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Author talk with Stina Jackson, Hans Rosenfeldt and Kattis Ahlström. Photo: Karina Ljungdahl

Author talks in five languages

In line with our work promoting literature in translation we are collaborating with the Gothenburg Book Fair and the Swedish Institute by making available 15 conversations with Swedish authors in five different languages.

The talks were recorded in connection with the digital book fair at the end of September 2020. Swedish Literature Exchange are paying for translation and subtitling into Arabic, English, German and French, and the Embassy of Sweden in Mexico are funding translations into Spanish.

All conversations (English subtitles) – stream from Book Fair Play
All conversations (Arabic subtitles) – stream from Book Fair Play
All conversations (French subtitles) – stream from Book Fair Play
All conversations (German subtitles) – stream from Book Fair Play
All conversations (Spanish subtitles) – stream from Book Fair Play

The selected author talks

Ugly Girls

Someone at a high school in the small Swedish town of Gnesta starts up an Instagram account with the handle Ugly Girls. Popular and less popular girls alike have their photos posted, and a fear of standing out and becoming the next victim spreads through the school like wildfire. Tilde, Eleni and Jasmine are all in the same class but have barely spoken to each other – until fate, and their determination to uncover who is behind the account, brings them together. ‘Ugly Girls’ is the first book to emerge from a partnership between the YA authors Lisa Bjärbo, Johanna Lindbäck and Sara Ohlsson. A conversation about feminism, social media and writing together.
Presenter: Jenny Aschenbrenner, journalist
Organised by: Gilla Böcker and Lilla Piratförlaget

Books in the Grip of Horror

In his new novel ‘Nidamörkur’, Peter Fröberg Idling has united the stylistic heights of the literary novel with the capacity of the horror story to examine human and inhuman dark sides. Jack Werner has explored the ghost stories of our time in both a book and a podcast series, and this year saw the release of a revised new edition of his horror anthology ‘Creepypasta: Ghost Stories from the Internet’. Mats Strandberg and Jenny Jägerfeld ponder whether we can glimpse ourselves through the monsters of horror fiction: their novel ‘Monsters in Therapy’ takes its point of departure from a missing psychologist’s files on their therapy sessions.
Presenter: Johanna Koljonen, journalist
Organised by: B. Wahlströms, Natur & Kultur and Norstedts


Epic Storytellers

Majgull Axelsson’s new novel, ‘Cancelled Trip to Sabarmati’, is about the search for identity and the self-doubt of parenthood. It deals with a mother who is not a mother and a daughter who is not a daughter. It also grapples with secrets, break ups and hostility towards strangers. Klas Östergren’s ‘Gentlemen’ published in 1980 became a modern Swedish classic, and the sequel, ‘Gangsters’, was released in 2005. The trilogy is now being brought to a close with ‘Renegades’, in which the first person narrator once again encounters the eccentric Henry Morgan, who is on a personal odyssey through Europe from Vienna north to Lapland to meet his son. Presenter: Karin Petterson, Cultural Editor for Aftonbladet
Organised by: Norstedts and Polaris


Selma Lagerlöf – Timelessly Relevant

The first woman to receive the Nobel Prize in Literature, the first woman to be elected to the Swedish Academy, teacher and author of the textbook ‘Nils Holgersson’s Wonderful Journey Through Sweden’, written on commission for the National Teachers’ Association. One of Sweden’s best known writers globally. Speakers: Anna Nordlund, author; Anna-Karin Palm, author; Mats Malm, Permanent Secretary of the Swedish Academy and Director of the Swedish Literature Bank; Eva-Lis Sirén, the Teachers’ Foundation.
Presenter: Gunilla Kindstrand, journalist
Organised by: Läsrörelsen (the Reading Movement) in partnership with the Swedish Academy, the Swedish Literature Bank, the Teachers’ Foundation and the Mårbacka Foundation


Genetic Engineering, Ethics and Intelligence

Maria Gunther has a doctorate in particle physics and is a scientific journalist. In her book ‘Smart’, she examines how we look at intelligence and she gets to grips with the toxic issues linked with the subject: race, human dignity, sex, inheritance and environment. In her book ‘The Unnatural Selection of Our Species’, science writer Torill Kornfeldt discusses the consequences of progress in genetic engineering and what is waiting for us around the corner. Digital development specialist Sara Öhrvall’s book ‘Your Future Self’ is about the way that new technology is being integrated into our brains, bodies and behaviour. A conversation at the intersection between ethics, intelligence and genetic engineering.
Presenter: Lars Mogensen, journalist
Organised by: Albert Bonniers Förlag, Natur & Kultur and Volante


Proximity and Distance

Three brothers travel across the country back to the smallholding that none of them have visited for twenty years to scatter their mother’s ashes. Two of them are bloodied. Alex Schulman’s ‘The Survivors’ is about re-experiencing your childhood as an adult. Jacob’s brother returns to Gothenburg from Israel, and before long the already-stretched family begins to show signs of strain. Stephan Mendel-Enk’s ‘The Monkey in the Middle’ is a freestanding continuation of his previous book ‘Three Monkeys’. ‘Tritonus’ is Kjell Westö’s modern take on an archipelago story about music and community, success and loneliness, and about what happens when an escape into anonymity is impossible.
Presenter: Daniel Sjölin, author
Organised by: Albert Bonniers Förlag, Förlaget and Norstedts


One Life – Three Analyses

Philosopher Martin Hägglund’s book ‘This Life’ has taken the world by storm with its debate around issues of society. Based on the idea that even atheists possess and require a (secular) faith, he develops thoughts on humankind’s need for a more equal society. However, modern physics is also able to provide explanations for our innermost experiences, which is something that Ulf Danielsson, Professor of Theoretical Physics, explores in his book ‘The World Itself’. He argues that there is a difference between models and reality – the universe is not mathematics. Together with the cultural editor from Aftonbladet, Karin Pettersson, Danielsson and Hägglund will be in conversation about what exactly humans are and what shape a good society might take.
Presenter: Johar Bendjelloul, journalist
Organised by: Fri tanke, Katalys and Volante


Difficult Women

Just how differently is a woman allowed to behave? Why do we react so strongly when a female protagonist breaks the norms? In ‘Daughters of Discouragement’, Anna Laestadius Larsson shows how women’s lack of self-determination in their lives and sexuality runs like a red vein through twentieth century history. Karin Smirnoff brings her acclaimed trilogy about the edgy Jana Kippo to a close with the novel ‘Then I Went Home’. A conversation about women’s space and freedom to act, and about doing what you want despite the costs.
Presenter: Carl-Michael Edenborg, literary critic
Organised by: Piratförlaget and Polaris


Slow Crime – Bringing Suspense to Book Lovers

Three suspense writers come together in conversation about a popular genre sometimes referred to as ‘slow crime’. The focus is typically on well-developed, multi-dimensional characters; relationships are allowed to form and the environment and atmosphere are carefully depicted. Camilla Läckberg has just released her second novel about Faye, ‘Tears of Silver’, which is the sequel to ‘The Gilded Cage’. Following the success of ‘A Nearly Normal Family’, Mattias Edvardsson returns with ‘The House Next Door’. Rebecka Edgren Aldén’s ‘Deadline’ is a relationship thriller set in the offices of a glamorous lifestyle magazine where a game of life and death is being played.
Presenter: Kattis Ahlström, journalist
Organised by: Forum and Norstedts


Putting Norrland on the Thriller Map

How does the setting add to the suspense? Hans Rosenfeldt and Stina Jackson share a love for the Swedish province of Norrland and both write suspense fiction set in the sparsely populated far north. Hans Rosenfeldt has just released ‘When Crying Wolf’, the first book in a new series set in the town of Haparanda. Following her lauded debut ‘The Silver Road’, Stina Jackson has written a new suspense novel, ‘The Last Snow’, which is set in a small village near Arvidsjaur. Together, they will be in conversation about what place means to them in a narrative, and the marks northern Sweden leaves on their writing.
Presenter: Kattis Ahlström, journalist
Organised by: Albert Bonniers Förlag and Norstedts


Children’s Books – Free Zone or Battlefield?

Cultural debate is rarely as heated as it is when the content of children’s books is being questioned. Yet books for children and young people can also create a safe environment for conversation and provide an opportunity to discuss controversial issues. Kristoffer Leandoer, who has explored the issue in ‘Children – Paradise and the Escape From It’ will meet the author Christina Wahldén and the journalist Fredrik Wadström, who have followed the publication of Swedish children’s books with LGBT themes in Belarus. Together they will discuss the opportunities and limitations of children’s literature.
Presenter: Jenny Aschenbrenner, cultural journalist
Organised by: Swedish PEN


The Swedish Nature Craze

Increasing numbers of Swedes are heading into nature to find space for contemplation. But where does this nature-focused spirituality come from? Is today’s digital society and the pressure to be constantly available at the root of our desire to be part of something bigger? In his book ‘People of the Pine Forest’, David Thurfjell describes the religious history of the Swedish love for nature. In ‘Closer to Nature’, Åsa and Mats Ottosson share research on the health benefits of nature. The trio will come together for a conversation about the craze for nature throughout the ages and how we find our existential footholds in the natural world.
Presenter: David Fjäll, journalist
Organised by: Bonnier Fakta and Norstedts


Who Has Power Over the Female Body?

Hanna Nordenhök’s book ‘Caesaria’ engages with the disciplinary ideas and mechanisms of the nineteenth century, including male hubris and vulnerable children at the bottom of society, wallowing in dirt and wild visions. This is the dawn of modern gynaecology and obstetrics, and the female body is a dark landscape beneath the scalpel. Mian Lodalen’s novel, ‘Lisa and Lilly’, is based on the true story of two working class girls’ forbidden love. They saw no way out except to meet death while locked in embrace. A conversation about ownership of the female body, power and class, as well as basing novels on historical events.
Presenter: Johanna Frändén, journalist
Organised by: Norstedts and Romanus & Selling


Big Emotions for the Youngest Readers

How can we provide children with the tools to handle their emotions? ‘Sad’, by the author Lotta Olsson and illustrator Emma AdBåge, is a picture book about difficult emotions such as loneliness and grief. Illustrator and children’s book author Stina Wirsén has just released ‘Who Dares?’, keenly depicting the small nuances that transform stories into dramatic adventures filled with powerful emotions. Children's psychologist Reyhaneh Ahangaran has written ‘The Feelings Book: For Primary School Pupils’ to create opportunities for children and adults to discuss emotions together.
Presenter: Ebba Kleberg von Sydow, journalist
Organised by: Bonnier Carlsen, B. Wahlströms and Rabén & Sjögren


The Right of the Storyteller

There is an ongoing and sometimes inflamed debate about whether authors from privileged backgrounds can – or even have the right – to tell stories about the working classes or those of different ethnicities. What is a genuine storyteller’s voice, and how important is personal experience? At the same time, the downtrodden and oppressed still struggle to make their voices heard. The right of the storyteller is unevenly distributed. Does the fault lie in the literary system itself? Authors Arazo Arif, Aris Fioretos, Anneli Jordahl and Mara Lee will be in conversation about what storytelling can involve. Just what sort of right is it?
Presenter: Parisa Amiri, journalist
Organised by: Swedish PEN