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.

What I’ve Been Reading Lately (February 2021)

This was a niche reading month for me! All the books were in translation from Scandinavia. They did at least represent a variety of sub-genres — refugee and immigration fiction, folktales and legends, and crime fiction. And very fulfilling for me was that I finally checked off the last prompt for my 2020 Scandinavian Reading Challenge. Now I can focus fully on the 2021 Scandinavian Reading Challenge and other reads.

What have you been reading lately?


Skyggedanseren (The Shadow Dancer) by Sara Omar
(Translated to the Norwegian from the Danish by Inge Ulrik Gundersen)

This is the follow-up to a book I read a year ago, Dødevaskeren (The Dead Washer). This duology is about Frmesk, a Kurdish woman who immigrates to Denmark at a young age, and the abuse and struggles she had to endure as a female in a Muslim community, both in Kurdistan and Denmark. The structure of the two books combined was very unique and interesting. Book #1 alternated between Frmesk’s life as a young child in her grandparents’ household in Kurdistan and her life in Denmark 30 years later when she was alone in a hospital bed for unidentified reasons. Book #2 filled in many blanks in Frmesk’s life. It alternated between the next years with her grandparents in Kurdistan and her young adult years in Denmark when she was a university student and then married a Kurdish man. Frmesk lived a difficult, hard, and painful life. The only shining light for her was her grandparents. Everyone else failed her. It was an extremely tough read with much abuse happening at all ages in her life, but it was eye-opening to see what girls and women in certain parts of the world have to endure even when they emigrate to supposedly more open-minded societies. The story of Frmesk has made a deep impact on me.

Scandinavian Reading Challenge 2020: A book by or about refugees to Scandinavia


By the Fire: Sámi Folktales and Legends, Collected and Illustrated by Emilie Demant Hatt (Translated from the Danish by Barbara Sjoholm)

This is another book that’s been on my radar for a while and that I finally read when an opportunity arose to join a virtual book club meeting to discuss it in honor of Sámi National Day which was February 6. I’m not normally interested in folk tales and legends, but I am intrigued by Sámi history and culture. I did enjoy reading these stories collected by a Danish artist and ethnographer during her travels among the Sámi in the 1920s. This collection of stories with accompanying linoleum prints and “Field Notes and Commentary” by the author as well as an “Afterword” by the translator which featured photos of the storytellers and more background information provided a very unique and enlightening look at Sámi culture.

Scandinavian Reading Challenge 2021:

  • A buddy read or group read (in real life or virtually) of a Nordic book
  • Bonus 1: A prompt from a previous year’s challenge (2020: A book by, about, or involving the Sámi indigenous people)

Smoke Screen (Alexander Blix & Emma Ramm #2) by Jørn Lier Horst and Thomas Enger (Translated from the Norwegian by Megan Turney)

I don’t usually read the next installment in a series this quickly (I read #1, Death Deserved, in November 2020), but I wanted to read #2 in advance of a virtual event with the authors and a favorite bookstagrammer which took place this month. I really enjoyed the first in the series, so it wasn’t hard to pick this one up. Just like in the first book, online news journalist Emma Ramm and police investigator Alexander Blix inadvertently join forces to solve a mystery. In this case, there’s an explosion in Oslo on New Year’s Eve and one of the victims is the mother of a girl who was kidnapped 10 years earlier and never found. What ensues is a dual investigation as the cold case of the kidnapping is reopened and the explosion is investigated. I like smart police procedurals with likeable investigators, and the setting being Oslo is certainly a plus. This was a very engaging read which I may have liked even better than the first one. For those wondering, book #2 can be read without having read #1.

Scandinavian Reading Challenge 2021:

  • An unplanned or impromptu Scandinavian read
  • Bonus 2: A book by a Nordic author you’ve enjoyed before

Pakkis by Khalid Hussain
(Translated from the Norwegian by Claudia Berguson and Ingeborg Kongslien)

This book has been on my radar for many years, and I finally seized the opportunity to read it when I learned that it was the pick for Vesterheim’s monthly reading group in February. Written by the author when he was 16 years old, it’s a short account exploring a slice of life of a teenage Pakistani immigrant and his family in Oslo. It’s based on his own experiences as an immigrant in the 1970s. The book’s character, Sajjad, arrived in Norway at the age of 4 and learned the language easily. His parents, however, had more trouble assimilating. The book tackles the difficulty Sajjad has of navigating his two conflicting identities, that of his family and religion and the other of his assimilated Norwegian identity. It also explores conflicts that arise relating to the father’s expectations and the son’s wishes. Originally published in 1986, it seemed like it could have been written recently. The only things missing were cell phones and social media. It was an interesting look at an immigrant family’s experiences which most likely shares many similarities with immigrant experiences elsewhere and in contemporary times.

Scandinavian Reading Challenge 2021:

  • A Scandinavian book you’ve been meaning to read
  • A buddy read or group read (in real life or virtually) of a Nordic book
  • Bonus 1: A prompt from a previous year’s challenge (2018: An immigrant story)

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. Currently, the first book in the Alexander Blix & Emma Ramm series, Death Deserved, is free!

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 (December 2020) & #ScandiReadingChallenge Update

December and 2020 are a wrap, but I’m still going to need a little time to complete my 2020 Scandinavian Reading Challenge. I still have one category left to check off, a book by or about refugees to Scandinavia (just started Sara Omar’s Skyggedanseren translated from the Danish to the Norwegian). I’m okay with taking January to wrap it up since my reading focus was bit distracted this past year. Then I need to finalize plans for my 2021 Scandinavian Reading Challenge.

What have you been reading lately?


Dark Tides by Philippa Gregory
(Narrated by Louise Brealey)

I’m not one to usually binge read books in a series, but the first book in the Fairmile series, Tidelands, was such a captivating and engaging read that our book club selected the second book to read right away. Dark Tides jumps ahead 20 years from where the first book left off. Family members have scattered around the globe: Alinor and her daughter have made their way to London, Alinor’s brother is in New England, and Alinor’s son has settled in Venice. I really enjoyed these different perspectives and the insight into life in 1670 in those places. I thought the story was a little slow to get going, but once it did, it moved fast and intensively. You are definitely going to have opinions about the characters in this book, good and bad. We’re eagerly awaiting news of the next book in the series. The audiobook was a fantastic listen.

Reading Challenges:


Dregs (William Wisting, #1) by Jørn Lier Horst
(Translated from the Norwegian by Anne Bruce)

Jørn Lier Horst is my favorite Norwegian crime writer. I usually read his books in Norwegian, but this time I thought I’d try one in English. I began by listening to the audiobook, but I was turned off by the narrator’s interpretation of the characters and switched to ebook. What a difference that made. Wisting is a likeable and respectable police investigator who works in a smalltown, coastal community south of Oslo. This crime, like others in the series, requires him to travel around the area to investigate. Horst’s books usually tackle a greater social issue; this one questions whether incarceration is effective. (This is the first Wisting book to be translated into English but actually the sixth book in the series. Wisting, the TV series, is available to view through Amazon Prime Video.)

Reading Challenges:


Kristin Lavransdatter III: The Cross by Sigrid Undset
(Translated from the Norwegian by Tiina Nunnally)

I finally finished the classic Kristin Lavransdatter by Nobel Prize winning author Sigrid Undset, a trilogy I read over three years, one book a year. It’s a surprisingly fascinating account of a woman’s life from childhood to death in medieval Norway. The first book, The Wreath, was definitely my favorite because it was unlike anything I expected from a book written in the early 1900s about Norway in the 1300s. The second, The Wife, was my least favorite due to all the political history I was unfamiliar with and the many characters I had trouble keeping track of. The third book, The Cross, was a very strong finish and I’m glad I committed to completing the series. In this final installment, Kristin returns to her childhood home of the first book with her husband to live out their years. We see how Kristin’s marriage unfolds and how her seven sons grow up and make decisions about their lives. And coincidentally, the Black Death makes an appearance at the end of the book, which was fascinating to read about considering we’re dealing with a pandemic of our own right now.

Reading Challenges:


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. Kristin Lavransdatter, the whole trilogy, just went on sale for $2.99. Dregs by Jørn Lier Horst is currently on sale for $3.99 and his Death Deserved, which I enjoyed last month, is available for $0.99 (as of the publication of this post).

What have you been reading lately?

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 (October & November 2020) & #ScandiReadingChallenge Update

October was a slow reading month so I saved my two reads from that month to share this month. It’s been a very varied period of reading and listening: two children’s books about the Sámi Indigenous peoples of Northern Europe, an LA-based contemporary novel, two historical fiction both coincidentally about a village woman and a man of faith not from the community (luckily different settings, one England in the mid-1600s and the other Norway in 1880), and finally a contemporary crime fiction set in Oslo.

I still have a couple of categories on my Scandinavian Reading Challenge to cross off. Currently, I’m reading a Scandinavian classic, Sigrid Undset’s third book in the Kristin Lavransdatter trilogy. Still to read are a book by or about refugees to Scandinavia (planning Sara Omar’s Skyggedanseren translated from the Danish to the Norwegian) and a Scandinavian book with a film or TV adaptation (haven’t decided yet). Would love to hear about any Scandinavian/Nordic books you’ve read!

What have you been reading lately?


Samer by Sigbjørn Skåden, Illustrated by Ketil Selnes

This is a Norwegian children’s book for ages 9-12 that I discovered when researching Sámi culture and history for a special event I was helping plan at the elementary school where I work. (Special thanks to my mother who helped make it possible for me to read it here in the US!) It’s written by a Sámi author and is even available in the Sámi language. My knowledge of Sámi history was very limited. Reading this book was enlightening and provided a good basis on Sámi history and issues. However, I still have much to learn. Too bad it’s not available in English as it would be a good introduction to Sámi culture and history for English language readers.

Reading Challenges:


Children of the Northlights by Ingri & Edgar Parin d’Aulaire

This was another book I added to my reading list for my school project. It has been on my bookshelf for a long time and was a delight to finally read. First published in 1935, it was written after extensive visits by the authors to the land of the Sámi in the early 1930s. Interestingly, this newer edition published in 2012 includes a note in the beginning noting the authors’ use of the term “Lapp” which is now considered derogatory. The story follows Sámi siblings Lise and Lasse as they go about their daily lives during winter time. I especially enjoyed reading about their relationship with their reindeer and seeing all the pictures featuring Sámi daily life during winter. I question whether Sámi children’s school experience was as pleasant as depicted in the story since the book covers a time period when Sámi were forced to become and learn Norwegian (per an official Norwegianization policy).

Reading Challenges:


The Last Story of Mina Lee by Nancy Jooyoun Kim
(Narrated by Greta Jung)

I was drawn to this book because it was a contemporary immigrant story that takes place in Los Angeles with a family mystery to boot. It’s about Margot who returns to her childhood home in Koreatown only to discover that her mother, Mina Lee, is dead in the apartment. In the process of trying to find out the true cause of death, Margot learns about her mother’s difficult past. There’s a dual timeline: Margot in 2014 when she discovers her dead mother and 1987 when her mother arrived in Los Angeles as an undocumented immigrant from Korea. I started this book as an audiobook but switched to ebook. I felt the narrator did not do justice to the characters. I enjoyed Margot’s and Mina Lee’s stories, and I got a kick out of the setting being here in Los Angeles where the characters visited familiar places, in particular Santa Monica Pier in both timelines, but the narrator’s rendition of the characters grated on me. Finishing the book by reading it made a big difference. I recommend this book but suggest you read it instead of listening to it.

Reading Challenges:


Tidelands (Fairmile #1) by Philippa Gregory
(Narrated by Louise Brealey)

This was a book club pick that I wasn’t overly thrilled to read. I love historical fiction, but England in the 1600s didn’t really interest me as much as other times and places, or at least so I thought. It turned out I loved this book. It was not about royalty as I had assumed it would be. Rather, it was about an ordinary person, Alinor, a poor woman whose husband had left her and their two kids to fend for themselves in a remote village. The story takes places during England’s Civil War in 1648, and religious and political history (Royalists vs. Parliamentarians and Catholicism vs. Protestanism) play a role but not in a way that requires any background knowledge. I got so wrapped up in Alinor’s life and the hardship and judging she had to endure. I admired her strength, perseverance, and independence. The whole book club group enjoyed this book so much that we selected book number two in the series, Dark Tides, for our next read. The audiobook was an excellent listen.

Reading Challenges:


Death Deserved (Alexander Blix & Emma Ramm #1) by Jørn Lier Horst and Thomas Enger
(Translated from the Norwegian by Anne Bruce)

Jørn Lier Horst is a favorite Norwegian crime fiction author with his William Wisting series, but Thomas Enger is new to me. Their joint project intrigued me. I always enjoy returning to my native Oslo through books, and this story really took advantage of Oslo and the surrounding areas as the setting. The main characters, veteran police office Alexander Blix and celebrity blogger Emma Ramm, were smart and likeable, and the plot was very engaging with a satisfying end. I look forward to the next installment in the series, Smoke Screen, coming out later this month.

Reading Challenges:


The Bell in the Lake by Lars Mytting
(Translated from the Norwegian by Deborah Dawkin)

I loved Lars Mytting’s The Sixteen Trees of the Somme so The Bell in the Lake, the first book in his new trilogy, was high on my TBR list. When it was released in English during the pandemic, I had the chance to listen in on a  virtual chat between the author and translator and became even more enthusiastic about it.

The story takes place in the 1880s in the valley of Gudbrandsdalen in central Norway (also the setting of Sigrid Undset’s Kristin Lavransdatter). It’s about a young village woman who is torn between two outsiders in the community, the new priest who’s selling the village’s stave church to Germany and the German artist/architect who’s come to draw the church so it can be resurrected properly once it arrives in Germany.

I had mixed feelings about the book, much of it having to do with wanting and expecting to love it. I did love the setting and the historical aspect of the story. Getting a glimpse of life in Norway in the 1880s was intriguing, and stave churches have always interested me. Mytting’s descriptive writing really enhanced those aspects. However, I had trouble getting into the story itself. It was a little slow to get going, and at times the dialogue was a bit cumbersome. The dialogue was written in an old Norwegian dialect and it was also translated into an old English dialect. Another issue I had was not totally understanding the chemistry between the characters. Despite this, however, I am very eager to read the second book in the series, Hekneveven. It jumps ahead to the early 1900s and continues the legacy of the stave church, its bells, and descendants of the first book. It came out in Norway in October 2020 to great acclaim. The English translation’s release date is TBD.

Reading Challenges:


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 day or so. If anything looks intriguing, grab it before it’s gone. My most recent read, Death Deserved, and many other recent books I’ve enjoyed are currently on sale for $0.99 (as of the publication of this post).

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 (September 2020)

My unintentional travel around the world via books continued in September with visits to China, Norway, and Rwanda, along with seven neighboring African countries.

My reading also continued to be influenced by the opportunity to hear authors talk about their work. The Seven Doors written by Agnes Ravatn and translated from the Norwegian by Rosie Hedger jumped to the top of my TBR pile when I learned that Orenda Books, the English publisher, was hosting an online launch event with the author and translator (paperback was published September 17, 2020, in the United Kingdom). I had enjoyed Ravatn’s previous English release, The Bird Tribunal, and was curious about this one. It’s always interesting to get some insight into the behind-the-scenes of the writing and translating processes, and their discussion did not disappoint. (Are you curious about other virtual bookish events, in particular related to Nordic authors? Check out my Virtual Nordic Events for October 2020.)

Here are my latest book experiences. What have you been reading lately?


The Girl Who Smiled Beads: A Story of War and What Comes After by Clemantine Wamariya and Elizabeth Weil

This book first came on my radar when I saw it was a Book of the Month selection in April 2018. I didn’t pick it then, but I did buy it earlier this year when I had some ebook credit. It hadn’t occurred to me that it would be appropriate for a 13-year-old so it became a must-read for me this summer when it turned up as my 8th grader’s required reading for school.

Clemantine is an inspiring woman. She endured tremendous loss and hardship when, at the age of 6, she and her 15-year-old sister Claire fled from their family in Rwanda in 1994 due to civil war and the impending genocide. They spent 6 years traveling between 7 African countries trying to find safety and meet their basic needs — and later the needs of Claire’s young children. At age 12, Clemantine and her sister were granted asylum in the United States and began new lives in Chicago. The story of the two sisters is heartbreaking and eye-opening and important to be heard. However, it was told in a vacuum. There was little context provided about what was going on in the country they left and the countries in which they sought refuge. I found the first half of the book the most interesting. It alternated between Clemantine and Claire’s experiences in Africa and their new lives in Chicago. The second half when Claire was at college and beyond was less engaging. Even though the book felt a bit disjointed, I appreciated how it opened my eyes to a world event I knew little about. Now on my radar is the movie Hotel Rwanda.

Reading Challenges:


The Three-Body Problem by Cixin Liu
(Translated from the Chinese by Ken Liu, narrated by Luke Daniels)

This award-winning science fiction novel by “China’s most beloved science fiction author” was certainly an interesting listening experience. It was totally outside my comfort zone (not just science fiction, but also alien encounter book!) and way above my head (a lot of complicated science that I didn’t understand), yet the plot and structure were engaging and intriguing enough to carry me along so that I finished the book. It was a complex and sophisticated book with many layers and made for a good book club discussion. This book is the first in a trilogy, and Netflix recently bought the rights to the trilogy for an adaptation into a series. I’m not up for the rest of the trilogy, but I may give the Netflix adaptation a try due to curiosity.

Reading Challenges:


The Seven Doors by Agnes Ravatn
(Translated from the Norwegian by Rosie Hedger)

This was a very enjoyable, slow-burning psychological thriller that takes place in contemporary Bergen on the west coast of Norway over the course of about a month and a half during winter. Nina, a middle aged university literature professor, is in a bit of a mid-life crisis. She questions the importance of her profession, is going through a forced sale of her home, and has a somewhat strained relationship with her adult daughter. In the middle of all this, the tenant of one of their properties suddenly goes missing. When the police hit a dead end, Nina takes on investigating the mystery herself due to a sense of guilt that a recent visit by her and her daughter had something to do with the disappearance. I enjoyed the setting, in particular the visits to a small nearby island, and I was intrigued by the mystery and slow reveal of details surrounding the missing tenant. The tension grew as the story progressed and even though I had an inkling about the perpetrator as the end neared, the ending itself caught me off-guard but in a satisfying way.

Reading Challenges:


What have you been reading lately?

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 2020

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.

I hope you find something of interest for October. Among other things, I’m looking forward to the October Family Norwegian Language Adventure – Friluftsliv with Vesterheim, The National Norwegian-American Museum & Heritage Center‘s Folk Art School in Decorah, Iowa. I signed up during the registration period in September and received my “special adventure kit” in the mail the other day and am eagerly awaiting October 1 to open it (per the instructions). In it we’ll find language activities, reference sheets, a hands-on craft activity, snack (!), and directions for using the Goosechase app.

Don’t forget that October 4 is Kanelbullens dag or Cinnamon Bun Day. Seize this opportunity to make your own cinnamon buns! I can recommend Daytona Strong’s Scandinavian Cinnamon Buns.

I would love to hear about any events or activities you attend in October!


Ongoing Events

The Painter and the Thief at BFI London Film Festival (Starting October 8)

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.

Virtual Cinema: Out Stealing Horses (Norway)

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.

Virtual Cinema: A White, White Day (Iceland)

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.

Baldishol: A Medieval Norwegian Tapestry Inspires Contemporary Textiles
(Virtual Exhibit at Norway House, Minneapolis, MN)

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.


Date-Specific Events

Virtual Nordic Stories (for Kids): The Fat Cat (October 1, 10:00 a.m. PST)

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.

Virtual Book Talk: The Bell in the Lake with Lars Mytting (October 1, 6:00 p.m. ET)

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: Virtual Fall Folk Festival (October 2-4)

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.

Leif Eriksson International Festival (October 2-11)

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.

Scandinavian Crisp Bread Baking Workshop (October 3, 11:00 a.m. PST)

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.

Virtual Documentary Screening: We Carry It Within Us (October 4-18)

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.

Virtual Nordic Art Crash Course: Discovering Artists Emil and Dines Carlsen (October 4, 2:00 p.m. PST)

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.

Virtual Panel: Icelandic Authors You Should Know (October 6, 2:00 p.m. ET)

“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.

Virtual Cinema: The Blinding Sea (October 9 – November 5)

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.

Leif Erikson Day with Scandinavian American Cultural & Historical Foundation (SACHF) and Norseman Lodge, Sons of Norway (October 9, 7:00 p.m. PT)

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.

Kransekake Class with Norway House in Minneapolis, MN (October 10, 10:00 a.m. & 1:00 p.m. CT)

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.

Virtual Panel: Finnish Authors You Should Know (October 13, 2:00 p.m. ET)

“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.

Virtual Film Talk: The Blinding Sea with Director George Tombs (October 13, 7:00 p.m. ET)

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.

IWR An Introduction to Icelandic Authors (October 14, 9:00 a.m. PDT)

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.

Meet the Author—A Nordic Book Series: The Man Who Played with Fire (October 18, 12:00 p.m. PST)

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.

Virtual Panel: Faroese Authors You Should Know (October 20, 2:00 p.m. ET)

“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.

Vesterheim Bokprat (Book Group): Jo Nesbø’s The Redbreast (October 21, 7:00-8:15 p.m. CDT)

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.

Virtual Crafts & Cocktails (October 22, 6:00 p.m. PST)

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.

Virtual Panel — Norwegian Authors You Should Know (October 27, 2:00 p.m. ET)

“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.

What I’ve Been Reading Lately (August 2020) & #WITMonth

August Was Women in Translation Month!

I spent much of July planning my stack for August’s Women in Translation Month, a yearly monthlong initiative to promote women writers from around the world who write in languages other than English. Since I tend to read many Scandinavian female authors throughout the year, I usually focus on female writers from other parts of the world for this event. Originally, my TBR pile for August included Chilean, Mauritian-French, Franco-Moroccan, Thai, and Japanese authors. However, my reading took unexpected turns when special author experiences presented themselves, so it wasn’t just female authors from far away lands this month as planned.

Here are my latest reads and listens. What have you been reading lately?


The Mothers by Brit Bennett

I had been meaning to read this for a long time. It was my Book of the Month selection in October 2016! After reading author Nic Stone’s article, “Don’t Just Read About Racism—Read Stories About Black People Living,” in Cosmopolitan (June 2020), I decided there was no time like the present to read it and I convinced my book club to join me. Also, I wanted to join LA Times’ Book Club with Brit Bennett on August 25 which added an extra incentive to read it sooner rather than later. It didn’t disappoint. The story takes place in a contemporary, tight-knit Black community in Oceanside, California, and is about a decision that 17-year-old Nadia makes in her senior year of high school before she heads off to college. It’s about how that decision affects her and those around her in the years to come. We follow not only Nadia as she becomes an adult, but also her high school boyfriend and best friend. The title is spot on. The book features mothers of all kinds – missing mothers, present mothers, stand-in mothers, wannabe mothers, and a Greek chorus of mothers, the last of which I thought added an interesting layer to the story.

Reading Challenges:


Valentine by Elizabeth Wetmore
(Narrated by  Cassandra Campbell, Jenna Lamia)

This was another unread BOTM pick that jumped to the top of TBR pile in August when I learned that I would have the opportunity to hear the author participate in a virtual event (Creating Conversations with Literary Women). I read and listened to this one – both were excellent experiences. The story takes place in West Texas oil field country in the mid-1970s. It explores the aftermath of a brutal attack on a 14-year-old Mexican-American girl by a white boy through the perspectives of seven women in the community. The women range in age from 10 to 70s and have such unique and engaging personalities. It explores inner conflict as well as outer conflict in regards to the crime committed and how it’s handled by the community. It features women’s courage and strength. I highly recommend this book. This was a 5-star book for me.

Reading Challenges:


The Remainder by Alia Trabucco Zerán
(Translated from the Spanish by Sophie Hughes)

This was my first read for Women in Translation Month. It appeared on my radar last year at this time when it was released in English (originally published in Chile in 2014). I’ve been wanting to read more literature from South America so I thought this would be a good choice. Unfortunately, this book was not for me. I did appreciate getting a glimpse of Chile’s history, in this case Pinochet’s dictatorship and its legacy, but that was about it. The story of the three childhood friends who go on a road trip to retrieve the body of one friend’s mother who was being repatriated to Chile but ended up in the neighboring country instead due to volcanic ash disrupting air traffic in Santiago was uninteresting. It didn’t help that half the story was told through one character’s stream of consciousness that made little sense. I am in the minority regarding my opinion of this book, though, because it was shortlisted for the 2019 Man Booker International Prize.

Reading Challenges:


The Perfect Nanny by Leïla Slimani
(Translated from the French by Sam Taylor)

This was another book for Women in Translation Month that’s been on my radar for a while, and unfortunately, it did not live up to my expectations either. It’s a murder mystery that starts with the ending. We know the “who” and “how” right from the beginning (and it’s horrible) but not the “why” so the author takes us back in time to get to know the family and the nanny. Why did this supposed perfect nanny kill the two young children? It’s billed as a psychological thriller. I was engaged and enjoyed the development of the story, but the ending was unsatisfying and disappointing.

Reading Challenges:


Alt er mitt by Ruth Lillegraven
(Written in Norwegian but to be released in English in March 2021 as Everything Is Mine translated by Diane Oatley)

I had not done my research on this book, and I’m glad I hadn’t. If I had, I may not have read it and missed out on a fun reading experience. It turned out that half the book was written in New Norwegian, and historically I have avoided such books and read them in translation later. This book is about a couple, Clara and Haavard, who seem to have a perfect marriage. The story is told in alternating perspectives mostly from them. Clara is from Western Norway and speaks New Norwegian, and Haavard is from Oslo and speaks standard Norwegian. Luckily, their two different “languages” wasn’t a problem for me and I thought it a clever way to add a distinction between the characters. When I read it, I also did not know it was the first in a planned trilogy. Initially, I was very disappointed in the ending, but then I listened in on an Instagram event with the author and learned of the planned trilogy. I immediately changed my opinion of the book, and I’m eagerly awaiting the next installment. English readers, look out for the release of the English translation next year!

Reading Challenges:


Tropic of Violence by Nathacha Appanah
(Translated from the French by Geoffrey Strachen)

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 Women in Translation Month.

Reading Challenges:


Before I leave you, I want to make sure readers interested in Nordic literature (Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Iceland, and Finland) are aware of the many virtual bookish events, such as author talks, panel discussions, and book club meetings, now available to a wider audience. See my post Virtual Scandinavian Events for Fall 2020 for details!

What have you been reading lately? Did you read any women in translation in August?

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 Scandinavian Events for September 2020

One silver lining of the pandemic is that organizations are pivoting to online events allowing interested folk from all over to attend. I have certainly taken advantage of that in the past few months and look forward to continuing.

Here are some Scandinavian virtual events and entertainment (plus some Icelandic and Finnish) that have popped up on my radar for the fall. I will continue to add events as I learn of them.

If you are interested in Nordic literature or Scandinavian TV and film, scroll to the end for information on a Nordic Book Club now available online and Scandinavian shows recently added to Netflix.


Virtual Cinema: Out Stealing Horses (Norway) – Ongoing

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 Facebook event page. An end date has not yet been set for film screenings.

Virtual Cinema: A White, White Day (Iceland) – Ongoing

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 Facebook event page. An end date has not yet been set for film screenings.

October Family Norwegian Language Adventure – Friluftsliv
(With Vesterheim Folk Art School, Decorah, Iowa)

Join this adventure anytime between September 12 and September 21. The adventure starts October 1 and will focus on friluftsliv, the Norwegian concept of embracing outdoor living. “Join us for this family-fun outdoor adventure and learn some Norwegian language along the way! Your “family” could be any combination of adult or adults and child or children, all who are ready to have fun and learn some norsk are welcome! Through hands-on activities, fun crafts, light hearted games and short videos, you and your family will learn and practice your new Norwegian skills both indoors and outside. A kit will be delivered right to your home containing supplies for these language activities, a helpful reference sheet for all the new words and expressions you will be learning, a fun craft, and a yummy snack.” These activities are designed for families with children ages 5-15. Click here for more information and to sign up.

Baldishol: A Medieval Norwegian Tapestry Inspires Contemporary Textiles
(Virtual Exhibit at Norway House, Minneapolis, MN)

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.

Virtual Book Talk: The Family Clause by Jonas Hassen Khemiri (September 9)

This online event is hosted by ASF (American-Scandinavian Foundation) and Scandinavia House in New York, NY. “Jonas Hassen Khemiri, the acclaimed author of Montecore, joins us for a Virtual Talk to discuss The Family Clause, a novel about a family on the verge of collapse, which will be released in English translation beginning on August 25.” For more information and to register, visit Scandinavia House’s event page.

Virtual Nordic Cooking with Morten Sohlberg: Zucchini & Squash (September 10)

This online event is hosted by ASF (American-Scandinavian Foundation) and Scandinavia House in New York, NY. “Join us for a special Nordic virtual cooking event! Morten Sohlberg, the chef and owner of Smörgås Chef restaurant at Scandinavia House, will present an online demo of making one of his favorite late summer dishes — roasted zucchini and squash coated with ricotta, parmesan, and various herbs and spices.” This event will take place as a YouTube Premiere on Thursday, September 10, at 6 p.m. ET at the link: https://bit.ly/2GeVGvv.

ABBA Salute Concert Online! (September 13, 2:00 p.m. PT)

“ABBA Salute is quite literally the most accurate tribute band on the planet. With painstaking attention to detail, they’ve recreated an ABBA experience that comes to life in a Las Vegas style show. Join the Swedish American Museum in Chicago and Vasa Park for a special online concert that is free but we do appreciate donations to help us through this time.” For more information and to get the link for the event, click here.

Dual Citizenship Webinar (September 15, 12:00 p.m. CT)

Join Norwegian Honorary Consulate General, Minneapolis for a free webinar to learn about Norway’s new dual citizenship law and how it may affect you. Topics include reinstatement of former Norwegian citizenship, how to apply for US citizenship, and more. The presentation will conclude with a Q & A session. Questions must be submitted in advance. For more information and to register, click here.

Equity, Inclusion, and Immigration in the Nordic Countries (September 15)

This online event is hosted by ASF (American-Scandinavian Foundation) and Scandinavia House in New York, NY. “Nordic countries are often seen as models of equity, equality, and social justice. But what are the ways that the Nordic countries are approaching the inequalities that they still face? In this virtual panel, four distinguished guests — Swedish hip-hop artist Jason “Timbuktu” Diakité, Swedish author Jonas Hassen Khemiri, Danish author Simon Pasternak, and Swedish-Ethiopian chef and restaurateur Marcus Samuelsson — will join us for a discussion on recent cultural contributions and voices who continue to discuss inequality both in the Nordic countries and the U.S.”

Vista Viking Festival Online (September 19 & 20)

This year, experience Vista Viking Festival Online. “We are living in a new age, and we are not able to gather this year. So we are expanding our virtual territories beyond the festival gates. Bringing our family closer to yours. Set sail with us online, September 19 & 20, 2020.”

Sweden’s Response to the Coronavirus with Lars Trägårdh (September 23)

American-Scandinavian Foundation invites you to a follow-up online discussion with Swedish historian, author and social commentator Lars Trägårdh as he discusses the current situation in Sweden in controlling the coronavirus. Sweden adopted a controversial approach to the pandemic, avoiding mandatory lock-down and instead stressing voluntary distancing and keeping the country open, most importantly pre- and primary schools. Initially Sweden experienced higher numbers of infection and death rate than many of their Nordic counterparts; since June, however, both infection and mortality rates are radically down. Hear how this strategy has evolved in Sweden as Europe at large is experiencing, or bracing for, a second wave.

Launch Event for Agnes Ravatn’s The Seven Doors (September 23, 7:00 p.m. UK)

“To celebrate the launch of Agnes Ravatn’s exquisitely written psychological thriller The Seven Doors, Orenda Books is delighted to present Tartan Noir author Michael J. Malone interviewing critically acclaimed Norwegian author Agnes Ravatn and her translator, Rosie Hedger.” The event is free and will take place on Zoom, For more information and how to get the link, visit Orenda Books’ event page.

Vesterheim Bokprat (Book Group) to Discuss The Nordic Theory of Everything (September 24, 7:00 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 on Thursday, September 24, at 7:00 p.m. CDT to discuss Finnish journalist Anu Partanen’s The Nordic Theory of Everything. Read more about the event and register here.

Virtual Panel — Danish Authors You Should Know (September 29, 2:00 p.m. ET)

Scandinavia House’s new series Nordic Authors You Should Know begins with a focus on Danish literature with Shadi Angelina Bazeghi, Jonas Eika, Maja Lee Langvad, Dorthe Nors, and Ursula Andkjær Olsen, moderated by author and translator Katrine Øgaard Jensen. For more information, visit Scandinavia House’s page.

Policing & Police Reform in the Nordic Countries: Virtual Panel (September 30, 1:00 p.m. ET)

This virtual panel is hosted by ASF + Scandinavia House. “In contrast to the United States, the Nordic countries have their own unique approaches to law enforcement that have evolved out of histories with different racial and economic politics. As calls for police reform continue to be debated at every level of government in the U.S., three panelists from the Nordic countries join us to discuss policing and police reform in those countries: Lars Holmberg (Professor of Law, JUR Centre for Interdisciplinary Studies of Law, University of Copenhagen), Kimmo Himberg (Senior Researcher, the Police University College, Tampere, Finland), and Margrét Valdimarsdóttir (Assistant Professor of Police Science at the University of Akureyri).”

Politics & Prose Live! Vigdis Hjorth | Long Live the Post Horn! with Sheila Heti (September 30, 4:00 p.m. ET)

Hosted by Politics and Prose Bookstore in Washington, D.C., this event is presented in partnership with the Royal Norwegian Embassy. Norwegian author Vigdis Hjorth sits down with fellow author Sheila Heti to discuss her new novel, Long Live the Post Horn! For more information and to register for this free event, click here.


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.

  • September 8: The Summer House by Philip Teir (translated from the Swedish by Tiina Nunnally)
  • September 22: Miss Iceland by Auður Ava Ólafsdóttir (translated from the Icelandic by Brian FitzGibbon)
  • 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)

Borderless Book Club 

In response to the Covid-19 crisis and the lockdown order, Peirene Press, in collaboration with several other small presses, created the Borderless Book Club. Meetings are held on Thursday evenings at 8:00 p.m. UK time via Zoom. Participation is free. They exclusively discuss translated literature. For more information and to view the current fall program and to access previous meetings (which includes books by Scandinavian authors), visit Borderless Book Club.


New to Netflix: Scandinavian Movies & TV Shows

Borgen (Seasons 1-3) – A Danish political thriller, available in your preferred audio language. Netflix description: As Denmark prepares for parliamentary elections, Moderate Party leader Birgitte Nyborg makes a shocking move with surprising results.

Rita (2020, Season 5 Available) – A Danish comedy in Danish with English subtitles. Netflix description: Independent, outspoken and adored by her students, schoolteacher Rita fares less well with adults in this comedy-drama from Denmark.

Young Wallander (New, Season 1) – A Netflix original series in English based on the Swedish and British series Wallander. Netflix description: An incendiary hate crime stirs civil unrest, fast-tracking rookie cop Kurt Wallander to detective in this origin story for the popular character.

For more Scandinavian films and TV shows:


I hope you found something of interest for the months ahead. Feel free to reach out to me if you have events to share.

What I’ve Been Reading Lately (July 2020) & #WITMonth Plans

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. My reading rhythm hasn’t changed much since last month. I continue to enjoy listening on my early morning walks and reading while lounging outside in the late afternoon/early evening. I’ll continue this as long as I can.

A highlight of my reading life this past month was an in-person book club meeting! Our book club last met in person in February. Since then we’ve been meeting via Zoom. In July, we got together for a physically distant picnic so we could say goodbye in person to a member moving east this month. It was a lovely day in the park, not only being social in real life but also seeing so many people enjoying the park as well. Reminded me a little of park culture I’ve seen in Europe.

August Is Women in Translation Month!

I spent much of July planning my stack for August’s Women in Translation Month, a monthlong initiative to promote women writers from around the world who write in languages other than English. Since I tend to read many Scandinavian female authors throughout the year, I usually focus on female writers from other parts of the world for this event. On my TBR pile for August are Chilean, Mauritian-French, Franco-Moroccan, Thai, and Japanese authors. We’ll see how many I manage to read in August. My effort and interest will likely extend beyond August.

Here are my latest reads and listens. How has your reading life been lately? Will you be reading any women in translation in August?


Hjemlandet og andre fortellinger (The Homeland and Other Stories)(In Norwegian, Edited by HRH Crown Princess Mette-Marit and Geir Gulliksen)

This anthology attempts to answer the question “What does it mean to be Norwegian today?”. The editors (I love that one of them is the crown princess of Norway; I’ve always admired her love of books and reading and her dedication to promoting Norwegian authors) asked 12 authors to contribute texts answering that question. What resulted is a collection of essays, short stories, and a poem by contemporary Norwegian authors, some of whom I’m already familiar with and others who are new to me. While I definitely enjoyed this as a collection of works, I did not feel it really answered the core question. I would have liked it to include more underrepresented voices, like immigrant and Sámi perspectives, to really provide a more complete picture of what it means to be Norwegian today. But I did enjoy the opportunity to “return” to my homeland while stuck in the US during the pandemic and it gave me the opportunity to discover new authors, which I appreciate, and read New Norwegian, which wasn’t as daunting as I thought it might be.

Reading Challenges:


The Dutch House by Ann Patchett
(Narrated by Tom Hanks)

This was a 5-star read for me – and especially enjoyable since I read it with my sister on the East Coast. I loved the characters, the story, the structure, and the writing. The Dutch House is the house in which siblings Danny and Maeve grow up until both, one after the other, are forced out by their new step-mother. The story spans decades and it’s interesting to see how their lives evolve and how the Dutch House keeps pulling them back. I alternated between reading and listening. The audiobook is a real treat with Tom Hanks narrating it. He even says the titles, just numbered, with the perfect emotion.

Reading Challenges:


So you want to talk about race by Ijeoma Oluo
(Narrated by Bahni Turpin)

This was the perfect book to start my antiracist reading journey. The author introduces and explains terms and concepts that are mentioned and discussed frequently these days and that you may feel you should know and understand but don’t really or have questions about. I started with the audiobook (currently always available at Los Angeles Public Library and available for free at hoopla) but then decided to get the physical book also so I could reread and underline and highlight as needed. There was too much good stuff that was just going in one ear and out the other. I needed to digest it more which I do when I read with me eyes. I will be returning to chapters about concepts that still aren’t crystal clear to me, but it was such a good starting point. I highly recommend it.

Reading Challenges:


The Proposal by Jasmine Guillory

Another book in my antiracist reading journey, this one about “Black people living” (per Nic Stone’s article in Cosmopolitan stating that “[T]he more we see Black people living—loving and doing and being and feeling and going on adventures and solving mysteries and being the heroes—the more we come to recognize our shared humanity.”) I wonder if I might have enjoyed this book more if I were 20 years younger? I liked the setting. It takes place in Los Angeles, specifically East LA. Areas and places are mentioned that I’m familiar with. I liked the girlfriend group. I appreciated the diverse cast of characters in the book. The love story, however, was not my cup of tea. The boyfriend was way too perfect. He’s a pediatrician, and he’s caring, kind, and thoughtful all the time. He even shops at an independent bookstore when in need of a gift for a bedridden pregnant cousin. That, and the interior dialogue, wasn’t right for me.

Reading Challenges:


What have you been reading lately? Will you be reading any women in translation in August?

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What I’ve Been Reading Lately & My Latest Virtual Book Events (May 2020)

Now that month #3 of staying at home has passed and summertime with its more relaxed schedules is here, I think I’ve finally fallen into a more regular reading rhythm. Two of my favorite times of the day now are when I can sit outside and read during lunchtime and in the early evening.

I continued to attend virtual book events this past month. I thoroughly enjoyed the LA Times’ Book Club conversation with Emily St. John Mandel on May 19. More significantly, I got to “travel” to Norway last month for the Norwegian Festival of Literature in Lillehammer which took place May 29-31. In particular, I enjoyed the panel discussion on Maja Lunde’s success around the world and her lecture as winner of this year’s Bjørnson Prize.

Through my reading this month, I’ve traveled the world in time and place. I’ve experienced 1918 Philadelphia during the Spanish flu pandemic, an Indian immigrant community in London, a small Danish coastal town, and Norway in 2017/France in 2041. Here are my latest reads and listens. What have you been reading lately?


As Bright as Heaven by Susan Meissner

I loved this book. It provided a look at life in Philadelphia during the 1918 Spanish flu pandemic. It’s about a mother and father and their three young daughters who moved to Philadelphia to take advantage of the opportunity for the father to work with his uncle and eventually take over the uncle’s mortuary. Not too long after their arrival, the pandemic hits. In alternating perspectives of the mother and three daughters, readers follow this family through the pandemic – and World War I which is happening in the background – and beyond. It was fascinating to see the similarities and differences to our own current experience. It’s not an easy time for them, but it’s not all misery either. I highly recommend it.

Reading Challenges:


Erotic Stories for Punjabi Widows by Balli Kaur Jaswal
(Audiobook narrated by Meera Syal)

In many ways, this book was what I expected, but in a couple of significant ways, it was not. And it was the combination of the expected and the unexpected that made me enjoy the book even more. I knew it was going to be an East-meets-West kind of book. Nikki, the Westernized daughter of Punjabi immigrants in London (and a law school drop-out who doesn’t really know what to do with her life), decides to take on teaching a writing class to traditional Punjabi widows at a Sikh community center. It turns out to be not your typical writing class in any sense. The women, many of whom are illiterate, begin sharing erotic stories which are transcribed by a fellow student. This “writing class” takes on a life of its own, and over time, Nikki becomes aware of secrets and mysteries within the Punjabi community. It’s a glimpse into an immigrant experience and culture and religion that I know little about. The characters are fun, the writing engaging, and the story fulfilling. In addition, there was such unexpected depth and substance to this novel which made it a wonderful reading experience.

Reading Challenges:


The Murder of Halland by Pia Juul
(Translated from the Danish by Martin Aitken)

I knew this wasn’t going to be a typical Nordic noir or murder mystery book, but I’m not sure what it ended up being for me. It begins with a murder and there is mystery surrounding the murder, but that’s not the main point of the book. It’s about the murder victim’s common law wife and how she deals with his death. She does not seem to mourn her husband as you’d expect nor does she seem interested in helping the police solve the crime. It’s more about her place in her community and her relationship with family members. She mourns her daughter’s decade-long absence from her life more than her partner’s death. She discovers secrets in her husband’s life. There’s no clear resolution to the murder mystery, but lots to wonder about. It’s certainly an interesting character study.

Reading Challenges:


The End of the Ocean by Maja Lunde (The Climate Quartet #2)
(Translated from the Norwegian by Diane Oatley)

Book #2 in Maja Lunde’s Climate Quartet tackles the climate concern of water and the threat of worldwide drought. The story jumps back and forth between two storylines which eventually intersect: 70-year old Signe in 2017 in Norway and David and his young daughter Lou in 2041 in France. Signe is a climate activist who lives on her sailboat (named Blue, hence the Norwegian title Blå). A visit back to her childhood village deep in a Norwegian fjord sets in motion an ocean journey to find the man who used to be the love of her life. David and Lou had to flee from their home in southern France due to drought and fire and are struggling to survive in a refugee camp. Besides it being a book about humans’ connection and reliance on water, it is also about human relationships, in particular father-daughter relationships. I’m always intrigued by unique structures like the one in this book, and the human element added to my enjoyment of it. I really enjoyed the book, but I did prefer the first one, The History of Bees, with its focus on our relationship with bees in the past, present, and future (read more here). I’m looking forward to book #3, Przewalski’s Horse. The Norwegian edition, published September 2019, is already on my shelf.

Reading Challenges:


What have you been reading lately?

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