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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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Virtual events continue to flourish. There are author talks and panels, film and documentary screenings, cooking workshops, art talks and craft workshops, and festivals on the schedule for October that can all be experienced from the comfort of your own computer. Be sure to visit last month’s Virtual Scandinavian Events for events that happened in September. Many of them are available to view after the fact as saved recordings.
For me, September was a busy month of virtual events. I particularly enjoyed the launch event for Norwegian author Agnes Ravatn’s new psychological thriller The Seven Doors which translator Rosie Hedger also joined. I found the Dual Citizenship Webinar hosted by Norwegian Honorary Consulate General, Minneapolis, MN, very informative and helpful. Of particular interest to me were the discussions on reinstating Norwegian citizenship (for me) and retention of Norwegian citizenship (for my kids). If either of these topics are of interest to you and you missed the webinar, you can view a recording of the webinar.
Winner of the Creative Storytelling Prize at Sundance, Norwegian documentary filmmaker Benjamin Ree’s “expertly plotted, genre-blending documentary explores the personal repercussions of an extraordinary art heist… The sheer audacity of the theft of artist Barbora Kysilkova’s enormous paintings from the windows of an Oslo gallery immediately piqued documentarian Benjamin Ree’s interest. Neither he, Kysilkova nor the perpetrators could have predicted what happened next.” Available starting October 8 on BFI Player. Visit BFI London Film Festival’s film page for details.
Scandinavia House in New York, NY, is hosting a virtual cinema presentation of Out Stealing Horses, a film based on the award-winning novel by Norwegian author Per Petterson. Immediately following the film there will be a pre-recorded discussion between Stellan Skarsgård and filmmaker Hans Petter Moland. Half of proceeds will go to support American-Scandinavian Foundation and Scandinavia House. For more information and to purchase access, visit Scandinavia House’s event page. An end date has not yet been set for film screenings.
Scandinavia House in New York, NY, is also hosting a virtual cinema presentation of the hit Icelandic film A White, White Day with Film Movement. A White, White Day is an emotionally complex exploration of the ravages of loss set across the hypnotic landscape of Iceland. Half of proceeds will go to support American-Scandinavian Foundation and Scandinavia House. For more information and to purchase access, visit Scandinavia House’s event page. An end date has not yet been set for film screenings.
The medieval Baldishol tapestry from 1180 is the oldest known Norwegian tapestry and one of the oldest in Europe and is a national treasure familiar to most Norwegians. This exhibit features 26 works by local, national, and international fiber artists who draw inspiration from the Baldishol. Enjoy the Baldishol exhibit, along with accompanying artist statements and bios, in this virtual exhibit.
Join National Nordic Museum in Seattle, WA, for story time and a craft with their special guest, librarian Sara Jensen. Listen to the Danish folk tale The Fat Cat by Jack Kent, and then after the story Sara will teach kids how to make their own cat with items found at home.
This online event is hosted by ASF (American-Scandinavian Foundation) and Scandinavia House in New York, NY. “Norwegian author Lars Mytting joins us for a virtual book launch event on The Bell in the Lake, an engrossing epic novel and #1 bestseller in Norway about a young woman with a mystical fate, available in English translation from The Overlook Press beginning September 29.” For more information and to register, visit Scandinavia House’s event page.
Scandinavian Fest brings Nordic shops and businesses from around the globe together in one online location during the absence of in-person festivals. Friday, October 2, – Sunday, October 4, join Virtual Fall Folk Festival to discover unique Nordic products, take advantage of discounts, and win give-aways! For more information, visit Virtual Fall Folk Festival on Facebook.
The Leif Eriksson International Festival was formed in 1987 to establish an annual festival to celebrate Nordic cultural roots in the United States. Over the years, the events have brought top-ranked Nordic talent to Minneapolis. This year’s event will be virtual and feature a variety of programming including both live-streaming and pre-recorded musical performances, online worship services, and daily “destinations of the day”. Click here for the 2020 LEIF Program.
Ever wonder how that extraordinary crisp bread is made? Join Scandinavian School in San Francisco and native Dane Leda Jessen for a traditional baking event and get the chance to learn the secrets to how the bread gets its crisp. You will be sent a list of ingredients needed prior to the event, and together with Leda you will bake the day away. For more information and to register, visit The Scandinavian School & Cultural Center’s event page.
We Carry it Within Us by director Helle Stenum investigates collective memory and different perspectives on the shared colonial past between Denmark and U.S. Virgin Islands. In We Carry It Within Us, the legacy of slavery, the memory of the Danish presence, the sale of St. Thomas, St. John, and St. Croix, and the relationship of the islands to the U.S., are told through interviews conducted on St. Croix, in New York, and in Copenhagen. You can view the movie online October 4–18.
National Nordic Museum’s Director of Collections, Exhibitions, and Programs Leslie Anne Anderson will trace the career of Danish-American artists Dines Carlsen (1901-66) and his son (Søren) Emil Carlsen. This behind-the-scenes virtual talk will share the plans for an upcoming exhibition devoted to the artist and display selections from the Museum’s newly acquired collection of 943 drawings by Dines Carlsen. For more information and to register visit National Nordic Museum’s event page.
“Nordic Authors You Should Know” at Scandinavia House in New York, NY, continues with a focus on Icelandic literature with The Imposter Poets, a poetry collective made up of members Thórdís Helgadóttir, Thóra Hjörleifsdóttir, Fríða Ísberg, Ragnheiður Harpa Leifsdóttir, Sunna Dís Másdóttir, and Melkorka Ólafsdóttir, moderated by author and translator Larissa Kyzer. The event will begin with short readings of each of the authors’ work in both English and in Icelandic, followed by interviews with the authors and a conversation on Icelandic literature today. For more information and to register, visit Scandinavia House’s event page.
This October, Scandinavia House is excited to present virtual screenings of The Blinding Sea, a new film by George Tombs that explores the life and loves of Roald Amundsen (1872-1928). “The Norwegian polar explorer Roald Amundsen hungered for ice-choked seas and desert places — but more than that, he had a passionate interest in acquiring new knowledge… Shot on locations including an icebreaker wintering in the Beaufort Sea, a tall ship on the Southern Ocean, on dog-team in Alaska and the Canadian Arctic, as well as the glaciers of Antarctica and Norway, the film combines factual accuracy with bold story-telling, a cross-cultural approach, oral histories, a focus on physical and psychological health, and the refreshing eye-witness perspective of an acclaimed biographer.” Director George Tombs will join a virtual film talk to accompany the release on October 13. For more information, visit Scandinavia House’s event page.
Dr. Samuel Claussen, Assistant Professor of History at California Lutheran University in Thousand Oaks, CA, will examine Leif Erikson’s activities and family in light of the intersections of law, feud, and vengeance. The Erikson family members, especially Leif’s father, were encouraged in their exploring lifestyle due to problems with the law and society in which they operated. Also, Howard Rockstad will briefly discuss the history of Leif Erikson Day and the annual presidential proclamations, including the southern California Leif Erikson Association responsible for congressional authorization of the presidential proclamations. Join the Zoom meeting on October 9.
A kransekake is the commanding centerpiece dessert at Norwegian weddings, graduations, baptisms, and other major life events. Made with ground almonds and consisting of tiers of wreath-shaped layers, the cake has a rich taste and texture that is uniquely its own. Learn to make this impressive cake with Brenda Lewis. Brenda will walk you through the steps of making a kransekake in this hands-on class and give you the confidence to bake one on your own. On Saturday, October 10, Brenda is teaching two sessions of the same class. For more information, visit Norway House’s event page.
“Nordic Authors You Should Know” at Scandinavia House in New York, NY, continues with a focus on Finnish literature with Selja Ahava, Rosa Liksom, Johanna Sinisalo, and Antti Tuomainen, moderated by author and translator Lola Rogers. The event will begin with short readings of each of the authors’ work in both English and in Finnish, followed by interviews with the authors and a conversation on Finnish literature today. For more information and to register, visit Scandinavia House’s event page.
In coordination with the virtual cinema presentation of The Blinding Sea, a new film exploring the life and loves of Roald Amundsen (1872-1928), director George Tombs joins for a discussion on the film on Tuesday, October 13. Tombs will discuss the explorer as well as the making of this film, which was shot on locations ranging from icebreakers in the Beaufort Sea to glaciers of Antarctica and Norway, as well as his focus on incorporating a cross-cultural approach, oral histories, a focus on physical and psychological health, and eye-witness perspectives to the film. Registration is required; visit Scandinavia House’s event page for more details.
Hosted by Iceland Writers Retreat and Reykjavík Bókmenntaborg UNESCO, this panel will feature writer, poet and former IWR faculty Gerður Kristný, crime writer Lilja Sigurðardóttir, poet and former IWR volunteer Fríða Ísberg, and writer and poet Mazen Maarouf. Moderated by IWR Co-Founder Eliza Reid. Co-presented with Reykjavík UNESCO City of Literature. The event will be broadcast on the Facebook page of @Icelandwritersretreat.
Braid and finish a beautiful bracelet inspired by the Sámi art of tenntråd, or pewter wire art. Students will receive a kit with all the materials to make a bracelet out of natural materials including pewter wire, reindeer leather and an antler button, plus a reusable clamp for future braiding projects. This is a live virtual class taught over Zoom. This is a participatory class and spots are intentionally limited to allow interaction between students and the instructor. The class is currently sold out, but you may call to be added to a waitlist. Please visit American Swedish Institute’s event page for more details.
Join National Nordic Museum in Seattle, WA, for an intimate series of virtual book talks where you get to “meet the author”! Each talk is moderated by Dr. Elizabeth DeNoma and will include an opportunity to ask questions to the authors. For the first talk meet Jan Stocklassa who will discuss his book The Man Who Played with Fire, translated by Tara F. Chace. For details about the book and registration information, visit the National Nordic Museum’s event page.
“Nordic Authors You Should Know” at Scandinavia House in New York, NY, continues with a focus on literature from the Faroe Islands with Rakel Helmsdal, Carl Jóhan Jensen, and Marjun Syderbø Kjælnes, moderated by translator Kerri Pierce. The event will begin with short readings of each of the authors’ work in both the original language and in English, followed by interviews with the authors and a conversation on Faroese literature today.
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 October to discuss The Redbreast, the third book in the Harry Hole detective series by Jo Nesbø. For more information and to register, visit their event page.
Recharge from your day with an evening of creativity and fun! Join National Nordic Museum’s virtual Crafts & Cocktails event to learn a cocktail recipe and make a Nordic craft using supplies you have around the house. For registration information, visit the National Nordic Museum’s event page.
“Nordic Authors You Should Know” at Scandinavia House in New York, NY, continues with a focus on Norwegian literature with Jan Grue, Roy Jacobsen, Kaja Kvernbakken, and Ruth Lillegraven, moderated by author and translator Karen Havelin. The event will begin with short readings of each of the authors’ work in both English and Norwegian, followed by interviews with the authors and a conversation on Norwegian literature today. For more information and to register, visit Scandinavia House’s event page.
Online Nordic Book Club at Scandinavia House in New York, NY
The Nordic Book Club at Scandinavia House in New York, NY, selects novels from some of the best Nordic literary voices. It now meets bi-weekly online. Here are their upcoming meetings. Click the dates for more information and to register.
October 6: The Family Clause by Jonas Hassen Khemiri (translated from the Swedish by Alice Menzies)
October 20: The Bell in the Lake by Lars Mytting (translated from the Norwegian by Deborah Dawkin)
November 3: Palm Beach Finland by Antti Tuomainen (translated from the Finnish by David Hackston)
November 17: Companions by Christina Hesselholdt (translated from the Danish by Paul Russell Garrett)
I hope you found something of interest for the month ahead. Feel free to reach out to me if you have events to share.
Are you looking for fresh ideas of what to watch while you’re staying safer at home? In this post, I’m featuring films and TV series from Norway. Sweden and Denmark will follow shortly.
For streaming options, you have, of course, the usual suspects – Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, Hulu, etc. – but don’t forget, you may have free streaming options available from your public library through hoopla and kanopy as well. These two services offer plenty of free foreign and domestic films and TV shows at no charge.
And finally, for Norwegian film and TV enthusiasts, another streaming option is Films of Norway, a subscription service that offers only Norwegian movies, TV series, documentaries, children’s programs, and more. The programs are in original Norwegian language. English subtitles are available. Trial memberships are available. Many programs not available elsewhere can be found at Films of Norway. I’ve included the programming that intrigued me the most in the lists below.
Please note that availability of films and TV shows on these streaming platforms may change at any time.
* Movies/TV series with asterisks are ones I’ve watched and enjoyed.
I make it a point to read a Norwegian book or two every year (and it has to be a book by a Norwegian author, not any book translated into Norwegian, except maybe a Danish or Swedish book). It helps me maintain the language. I speak, read, and write Norwegian fluently, but over time words escape me. Reading a book in Norwegian brings back lost words and adds new ones. Reading a Norwegian book during spring is always good timing in preparation for our upcoming annual trip to Norway.
This spring, I read Jo Nesbø’s Flaggermusmannen (The Bat), the first in the popular Harry Hole detective series. A fellow Norwegian here in LA had spoken highly about the series, and I had read an article about tours given in Oslo featuring Harry Hole locales. I was intrigued.
I easily found a digital version in Norwegian at a Norwegian online bookstore. Yeah for modern technology! But I had to pay more than twice as much as I would have had to pay for a digital Harry Hole book in English, $18 vs $8. Boo expensive Norway! Since reading it in Norwegian was important to me, I splurged. Continue reading →