with Kristi Bissell (Saturday, August 21, 1:00-2:30 p.m. CT)

While crispbread might seem like just a cracker, Scandinavians see it as another form of bread and serve it for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and as a snack in between meals. Want to learn to make your own crispbread at home? Join Kristi Bissell of True North Kitchen for a hands-on opportunity to bake a batch of rye and oat crispbread in your own kitchen (and learn some delicious and inventive ways of putting that crispbread to good use!). Participants will be provided with a shopping list and recipes prior to class. This class is designed as a cook-along class. Enrollment deadline: Saturday, August 7.

Nordic Talks: Finding Solutions to Food Waste (Saturday, August 21, 2:00-3:00 p.m. PT)

The National Nordic Museum is hosting Nordic Talks, a series sponsored by the Nordic Council of Ministers, focused on the theme of food security and sustainability. In this fourth and final talk, panelists from Washington state and the Nordic countries will discuss ways in which the issue of food waste can be tackled and inspire the audience to act independently to limit food waste. The talk is free, but you must RSVP to receive the link.

Summer 2021 Virtual Folk School Series: Weaving – The Coverlets of Norway (Sunday, August 22, 10:00-10:30 a.m. PST)

This class is a part of National Nordic Museum’s summer-long Virtual Folk School Series. You do not need materials or supplies for these classes. Warm covers at night are essential during a Nordic winter, but the coverlets families used to place on their bedsteads were often highly decorative as well. Join Katherine Larson, author of The Woven Coverlets of Norway, as she describes many of the bed covers once commonly found in Norwegian homes. You’ll become acquainted with a variety of coverlet types, learn some weaving basics, and see a demonstration of several coverlet techniques.

Summer Book Club: The Complete and Original Norwegian Folk Tales of Asbjørnsen and Moe (Wednesday, August 25, 7:00–9:00 p.m. ET)

This month wraps up The Clark Art Institute‘s summer book club series featuring novels by Norwegian authors. Participants have discussed how these authors’ treatment of identity and sense of place resonate with the life and work of Nikolai Astrup, whose paintings and prints are presented in Nikolai Astrup: Visions of Norway. The summer book club series concludes this month with The Complete and Original Norwegian Folk Tales of Asbjørnsen and Moe, compiled by Peter Christen Asbjørnsen and Jørgen Moe and first published in 1841. Nikolai Astrup read and deeply admired these stories as a child. A new translation of the tales by Tiina Nunnally introduces readers to giant trolls, talking animals, and other remarkable beings that inspired Astrup in his creation of magical landscapes.

Demo: Swedish Summer Seafood (Wednesday, August 25, 6:30-8:00 p.m. CT)

From fermented herring to crayfish parties, seafood is a great entry point to some of Sweden’s strangest and most fun culinary traditions. Join Patrice Johnson for an evening of tips and stories as she cooks through a seafood-centric menu. From apps to main courses, she’ll share examples of fresh, smoked and preserved fish and shellfish dishes with light and easy takes that could be put together into a celebratory menu or could stand alone as a simpler weeknight supper.

Unraveling the Knot Basket: Investigating the Scandinavian Knutkorg (Wednesday, August 25, 7:00-8:00 p.m. CT)

Join Vesterheim’s Jane Laurence and Fred Livesay as they team up to examine a unique basket construction called Knutkorg (knot baskets), which were often decorated and used as special Sendingskorg (visiting baskets). Using artifacts from the Vesterheim collection; the Norwegian, Swedish, and Finnish digital craft archives; specimens from private collections; and examples of their own work, they’ll examine the roots of this unique craft in Scandinavia and the Baltic states in the mid-1800s. Additionally, they’ll share their research that delineates a continuity of this craft and an amazing connection to several communities in northern Minnesota in the early 1900s.

Knowing Selma Lagerlöf (Wednesday, August 25, 7:00-8:30 p.m. CT)

Delve into the life and accomplishments of Nobel prize winner Selma Lagerlöf with Ingela Eilert Haaland of the American Swedish Institute in Minneapolis, MN. Learn how folk traditions helped form her writing style, discover her role in film production, and see how she received inspiration from worldwide travels far and wide. Discover what lasting contributions Lagerlöf’s writing have made upon literature to this day, and celebrate the writer whose statue graces the gardens of the American Swedish Institute.

Introduction to Tapestry Weaving (Thursdays, August 26 – September 30, 5:00-7:00 p.m. CT)

Curious about how tapestries are made and ready to try your hand at pictorial weaving? This most ancient form of textile creation is rich with history and invitation for creative expression. Master weaver Laura Berlage will take you on a multi-week journey into the magical world of tapestry, where you will learn to transform warp and weft into a peaceful sunset landscape, measuring approximately 10 x 10 inches. Enrollment deadline: August 12, 2021.

Book Talk: The Real Valkyrie by Nancy Marie Brown (Tuesday, August 31, 2:00 p.m. ET)

Join Scandinavia House in New York, NY, for a virtual book talk with Nancy Marie Brown on her new book The Real Valkyrie: The Hidden History of Viking Warrior Women, out today from St. Martin’s Press. With moderator Anna Dís Ólafsdóttir, she’ll discuss the compelling new novel bringing the world of valkyries and shield-maids to vivid life.


Which August events or experiences look interesting to you?

Be sure to visit previous months’ listings of virtual Nordic events. Many of the events are now available to view as saved recordings.

My 10 Favorite Books for Women in Translation Month #WITmonth

There’s no time like the present to consider reading a book or two by a woman in translation. August is Women in Translation Month (#WITMonth), an annual initiative to raise awareness of and promote women writers from around the world who write in languages other than English. With international travel limited due to the pandemic and the Olympics going on in Tokyo, why not do some armchair traveling to countries of interest through books by women in translation?

Every year I set aside August to read women in translation from outside Scandinavia (since I read plenty of them regularly). I create a stack of books I’m interested in reading and see what piques my interest most when the time comes for a new book. On my TBR pile for August are books that will transport me to Spain (Basque Country), France, Italy, Iran, Rwanda, and Thailand through the voices of female authors from the region. I usually get a head start in July and continue into the fall.

Are you interested in joining this year? Here are my 10 current favorite books by women in translation. As you might expect, the list is heavy on Scandinavian female authors, but there are some other gems tucked in there as well. Please share in the comments any books in translation by women that you’ve enjoyed. I’m especially looking for female authors from South America.


Kristin Lavransdatter 1: The Wreath by Sigrid Undset 🇳🇴
(Tr. from the Norwegian by Tiina Nunnally, published by Penguin Classics)

This is the first in an historical fiction trilogy set in medieval Norway.

I was surprised by how much I enjoyed this book! It was nothing like what I expected. Kristin is quite the rebel and the book seems quite risqué for its time (first published in 1920). Broken betrothals, premarital rendezvous, poison, suicide, and coverups – so unexpected. It was interesting to learn about life in medieval Norway, and the descriptions of the setting are especially beautiful. This first book is the story of how Kristin met and was wooed by the handsome Erlend, breaking up her betrothal to another man. The series continues with her marriage to Erlend and follows her as she raises seven sons. I enjoyed this book so much that I completed the trilogy in the next couple of years, but this was my favorite of the three. Make sure to read the translation by Tiina Nunnally.


Convenience Store Woman by Sayaka Murata 🇯🇵
(Tr. from the Japanese by Ginny Tapley Takemori, published by Grove Press)

This is contemporary fiction set in Tokyo, Japan.

This book was a little gem — small, short, and heartwarming. I took a great liking to Keiko, a somewhat peculiar 36-year-old woman who’s been working part time at a convenience store in Tokyo for 18 years. Her whole being, both at the store and at home, is so attuned to the rhythms and needs of the store. Keiko thrives following the directives of the store manual and absorbing others’ dress, mannerisms, and speech. Despite her quirkiness, she has friends and is accepted and valued at her job. Also, I loved getting a glimpse into the Japanese culture through this convenience store and its workers.


Waiting for Tomorrow by Nathacha Appanah 🇫🇷
(Tr. from the French by Geoffrey Strachan, published by Graywolf Press)

This is contemporary fiction set in France by a Mauritian-French author.

Anita and Adam meet as students in Paris. She’s an immigrant from Mauritius and he’s from the French provinces. They both feel out of place but find comfort and love with each other. They move to the provinces, get married, and have a daughter. Life happens. She freelances for a local paper instead of writing the next great novel. He works at an architecture firm instead of devoting his life to painting. And then Adèle enters their life, resetting it in an unexpected way. It’s a short novel that packs a lot into its pages. It explores immigration, including undocumented immigrants; cultural differences in society and within a marriage; family and motherhood (stay-at-home vs working mothers), and ambitions. It’s a tragic story but beautifully written.


Love by Hanne Ørstavik 🇳🇴
(Tr. from the Norwegian by Martin Aitken, published by Archipelago)

This is contemporary fiction set in northern Norway.

This is the story of an 8-year-old boy and his mother who have recently moved to a remote village in northern Norway. They live together but lead totally separate lives. The story takes place one very cold winter night in the space of only a few hours. The boy is eagerly anticipating his birthday the next day, but his mother is wrapped up in her own world and desires. It alternates between the boy’s and the mother’s separate outings during the evening. What I thought might happen didn’t, and what I didn’t anticipate happened. It was a sad but beautiful story. At times it actually felt somewhat surreal.


The History of Bees: A Novel by Maja Lunde 🇳🇴
(Tr. from the Norwegian by Diane Oatley, published by Atria Books)

This is historical fiction set in England, contemporary fiction set in the USA, and dystopian fiction set in China all rolled into in one novel.

This is such an interestingly structured and thought-provoking book about humans’ relationship to bees as well as relationships and expectations between family members. It’s a look at the role of bees in the past, present, and future from the perspective of a family in each of those time periods, and over time their stories intersect. The first storyline takes place in England in the mid-1850s when beehives are being improved, the second one in the USA in 2007 when there is an increase in the number of colony collapse disorders happening, and the last one in China in 2098 when humans must hand-pollinate due to the total collapse of bees. As the book progresses, the reader begins to see how the three families’ stories intersect.

This is the first in Maja Lunde’s Climate Quartet. Next is The End of the Ocean which I also enjoyed, followed by The Last Wild Horses: A Novel (to be released in English February 15, 2022). The fourth book is still a work in progress.


Human Acts by Han Kang 🇰🇷
(Tr. from the Korean by Deborah Smith, published by Hogarth)

This is historical fiction set in South Korea.

This novel was about a horrific historical event I had never heard of before, the violent 1980 student uprising in Gwangju, South Korea. The story is told through chapters that are interconnected short stories. In the first chapter, which takes place in 1980, readers are introduced to several characters who then reappear in the next chapters over a period of 30 years. Interestingly, the chapters are either in first or second person with one chapter in third person. Be aware, Han Kang does not shy away from the gruesome details of this violent time, but at the same time, she shares examples of kindness and compassion too. (I have also read and enjoyed The Vegetarian, but I liked Human Acts better.)


The Nakano Thrift Shop by Hiromi Kawakami 🇯🇵
(Tr. from the Japanese by Allison Markin Powell, published by Europa Editions)

This is contemporary fiction set in Tokyo, Japan.

I thought this was going to contain some magical realism (since the cover I had originally seen has a woman flying into a subway train), but no, it was a down-to-earth look at the happenings and people in a neighborhood thrift shop in the suburbs of Tokyo. The main character, Hitomi, works the cash register. Her boss and the owner of the thrift shop is Mr. Nakano, a somewhat odd and mysterious person. His sister Masayo, an unmarried artist, is a regular presence in the store. And then there’s Takeo, the shy part-time co-worker who helps with pick-ups and on whom Hitomi has a crush. It’s an eclectic group of people, and I love a story with unlikely friendships. I also enjoyed getting a glimpse of everyday life in Japan.


Knots: Stories by Gunnhild Øyehaug 🇳🇴
(Tr. from the Norwegian by Kari Dickson, published by Farrar, Straus and Giroux)

This a collection of short stories set in Norway.

This collection of short stories is the author’s English language debut — 13 years after its initial Norwegian publication. The book is an eclectic collection of stories all of which explore the mind and thoughts of people in a variety of situations. Many are surreal; others are realistic. There is little action. They mostly deal with the characters’ consciousness. I was oddly transfixed by the stories. The book is small and slim, and the stories are short so I just kept turning the pages to see what creative and unique story would come next.

 


Quicksand by Malin Persson Giolito 🇸🇪
(Tr. from the Swedish by Rachel Willson-Broyles, published by Other Press)

This is contemporary fiction/crime fiction set in a suburb of Stockholm, Sweden.

The author takes us into the mind of 18-year-old Maja who’s on trial for her involvement in a school shooting in a wealthy suburb of Stockholm, Sweden, that left her boyfriend and best friend dead, along with others. We alternate between her time in the jail cell and in the courtroom along with flashbacks to her life leading up to the shooting. The book started a little slow, but as I got further into it, it was a page-turner that had me very eager to find out how it all could have come to this. Many timely issues to consider: school shootings, mental health, immigration, gun violence, wealth, class, parenting.

 


The Murmur of Bees by Sofía Segovia 🇲🇽
(Tr. from the Spanish by Simon Bruni, published by Amazon Crossing)

This is historical fiction with a touch of magical realism set in Mexico.

This is about an established landowning family in a small northern Mexican town in the early 1900s during the Mexican Revolution. An abandoned child covered in bees is discovered and then adopted by the family. This child, who is deformed and cannot speak and always accompanied by a swarm of bees, turns out to be a blessing for the family as they endure life in their little town with its human and natural challenges. It was a little slow to get going, but suddenly I was very absorbed in the story.

 

 


Special Mentions

Celestial Bodies by Jokha Alharthi
(Tr. from the Arabic by Marilyn Booth, published by Catapult)

This is a uniquely structured novel that follows three sisters who live in a village outside the capital city of Muscat in Oman. One sister marries after realizing she’ll never have the one she truly desires. Another sister marries out of obligation. And the third sister refuses to marry and instead waits for her beloved to return from Canada. The chapters jump between the first person perspective of the first sister’s husband and the third person perspective of various family and community members. It was hard to keep track of characters (grateful for the family tree at the beginning!) and time, but I was fascinated by the lives of these women in contemporary Oman, so different from what I’m used to or been exposed to in reading before. And I learned a bit about the history of the region which was interesting as well. This author has the special distinction of being the first female Omani novelist to be translated into English. The book won the International Booker Prize in 2019.


Tropic of Violence by Nathacha Appanah
(Tr. from the French by Geoffrey Strachen, published by Graywolf Press)

This book took me to a place in the world I’ve never been in my reading life, Department of Mayotte, a French island in the Indian Ocean between Mozambique and Madagascar. When Marie suddenly dies, her 14-year-old adopted son Moïse is left to fend for himself. He ends up involved with a gang in the largest slum on the island. The book explores hard issues – illegal immigration, poverty, race, class, youth gangs, and violence – through the perspectives of not only Marie and Moïse, but also the gang leader, a police officer, and an aid worker. This was a tough read, not a feel good book at all, but definitely an eye-opening and thought-provoking reading experience about a new-to-me part of the world, exactly why I like participating in #WITMonth.


Dødevaskeren (The Dead Washer) by Sara Omar
(Tr. from the Danish to the Norwegian by Hilde Rød-Larsen, published by Aschehoug)

This book is unfortunately not translated into English yet, but I include it on this list for anyone who can read Danish, Norwegian, Swedish, French, or any other language it might already be translated into. It’s an amazing and heartbreaking novel dealing with the oppression of Muslim women, in particular in the Kurdistan region of Iraq. The book is about a girl named Frmesk born in Kurdistan in 1986. She is unwanted by her father because she’s a girl. She is sent to live with her mother’s parents because the mother is afraid for the baby’s life if she stays at home. Her grandparents are very kind, loving, open-minded “parents” to Frmesk in a world where the Koran rules and women’s rights and freedoms are non-existent. The story moves between Frmesk’s life as a young child in her grandparents’ household and Frmesk’s life in Denmark 30 years later when she’s alone in a hospital bed for unidentified procedures. Real events, such as the 1988 Halabja chemical attack, are included in the story. It was an extremely engrossing and engaging story despite the difficult subject material. Sara Omar’s second book, Skyggedanseren (The Shadow Dancer), a follow-up to the first, also made a very strong impression on me.


Have I persuaded you to pick up a book by a woman in translation?

By the way, if you’re interested in snagging some Scandinavian ebooks at a great discount, many by Scandinavian female authors, check out my Scandinavian Ebook Deals. Some offers stay around for a long time, others only a short period. If anything looks intriguing, grab it before it’s gone.

Disclaimer: AVikingInLA is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com.

What I’ve Been Reading Lately (June 2021) & #ScandiReadingChallenge Update

Reading continues to bring me to other parts of the world while our international travels are on hold. This month I visited the Middle East (1960s-2010s), USA (various places during World War II), and Norway (early 1900s). And to make up for my current inability to visit Norway, I’m reading more books in Norwegian to feel like I’m closer (and to maintain my language skills).

We are now half way through the year, and I’m happy to say I’m on track to complete this year’s Scandinavian Reading Challenge by the end of the year. I have already completed seven prompts and have ideas for the rest. Not surprisingly, I am extremely heavy on the Norwegian books and may reconsider some of my remaining possible reads.

What have you been reading lately?


Salt Houses by Hala Alyan 🇵🇸 🎧📖

This was an eye-opening and engaging look at a part of the world and history I am not very familiar with. It’s a multigenerational story of an Arab family in the Middle East. Opening in 1963 in Nablus, a city in the northern West Bank, 15 years after the family had to flee Jaffa along the coast, matriarch Salma is reading the coffee grinds of her daughter Alia on the eve of her wedding and foresees an unsettled life. After that, the story moves forward in chucks and readers get a glimpse of life from alternating perspectives of various family members as they move around the Middle East and beyond. Readers witness the Six-Day War (1967), Invasion of Kuwait (1990), and Lebanon War (2006) through their eyes. Despite being displaced around the world, this family of bold personalities and oftentimes strained relationships stays connected and strong. This family will stay with me for a long time.

Book Voyage: Read Around the World Reading Challenge: Middle East


The Flight Girls by Noelle Salazar 🇺🇸🎧
(Narrated by Xe Sands)

This is the fictional story of Audrey Coltrane, a female pilot from Texas during World War II. She tells her story (in the first person) beginning with being a military flight instructor in Hawaii (at the time of the attack on Pearl Harbor) and then joining the WASP program, or Women Airforce Service Pilots, to test and ferry planes during the war. It’s an inspiring story of female friendship and strength that once again gave me a glimpse of a piece of history I had little familiarity with. I was a bit surprised by the love interest that ran through the story and couldn’t quite decide if I liked it or not, but in the end I enjoyed the story.


Hekneveven (Hekne, #2) by Lars Mytting 🇳🇴 📖

This is the second book in a planned Norwegian trilogy, the first of which, The Bell in the Lake, has already been translated into English. Despite my mixed feelings about the first book, I was very eager to read the next in the series. I was not let down and thoroughly enjoyed this one. It continues the story of a small, isolated village in Gudbrandsdalen (20 years later in the early 1900s), in particular the story of a young man (whose mother died in childbirth) and a priest who joined the community in the first book. I really connected with the characters, enjoyed the author’s descriptions of local life and the modern changes happening, and appreciated the inclusion of bigger events happening in the background (immigration to America, dissolution of the union with Sweden, World War I, and Spanish Flu Pandemic). There was even some mystery relating to an old tapestry introduced in the first book and circumstances surrounding the birth of the young man. I’m looking forward to book #3!

Scandinavian Reading Challenge 2021: Bonus 2: A book by a Nordic author you’ve enjoyed before


What have you been reading lately?

By the way, if you’re interested in snagging some Scandinavian ebooks at great discount, check out my Scandinavian Ebook Deals. Some offers stay around for a long time, others only a short period. If anything looks intriguing, grab it before it’s gone.

Disclaimer: AVikingInLA is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com.

Virtual Nordic Events for July 2021

Summer is here and under normal circumstances I would be going to Norway to reconnect with Norwegian culture and family (and spending time at the location of the photo above), but that is not the case this summer due to Norway’s stringent restrictions for visitors. So I will travel vicariously and virtually through books, movies/TV, and virtual events and continue to be grateful for technology to keep in touch.

This summer Scandinavia House in New York, NY, and the streaming service Topic are collaborating to bring you a taste of classic Nordic Noir with the Summer of Suspense series. Viewers are being introduced to three Danish series: Follow the Money in June, The Bridge in June/July, and The Killing in August. Viewers get a sneak peek at the first two episodes of each season before they hit Topic. Ticket sales support Scandinavia House. All guests registered for the screenings receive a promo code for 50% off their first 3 months to Topic.


Musikk Snakk (Wednesdays, July 7, 14, 21, and 28, 6:00-7:30 p.m. CT)

Join Ethan Bjelland of Mindekirken’s Norwegian Language and Culture Program for an exploration of Norwegian language pop, black metal, hip hop/rap, and rock. You will make and share your own playlists (even if you’re new to the streaming world), and you’ll discuss favorite musicians and hopes for the future of Norwegian music. You’ll also learn a few “need-to-know” songs for Norwegian social situations. Karaoke (on Zoom-mute) will happen! Instruction will be in English.

Nordic Spirit Classics: Second Friday Series (Friday, July  9, 7:30 p.m. PT)

The Scandinavian American Cultural & Historical Foundation in Thousand Oaks, CA, hosts a monthly series of Nordic Spirit Classics, a virtual program of selected presentations from 21 years of Nordic Spirit Symposia. This month they present “Western on Arrival: Swedish Immigrants and the Myth of the West” by Prof. Jennifer Eastman Attebery, Folklore and English, Idaho State University. Participation is free, but you must register to receive the link.

Aquavit Brunch Cocktails with Hannah Garry (Sunday, July 11, 11:00 a.m. CT)

Learn to make three brunch cocktails featuring a classic Scandinavian spirit, aquavit! You’ll make an Aquavit Bloody Mary, a “Norwegian Snow” (a riff on the White Russian using aquavit), and an “Oslo Sunrise” (a fruity tropical aquavit drink). You’ll use the principles of New Nordic Cuisine to craft these drinks, focusing on local ingredients and high-quality products sourced from small producers, and learn some basic home cocktail crafting techniques to take your drink-making to the next level. Your friends and family are sure to be impressed the next time you host brunch!

Summer 2021 Virtual Folk School Series: Nordic Knitting with Laura Ricketts (Sunday, July 11, 10:00-10:30 a.m. PST)

This class is a part of National Nordic Museum’s summer-long Virtual Folk School Series. You do not need materials or supplies for these classes. In this session, explore the questions “What is knitting?” and “What is Nordic knitting?” with teacher and author Laura Ricketts as she turns to friends, colleagues, and the archives of the National Nordic Museum for answers.

Virtual Book Talk — Magma by Icelandic Author Thóra Hjörleifsdóttir (Tuesday, July 13, 6:00 p.m. ET)

Join Scandinavia House in New York, NY, for a virtual book talk with Icelandic author Thóra Hjörleifsdóttir and translator Meg Matich on the release of the new novel Magma. “With astounding clarity and restraint, Magma sheds light on the commonplace undercurrents of violence that so often go undetected in romantic relationships.” With moderator Larissa Kyzer, the author and translator will discuss the novel, out today from Black Cat.

FamilieKlubb: Try Rosemaling! (Register by July 16)

Looking for a fun way to explore Norwegian culture with your family on your own schedule?  FamilieKlubb is for you! Learn some Norwegian words and phrases and a new Scandinavian handcraft each month, and do it when it works for your family’s schedule! Rosemaling (or rose painting) is a decorative painting technique characterized by scrolls, leaves, and flowers and has been traditionally applied to woodenware. Several distinctive styles developed throughout Norway. Vesterheim invites you to try your hand at this historical handcraft. You’ll learn how to try different brushstrokes, resulting in beautiful decorative painting. The best thing about this class is that you can watch the video and open your kit materials to explore rosemaling whenever it is most convenient to you and your family members. Your registration provides you with a kit that includes everything you need to explore this handcraft as a family at home.

Virtual Nordic Talks: Preventing the Collapse of Colonies: Saving Bees and the Global Food Supply (Saturday, July 17, 2:00-3:00 p.m. PT)

The National Nordic Museum is hosting Nordic Talks, a series sponsored by the Nordic Council of Ministers, focused on the theme of food security and sustainability. In this third talk, the panel will move beyond discussions of food consumption to address the first step in the cultivation of plant-based foods. Panelists from Washington State University and the Nordic countries will discuss efforts to combat declining populations of the world’s most important pollinator—bees. The talk is free, but you must RSVP to receive the link.

New Nordic Summer Apps with Patrice Johnson (Saturday, July 17, 5:00 p.m. CT)

New Nordic Cuisine is all about time and place! In this cook-along with food historian and cookbook author Patrice Johnson, you will cook together and prepare an assortment of fun and unique New Nordic appetizers using seasonal ingredients. The menu will include cabbage wraps, mini Västerbottensostpajs (Swedish cheese tarts), seafood and carrot salad, condiments (pickled mustard seeds, lingonberry hot sauce, quick pickles), seasonal fruit dessert, and a cocktail/mocktail.

FamilieTid: Concert with Fiddler Casey Driessen! (Sunday, July 18, 2:00 p.m. CT)

Gather the family and join Vesterheim for a fun-filled hour of fiddling with Grammy-nominated Casey Driessen! Sharing music and stories from his travels in Spain, Ireland, Scotland, India, Japan, and Finland, this will be an event that will inspire musicians of every age! All are welcome. Families are encouraged to participate together.

Online Nordic Book Club: Long Live the Post Horn! by Vigdis Hjorth (Tuesday, July 20, 6:00 p.m. ET)

The Nordic Book Club at Scandinavia House in New York, NY, selects novels from some of the best Nordic literary voices. On July 20, they’ll be discussing the new book Long Live the Post Horn! by Vigdis Hjorth, out now in translation by Charlotte Barslund from Verso Fiction.

Virtual Book Talk — Bolla by Finnish Author Pajtim Statovci (Tuesday, July 20, 7:00 p.m. ET)

Join Scandinavia House in New York, NY, for a pre-recorded book talk with Finnish-Kosovan author Pajtim Statovci (National Book Award finalist, Crossing) on his new novel Bolla. With moderator Bethanne Patrick, he’ll discuss the writing of the novel, available on July 6 in translation by David Hackston from Pantheon.

Travel Seminar: Saints of Norway (Wednesday, July 21, 6:30-8:30 p.m. CT)

Join Magne Hatlevik of Mindekirken’s Norwegian Language and Culture Program for a tour that traces the historical sites connected to two of Norway’s three Saints. The tour will start in Bergen and you will embark on a boat cruise where you explore the cloister ruins of St. Sunniva on the island of Selja and the Selje Monastery. You will also stop in Ålesund, Molde, Kristiansund and end up in Trondheim for St. Olav’s Festival. Here you will visit the historical battleground of Stiklestad where Norway’s Christian Viking King St. Olav met his fate.

Virtual Nordic Handcraft Workshop: Knitting Nordic Without a Pattern – The Wandering Shawl (Wednesdays, July 21 & 28, 5:00-7:00 p.m. CT)

The triangular shawl is one of the most quintessential and cozy Nordic knits. Folks have created their own patterns for generations, so that’s just what we’ll do in this class! Using yarn that you have on hand, or discussing suitable options to purchase, you’ll knit a shawl like no other. This class is perfect for beginning-intermediate knitters who can already knit, purl and cast on and off, but would like to learn how to play with design. The instructor will discuss several ornamental stitch patterns throughout the class as well. This is a great way to use up that special yarn in your stash, by creating a completely unique project to you! This class meets Wednesdays July 21 & 28 from 5-7 p.m. and is a live virtual class taught over Zoom.

Virtual Nordic Table Demo: Baking Tekakor with Erin Swenson-Klatt (Thursday, July 22, 1:00-2:00 p.m. CT)

When you think of Scandinavian flatbreads, you might think of crisp Swedish knäckebröd or thin and soft Norwegian lefse, but in fact flatbreads vary greatly in their size, shape, thickness and content. Watch Erin go through all the steps of baking one of her favorite Swedish flatbreads – the small and soft tekakor. These easy “tea cakes” usually make use of a little rye or whole wheat flour, and are a great choice for breakfasts, fikas and even traveling sandwiches. Learn about these lovely breads so you can make them before your next picnic! This is a live virtual class taught over Zoom. This class is designed as a demonstration, so students can watch the entire process and ask questions before tackling the dishes at home at a later date.

Virtual Crafts & Cocktails: Watercolor Northern Lights (Thursday, July 22, 6:00-7:00 p.m. PT)

Recharge from your day with an evening of creativity and fun! Join National Nordic Museum for their virtual Crafts & Cocktails event to learn a cocktail recipe and make a craft using supplies you have around the house. This month’s craft project is Watercolor Northern Lights with their teaching artist, Willow Heath.

Virtual Nordic Table Workshop: Berry Jam at Home with Heidi Skoog (Saturday, July 24, 2:00-5:00 p.m. CT)

Capture summer’s bounty in a beautiful mixed berry jam with preserving expert Heidi Skoog, owner of St. Paul-based Serious Jams. Pick up fresh berries from a farmers market or U-Pick and then go to work making a simple berry jam in your own kitchen and jarring it up to save for keeping or gifting. This is the perfect class if you’ve ever wanted to start preserving at home and are looking for someone to (virtually) check in over your shoulder.

Summer 2021 Virtual Folk School Series: Woodcarving Basics with Brendan McGarry (Sunday, July 25, 10:00-10:30 a.m. PT)

This class is a part of National Nordic Museum’s summer-long Virtual Folk School Series. You do not need materials or supplies for these classes. In this class, join Brendan McGarry to learn the basics of carving a wooden spoon from green wood, using traditional hand tools. There are many ways to carve a wooden spoon, but Brendan will demonstrate the process of creating a spoon starting with a log of wood and ending up with a finished spoon. While he carves, he’ll discuss the design, safety, and a bit of history behind this style of spoon carving.

Virtual Lecture: Discovering Artists Emil and Dines Carlsen (Thursday, July 29, 6:00-7:00 p.m. PT)

In this virtual lecture, National Nordic Museum’s Director of Collections, Exhibitions, and Programs Leslie Anne Anderson will trace the careers of Danish-American artist Emil Carlsen and his son, Dines Carlsen (1901–1966). This behind-the-scenes talk is held in conjunction with the exhibition Dines Carlsen: In His Own Manner, which will display selections from the Museum’s newly acquired collection of nearly 1,000 drawings by Dines Carlsen.

Virtual Viking Metal-Weaving Bracelet Class (Saturday, July 31, 10:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m. PT)

Dating back to the Viking era, this metal-weaving project is a great introduction to jewelry making. Using copper and silver wire, learn the steps for metal knitting—a simple looping technique—over a round, wooden dowel. Once the knitting is made, a drawplate is used to pull the knitting through, which compresses and lengthens the wire into a beautiful hollow chain. Then, by attaching end caps and a clasp, you’ll transform the chain into a lovely bracelet. All bracelet materials are provided, including complete instruction from start to finish, through discussion and demonstration of all the steps in the process. Materials will be sent to you by mail upon registration; class is virtual.


Which July events or experiences look interesting to you?

Be sure to visit previous months’ listings of virtual Nordic events. Many of the events are now available to view as saved recordings.

What I’ve Been Reading Lately (May 2021)

I’m continuing my travels around the world through books and am really enjoying this new focus in my reading. This month I visited Vietnam, Australia, and Norway.

Even though we’re half way through the year already, I’ve decided to join The Book Girls’ Book Voyage: Read Around the World reading challenge to help me continue the course and to find reading suggestions. The challenge is organized into 12 regions, and each month they share reading suggestions for a region. While their intention may be to read each region in order and share reading experiences, I’ll be skipping around since I’ve already completed reads for some regions and missed others.

What have you been reading lately?


The Mountains Sing by Nguyễn Phan Quế Mai 🇻🇳 📖🎧
(Narrated by Quyen Ngo)

This is exactly my type of book, historical fiction that opens my eyes to a part of history I have little knowledge about at the center of which is a strong, admirable female character. It’s a multigenerational story set against the Vietnam War. Grandmother Dieu Lan is taking care of her granddaughter Huong while her parents are fighting in the Vietnam War. Going back and forth in time, the reader learns about the grandmother’s life from birth in 1920 through the Great Hunger when her mother was killed and the Land Reform when she had to flee with her children to the current situation during the Vietnam War. It’s both a heartbreaking story of loss and struggle and beautiful story of resilience and hope. Highly recommend!

Book Voyage: Read Around the World Reading Challenge: Southern Asia


The Family Next Door by Sally Hepworth 🇦🇺 🎧
(Narrated by Barrie Kreinik)

I loved Sally Hepworth’s The Mother-in-Law (a 5-star listen for me) so I had high expectations for this one. Sadly, I was disappointed. This was about a group of neighborhood housewives with young children and too much time on their hands. Everything is going fine, or so it seems, until a new neighbor moves in. This upsets the status quo and secrets begin to surface. I had a bit of a hard time keeping the characters apart and I almost didn’t finish, but I continued to see how all the secrets would be resolved. Despite this disappointment, I still have her latest The Good Sister on my TBR.

 

Book Voyage: Read Around the World Reading Challenge: Australia & New Zealand


The Snowman (Harry Hole #7) by Jo Nesbø 🇳🇴 📖
(Translated from the Norwegian by Don Bartlett)

I had read the first Harry Hole book a few years ago and wasn’t a fan of him (a too damaged alcoholic with poor judgement), but I wanted to give the series another try since it’s such a popular one both at home and abroad. I’m glad I did; it was a fun ride! I really enjoyed that it took place in Oslo, so many familiar places. Also, Harry Hole’s character was much more likeable; he doesn’t drink in this installment and his skill as a detective really shines. In this story, Harry is on the hunt for a serial killer who’s been targeting married women with children and leaves a snowman behind as a calling card. It was very engaging and suspenseful with a satisfying resolution. I’m definitely open to reading more Harry Hole books.

Scandinavian Reading Challenge 2021: A Scandinavian book from a favorite genre (crime fiction)


What have you been reading lately?

By the way, if you’re interested in snagging some Scandinavian ebooks at great discount, check out my Scandinavian Ebook Deals. Some offers stay around for a long time, others only a short period. If anything looks intriguing, grab it before it’s gone.

Disclaimer: AVikingInLA is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com.

Virtual Nordic Events for June 2021

With more of the country beginning to open up and summer breaks on the horizon, virtual events seem to be slowing down a bit. However, there are still plenty of opportunities to cook, read, watch, make, learn, and discuss virtually with others from around the country. What interests you?

Beginning in June and continuing through the summer is a special collaboration between Scandinavia House in New York, NY, and the streaming service Topic to bring you a taste of classic Nordic Noir. Topic’s Summer of Suspense series will introduce viewers to three Danish series: Follow the Money in June, The Bridge in June/July, and The Killing in August. Viewers will get a sneak peek at the first two episodes of each season before they are released on Topic. Ticket sales will go to support Scandinavia House. All guests registered for the screenings will receive a promo code for 50% off their first 3 months to Topic.


Virtual Nordic Table Demo: Mini Swedish Celebration Cakes with Erin Swenson-Klatt (Thursday, June 3, 1:00-2:00 p.m. CT)

Get ready for summer celebrations with sweet, Swedish-inspired cakes! Taking inspiration from the traditional princesstårta (a marzipan covered cake popular for both birthdays and Sweden’s National Day on June 6) and the classic Midsommar jordgubstårta (a strawberry and cream confection), Erin will walk students through preparing a simple cake base at home and then assembling and decorating the cakes to be ready to share. These simplified mini cakes are especially perfect for small gatherings or to drop off with friends and family. You’ll leave inspired to bake up some sweet new treats! This class is designed as a demonstration, so students can watch the entire process and ask questions before tackling the dishes at home at a later date.

Summer of Suspense: Follow the Money, Season 1, Episodes 1 & 2 (Thursday, June 3 – Sunday, June 6)

In the first series of Summer of Suspense, viewers are introduced to the Danish series Follow the Money (Bedrag) which looks into the dark side of an industry where clean energy is a dirty business. Episodes 1 & 2 of Season 1 will be available June 3-6, followed by Season 2’s episodes 1 & 2 June 10-13, and then Season 3’s episodes 1 & 2 June 17-20. As part of the Summer of Suspense premiere screenings, Scandinavia House will host a Nordic Film Club discussion group online. Viewers can gather after watching each series to chat about what they’ve watched. On Wednesday, June 30, 6:00 p.m. PT, they’ll be discussing Follow the Money (details).

Cooking with Undset (Friday, June 4, 6:00 p.m. ET)

Join Paris Review’s Eat Your Words writer Valerie Stivers and wine expert Hank Zonai for virtual Undset-themed drinks on The Paris Review’s Instagram account. They will discuss food and drink in Undset’s work. Special guest Raphael Lyon from Enlightenment Wines will join them. This is a free virtual event.

Baking for a Scandinavian Midsummer with Kristi Bissell (Saturday, June 5, 10:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. PT)

Join Kristi Bissell of True North Kitchen as she teaches participants how to bake some favorite recipes for a Scandinavian midsummer get together. This class will feature Strawberry Cream Cake (Jordgubbstårta), Raspberry Hazelnut Thumbprint Cookies (Hallongrottor), and Swedish Oat Crackers (Svenska havrekakar). The class is live, interactive, and hands-on. You will receive the recipes, ingredients lists, and equipment lists in advance.

Virtual Kids’ Craft: Make Your Own Ski Jumper (Saturday, June 5, 10:00 a.m. – 11:00 a.m. PST)

This craft is offered in connection with National Nordic Museum’s temporary exhibition Sublime Sights: Ski Jumping and Nordic America. How far can a ski jumper jump? Kids will make their own ski jumper at home with this crafty experiment. Participation is free, but you must RSVP to receive the link.

Online Nordic Book Club: On Time and Water (Tuesday, June 8, 6:00 p.m. ET)

The Nordic Book Club at Scandinavia House in New York, NY, selects novels from some of the best Nordic literary voices. On June 8, they’ll be discussing the new book On Time and Water by Icelandic author Andri Snær Magnason, who joined Scandinavia House for a panel on “Capturing Sustainability in the Arctic” on March 24. “Based on interviews and advice from leading glacial, ocean, climate, and geographical scientists, and interwoven with personal, historical, and mythological stories, On Time and Water is a rich and compelling work of narrative nonfiction that illustrates the reality of climate change—and offers hope in the face of an uncertain future.”

Jewelry Making Workshop – Viking Knit Bracelet (Wednesday, June 9, 10:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m. PT)

Join Debra Carus from Elentari Handverk for a jewelry making workshop. Using silver and copper wire, pliers and wooden dowels, create one of the most ancient and lovely chains dating back to Viking times. Essential skills learned include: weaving fine wire around a wooden dowel (similar to looping), drawing down the wire to compress it into a bracelet form, finishing with simple wire wrapping techniques and adding a pre-made clasp.  Materials will be mailed to you in advance of the class. No experience necessary.

Stranger’s Guide: Scandinavia – Virtual Panel (Friday, June 11, 1:00 p.m. PT)

Join Scandinavia House for a roundtable discussion on the Stranger’s Guide Scandinavian edition. The Stranger’s Guide book series is an award-winning publication that focuses on improving global citizenship by providing excellent and unexpected storytelling from around the world. To celebrate the release of their Scandinavian issue, distinguished guests will talk about the changing face of the region from an environmental, societal, and cultural perspective. Editor Kira Brunner Don will also give an overview of the Scandinavian issue and the planning and thought process behind it.

Nordic Spirit Classics: Second Friday Series (Friday, June 11, 7:30 p.m. PT)

The Scandinavian American Cultural & Historical Foundation in Thousand Oaks, CA, is hosting a monthly series of Nordic Spirit Classics, a virtual program of selected presentations from 21 years of Nordic Spirit Symposia. This month they will present Gudridur, a dramatic performance from the Vinland Sagas of Gudridur, “the far traveler,” portrayed by Icelandic actress Thorunn Claussen. Participation is free, but you must register to receive the link.

Tastemakers: Effecting Change in Farming, Food Processing, and Packaging (Saturday, June 12, 2:00 p.m. – 3:00 p.m. PST)

The National Nordic Museum is hosting Nordic Talks, a series sponsored by the Nordic Council of Ministers focused on the theme of food security and sustainability. In this second talk, the panel will investigate how companies in the Nordic countries and the United States demonstrate their commitment to sustainable strategies to maximize growth and minimize waste. The talk is free, but you must RSVP to receive the link.

Virtual Nordic Table Demo: Midsommar Smörgåstårta with Patrice Johnson (Wednesday, June 16, 6:30-8:00 p.m. CT)

Celebrate Midsommar this year with a fantastic smörgåstårta, Sweden’s very own “sandwich-cake!” A festive option that can be scaled up or down for parties large or small, the smörgåstårta is a savory centerpiece composed of classic sandwich ingredients, but beautifully “iced” (with whipped cream cheese) and decorated with vegetables, herbs, and meat or fish. It is a true retro classic from Sweden, and a great and filling main course at any party – including a Swedish-style Midsommar buffet. In this 90-minute demo, Patrice will walk through the process of building and serving a summery smörgåstårta inspired by classic Midsommar flavors, with a discussion of fun variations and the many options for decorations.

Vesterheim Bokprat (Book Group): An Enemy of the People (Wednesday, June 16, 7:00-8:15 p.m. CT)

Dr. Maren Johnson, Luther College’s Associate Professor of Nordic Studies and Torgerson Center for Nordic Studies Director, facilitates a monthly bokprat discussing Scandinavian authors and Scandinavian life. Join in June for a conversation about the play An Enemy of the People by Henrik Ibsen, a later part of Ibsen’s collection of work that explores the tensions of economics and ethics, loyalty to family and profit. Enrollment Deadline: June 14.

 

Virtual Scandinavian Fest: Midsummer Market (Friday & Saturday, June 18 &19)

Scandinavian Fest brings Nordic shops and businesses together from around the globe in one online location during the absence of in-person festivals. The event will include 55+ Nordic vendors, giveaways, new products and more. To participate, visit the event’s Facebook page and mark that you are “Interested” or “Going” and keep an eye on the “Discussion” tab as soon as the event starts to join in the action. For a master list of businesses and discounts, visit the festival’s website  and click on “Shop by Category”.

Scandinavian Midsummer Dinner with Kristi Bissell (Saturday, June 19, 10:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. PT)

Join Kristi Bissell of True North Kitchen as she teaches participants how to make a gorgeous midsummer meal. The class will prepare Swedish 75 Cocktail, Mushroom Almond Spread, Scandinavian Roasted Salmon with Creamy Mustard Dill Sauce, Herbed New Potato Salad with Pickled Golden Beets and Capers, Quick Swedish Pickled Cucumbers. The class is live, interactive, and hands-on. You will receive the recipes, ingredients lists, and equipment lists in advance.

National Nordic Museum’s Virtual Northern Lights Auktion (June 19–26)

Join National Nordic Museum for the 2021 Virtual Northern Lights Auktion as they toast their incredible supporters and community. Vacation stays and trip packages, luxury goods, Nordic antiques, inspired gift baskets—you’ll be able to bid on them all online June 19–26. Then tune in on the evening of June 26 at 6:30 p.m. for a special live-streamed Auktion with special guests, toasts, and live auction lots. RSVP to the live virtual event here.

Virtual Teen Class: Nordic Landscapes Painting with Pratt Fine Arts Center (Monday, June 21 – Friday, June 25, 1:30-4:30 p.m. PST)

The National Nordic Museum has partnered with Pratt Fine Arts Center to create a virtual landscape painting class and exhibition program for summer 2021. Students enrolled in this summer camp with Pratt Fine Arts will get a virtual tour from the curator of the Museum’s temporary exhibition, Among Forests & Lakes: Landscape Masterpieces from the Finnish National Gallery. During the week-long program, students will then create a landscape masterpiece of their own in response. Afterward, paintings will be displayed in a virtual exhibition on the Museum’s website. This program is specifically for teenagers aged 13–18.

Norway House’s Midtsommer Gala: Not-So-Late Show and Silent Auction (Tuesday, June 22, 7:00-8:00 p.m. CT)

The Midtsommer Gala is Norway House’s annual celebration, dinner, awards, and fundraising event, a centerpiece of their community celebrations for almost 15 years. This year Norway House’s signature event has been transformed into a late-night talk show for 2021—a festive online show jam-packed with Norway House highlights, interviews, musical guests, and more. The silent auction, to be announced by email as the Gala date nears, is a varied assemblage of Nordic treasures, vacations, getaways, and gifts. For more information and to register for this free online event, visit the event page.

Summer of Suspense: The Bridge, Season 1, Episodes 1 & 2 (Thursday, June 24 – Sunday, June 27)

In the second series of Summer of Suspense, viewers are introduced to the Danish series The Bridge (Broen) which follows Detective Saga Norén as she and her colleagues investigate a series of crimes committed around the bridge connecting Sweden and Denmark. Season 1 (episodes 1 & 2) will be available June 24-27, Season 2 (episodes 1 & 2) will continue from July 8-11, followed by Season 3 (episodes 1 & 2) from July 15-18, and Season 4 (episodes 1 & 2) from July 22-25.

Summer 2021 Virtual Folk School Series: Rosemaling with Lise Lorentzen (Sunday, June 27, 10:00-10:30 a.m. PST)

Welcome to Rosemaling with Lise Lorentzen. What is rosemaling, you may ask? Rosemaling is the beautiful, Norwegian decorative folk art painting style that thrived in Norway from the late 1600s through the late 1800s. In this presentation, Lise will demonstrate the lyrical stroke work of rosemaling and discuss some of the history and fine points of this artform. Lise truly believes that for rosemaling and other art forms to survive they must be shared as much as possible. This class is a part of National Nordic Museum’s summer-long series of mini classes highlighting traditional Nordic craft. You do not need materials or supplies for these classes.

Vesterheim “TVprat” – Atlantic Crossing (Monday, June 28, 7:00-8:15 p.m. CT)

With a twist on Vesterheim’s monthly bokprat discussions of Scandinavian authors and Scandinavian life, join Dr. Maren Johnson, Luther College’s Associate Professor of Nordic Studies and Torgerson Center for Nordic Studies Director, for a “TVprat” discussion of the popular series Atlantic Crossing. Inspired by a true story of a friendship forged in wartime, Atlantic Crossing explores politics and ambition as Norway’s Crown Princess Martha flees to America for safety when her country is invaded by the Nazis, and is taken under the wing of the U.S. president, Franklin Roosevelt. Registrants should have viewed all eight episodes of Atlantic Crossing discussion before the meeting. Enrollment deadline: June 24.


Which June events or experiences look interesting to you?

Be sure to visit previous months’ listings of virtual Nordic events. Many of the events are now available to view as saved recordings.

Virtual 17th of May Celebrations for Norway’s Constitution Day

Curious how you can celebrate Norway’s national day on Monday, May 17? With the pandemic still limiting how we can celebrate, organizations are hosting virtual events this year as well. Below you’ll find a sampling of virtual events from various locations around the U.S. with strong Norwegian ties as well as Norway’s own national broadcast. In this listing, all times have all been converted to Pacific Daylight Time for ease of planning.

On our national day, Norwegians celebrate the signing of their constitution which happened on May 17, 1814. However, Norway’s call for independence was not accepted and so it stayed in a union with Sweden and didn’t become independent until 1905.

It is known to be a day of children’s parades and marching bands, hot dogs and ice cream, speeches and songs, and bunads and flags. “The celebration of the Norwegian Constitution Day is a party like no other.”


11:50 p.m. (5/16) – 7:00 a.m. (5/17) Pacific Daylight Time — NRK’s Gratulerer med dagen!

This is a tough one for folk on the U.S. West Coast to watch live due to the time difference, but you’ll be able to watch a recording at your convenience. Produced by Norway’s national TV station, program hosts Nadia Hasnaoui og Christian Strand will be filming from Oslo’s Akershus festning (Akershus Castle) overlooking the Oslo Harbor. In addition to seeing how Norwegians all over Norway celebrate, you will also get a glimpse of how the royal family will commemorate the day. There will be food and entertainment segments as well. For details on the program, visit Slik blir 17. mai 2021 på NRK (in Norwegian).

7:00 a.m., 8:00 a.m., and 1:00 p.m. PDT — Norway Day: A Virtual Celebration from New York City & Washington DC

Norway Day is a collaboration between Sjømannskirken in New York and Norwegian groups and organizations in New York and Washington, D.C. At 7:00 a.m. PT, join the Raising of the Flag ceremony which includes a speech by the Norwegian Ambassador to the U.S., Anniken Ramberg Krutnes, and music from Rockville Brass Band. This is followed by a church service from the Norwegian Church in New York at 8:00 a.m. PT (service in Norwegian). Finally, at 1:00 p.m. PT enjoy a 17th of May concert with musicians from both Norway and USA.

9:00 a.m. PDT – 17. mai Celebration at Pacific Lutheran University/Scandinavian Cultural Center

Join PLU’s Scandinavian Cultural Center in Tacoma, WA, for the premiere of their 17. mai – Norwegian Constitution Day celebration.

10:00-11:00 a.m. PDT — Virtual Kids’ Craft: Collage a Norwegian Flag for Syttende Mai

Join National Nordic Museum in Seattle, WA, and celebrate Syttende Mai with a Norwegian flag art project! Make a Norwegian collage flag. Cost: Free; RSVP required to receive the link.

10:00 a.m. PDT — Syttende Mai with Vesterheim

Join Vesterheim in Decorah, Iowa, for a free webinar as they celebrate Syttende Mai with friends from Norway and the United States! First Norwegian storyteller Anne Elisebeth Skogen will join the webinar from Ryfylkemuseet at Sand, Norway, to tell the story, Schoolgirl and My Very First May 17th Parade in 1962. Next, Decorah musicians Beth and Jon Rotto (playing fiddle and rhythm guitar, respectively) will offer Norwegian and Norwegian-American tunes from the Bethania Church in Vesterheim’s Heritage Park.
Register to receive the free Zoom link.

11:30 a.m. – 1:00 p.m. PDT — Syttende Mai Celebration with Seattle

Join an online celebration from Seattle’s historic Ballard neighborhood. It will begin with a pre-program lineup of entertainment and fun from 11:30 a.m. to noon. Then a virtual program from The National Nordic Museum will feature remarks from Grand Marshal Mayor Marte Mjøs Persen from Seattle’s Sister City Bergen; Honorary Marshal Eric Nelson, CEO, National Nordic Museum; and Ambassador Anniken R. Krutnes, Royal Norwegian Embassy; and His Majesty King Harald V of Norway. It will also include memories from past Syttende Mai celebrations and Syttende Mai song sing-alongs.

5:00-6:00 p.m. PDT — Syttende Mai Celebration with Minnesota

Syttende Mai Minnesota will host an online event in honor of Norway’s Constitution Day. Connect with the Norwegian-American community and hear remarks from Her Excellency Ambassador Anniken Krutnes, Norway’s Ambassador to the United States. Afterwards, Ethan Bjelland from Norway House and Mindekirken’s Norwegian Language & Culture Program will lead us in singing a few celebratory songs! This event is complimentary and accessible to everyone. Register by May 16.

5:30 p.m. PDT — 17. mai feiring med Sjømannskirken i Los Angeles

Sjømannskirken in Los Angeles is hosting an in-person celebration with limited capacity. However, festivities will be live-streamed on their Facebook page for those who would like to follow along. The program includes speeches, music, song, Norwegian flags, and a raffle.


How will you be celebrating 17. mai this year?