SELTA members shortlisted for Petrona Award

The shortlist for the Petrona Award 2017 for the Best Scandinavian Crime Novel of the Year includes The Dying Detective by Leif G.W. Persson and The Wednesday Club by Kjell Westö, both translated by Neil Smith, and The Bird Tribunal by Agnes Ravatn translated from Norwegian by Rosie Hedger. Congratulations to all the shortlisted authors and translators. Read on for the full list.

Six outstanding crime novels from Finland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden have made the shortlist for the 2017 Petrona Award for the Best Scandinavian Crime Novel of the Year. They are:

THE EXILED by Kati Hiekkapelto tr. David Hackston (Orenda Books; Finland)

THE DYING DETECTIVE by Leif G.W. Persson tr. Neil Smith (Doubleday; Sweden)

THE BIRD TRIBUNAL by Agnes Ravatn tr. Rosie Hedger (Orenda Books, Norway)

WHY DID YOU LIE? by Yrsa Sigurđardóttir tr. Victoria Cribb (Hodder & Stoughton, Iceland)

WHERE ROSES NEVER DIE by Gunnar Staalesen tr. Don Bartlett (Orenda Books, Norway)

THE WEDNESDAY CLUB by Kjell Westö tr. Neil Smith (MacLehose Press, Finland)

The winning title will be announced at the Gala Dinner on 20 May during the annual international crime fiction event CrimeFest, held in Bristol 18-21 May 2017.

The award is open to crime fiction in translation, either written by a Scandinavian author or set in Scandinavia and published in the UK in the previous calendar year.


This year's London Book Fair will be held on 14-16 March 2017. Read on...

The London Book Fair is a major networking opportunity for translators. The Literary Translation Centre has a rolling programme of interesting translation-related panels across all three days and you are sure to meet up with fellow translators either in the (limited) seating area or listening around the sides. The Nordic Stand, another magnet for Nordic translators is at 6F70.    

If you're going to be in London for the fair and need a break from talking to people at Olympia, or are arriving early or staying on after the event, London currently offers other Scandinavian themed activities.

The Moomin Exhibition is on at the Southbank Centre until 23 April 2017.  

The Josef Frank Exhibition is on at London's Fashion and Textile Museum until 7 May.


Nordic Council Literature Prize 2017 nominees announced

The shortlist for the 2017 Nordic Council Literature Prize has been announced today. Sweden's nominees are poet Ann Jäderlund and writer Birgitta Lillpers. Åland's nominee is Johanna Boholm, while Finland-Swedish poet Tomas Mikael Bäck also takes one of Finland's nominations. Congratulations to all! See the full shortlist here.

2016 August Prizewinners announced

Named after August Strindberg, Sweden's August Prize is awarded by the Swedish Publishers’ Association for the best Swedish books of the year. This year's awards were announced at a gala night at the end of November.

The winners of the 2016 August Prize, pictured here, were annouced at a gala night at Stockholm's Konserthuset at the end of November.

Best Swedish Fiction Book of the Year: De polyglotta älskarna (The polyglot lovers) by Lina Wolff, published by Albert Bonniers Förlag

Best Swedish Non-Fiction Book of the Year: Gutenberggalaxens nova. En essäberättelse om Erasmus av Rotterdam, humanismen och 1500-talets medierevolution (The nova of the Gutenberg galaxy. Erasmus of Rotterdam, humanism and the sixteenth century media revolution) by Nina Burton, published by Albert Bonniers Förlag.

Best Swedish Children’s Book of the Year: Tio över ett, (Ten past one) by Ann-Helén Laestadius, published by Rabén & Sjögren.


Roundup of Swedish and Nordic Authors at 2016 Edinburgh Book Festival

The Edinburgh International Book Festival​ programme for 2016 features a number of Swedish language writers, as well as a significant number of other Nordic authors. Tickets go on sale on 21 June and can be booked via the festival's website.

Events featuring Swedish language writers:

Jonas Hassen Khemiri

Steve Sem-Sandberg

Agnes Török



Events featuring other Nordic authors and writers:

Cecilia Ekbäck

Kati Hiekkapelto

Ragnar Jónasson

Kim Leine


Gunnar Staalesen


Events featuring discussion of the Nordic situation:

Malcolm Harvey & Michael Keating

Dominic Hinde

WCN Emerging Translator Mentorships Include Finland-Swedish

Applications have opened for the 2016 edition of the Writers' Centre Norwich Emerging Translator Mentorships, previously run by the BCLT.

The translation mentoring programme aims to develop successive new cohorts of literary translators into English, particularly for languages whose literature is currently under-represented in English translation. 
The scheme matches up experienced translators with emerging translators for a six-month period during which they work together on practical translation projects, developing their craft through working on a chosen text or texts. Sarah Death, a SELTA member and former editor of Swedish Book Review, will be the mentor for Finland-Swedish, thanks to the generous support of FILI.
The evidence of the scheme to date suggests that participation in the scheme represents, in itself, a significant professional development for mentees, with publishers seeing the mentoring cohort as a reliable source of high quality emerging translators. Several SELTA members are graduates of the previous incarnations of the programme.
The programme is open to emerging translators at no cost to them. An emerging translator is someone who has published no more than one full length work of translation. MFA and MA students in translation can apply, but priority may be given to those who do not have access to the kind of guidance already present in a translation degree programme.
To find out more about the programme and how to apply, visit the WCN website here.

Laurie Thompson Tribute Edition of Swedish Book Review Out

The spring 2016 issue of Swedish Book Review turns the spotlight on the late Laurie Thompson, a translator who stands out for his skill and mastery.

Laurie Thompson, editor of SBR for twenty years, who died in June 2015, will be remembered for his leading role in the promotion of Swedish literature in the English-speaking world, not least for the significant part he played in introducing British readers to Scandicrime and the ensuing publishing boom. In this issue his friends and colleagues share their personal memories of a very modest man and his outstanding achievements. And their words provide a unique insight into the meeting of academia, translation and publishing in Laurie’s lifetime.

You can read the whole tribute here.

Bernard Shaw Prize Awarded

The Bernard Shaw Prize for translation from Swedish was awarded to Thomas Teal, with Sarah Death receiving a commendation. Read on for further details.

Thomas Teal, who was involved in the discussions to set up SELTA, and indeed coined the name and acronym of our organisation, won the £2000 Bernard Shaw Prize for his translation of Tove Jansson's The Listener published by Sort of Books. In their winner's citation, the judges (Karin Altenberg and B.J. Epstein) noted: "This gorgeous collection of short stories is deceptively simple. As in most of Tove Jansson's works, though, both the words and the silences in between them matter. Thomas Teal seems to have slipped into Jansson's skin in order to bring her smart, touching writing into English."

SELTA member and Swedish Book Review editor alumna Sarah Death was commended by the judges for her translation of A Brief Stop on the Road from Auschwitz by Göran Rosenberg published by Granta. The judges said "Rosenberg's book explores a powerful and painful family story in a creative, almost novelistic style. Sarah Death has managed to translate this lyrical, moving work beautifully and precisely."

The Society of Authors' Translation Prizes evening was held on the evening of 17 February at Europe House in London. The Bernard Shaw Prize was established in 1991 and is awarded triennially. Its current sponsors are the Embassy of Sweden, the Anglo-Swedish Literary Foundation and Arts Council England. Past winners include Robin Fulton, Thomas Teal, Sarah Death, Anna Paterson, Michael Robinson, David McDuff and Tom Geddes.

Happy New Year!

2015 was another busy year for SELTA. Read about it in full in the story below.


Despite the sad loss this year of two of SELTA's most eminent members, Laurie Thompson (a founder member) and Helena Forsås-Scott, the organisation remains strong, with 60 members at last count. It was especially gratifying to hear the level of enthusiasm expressed by members at the AGM in November for another major event with contemporary Swedish authors in the UK in 2016, along the lines of the stimulating day event held in November 2014 – the results of which are still being felt, including in the content of the latest issue of Swedish Book Review.

The 2015:2 issue of SBR has been sent to over 30 editors at UK children's and young adult publishing houses, so they will know about SELTA and the excellent work our members produce.

Members are encouraged to take a few minutes to log in to the Members' Area on the SELTA website  to ensure their contact details are up to date. The email and postal address you enter there are the ones we use within SELTA to contact you and to send copies of Swedish Book Review from Norvik Press, so it's important that your details are correct. It is also possible to edit member profiles and access various members' only documents providing tips, guidance and in-depth information.

We're sure that 2016 will be another exciting year for SELTA. Gott nytt år och god fortsättning!

Brief roundup of SELTA's AGM

SELTA's 2015 Annual General Meeting took place on the afternoon of Thursday 12 November. The meeting was held at the Society of Authors in London and saw a good turnout from members. Following the formal meeting, members enjoyed a talk given by Catherine Fuller and Sarah Burton, the Translators' Association's secretary and contracts adviser, respectively.

The AGM covered a number of subjects, including a spirited discussion about membership rates and tiers, a report from members who attended the Gothenburg Book Fair, the proposal for future SELTA events and plenty of members' news about new commissions landed and publications forthcoming. 

After breaking for tea and biscuits, we welcomed Catherine Fuller and Sarah Burton. Catherine described what the Translators' Association can offer to its members, while Sarah provided practical tips on dealing with translation contracts.

Following the close of the meeting, the committee and many members repaired to a nearby pub to continue their lively conversations.

August Prizes Awarded

The annual August Prizes across various categories were awarded during a gala at the Stockholm Concert Hall on 23 November.

The August Prize was awarded across three categories: Best Swedish Fiction Book of the Year, Best Swedish Non-Fiction Book of the Year, and Best Swedish Children’s Book of the Year, with a prize of SEK 100,000 per award. The Little August Prize, an additional award, is worth SEK 15,000.

Best Swedish Fiction Book of the Year went to Jonas Hassen Khemiri for his work Allt jag inte minns [Everthing I Can't Remember].

Best Swedish Non-Fiction Book of the Year went to Karin Bojs for her book Min europeiska familj [My European Family]. De senaste 54 000 åren.

Jessica Schiefauer won the Best Swedish Children's Book of the Year for När hundarna kommer [When The Dogs Come].

Rasmus Bjerkander won the Little August Prize for Den på intet vis speciella [The (In No Way) Special One].

Reviews of several of these works will appear in the next edition of Swedish book review.

Read more about the 2015 prizes here.


Helena Forsås-Scott, 1945-2015

We are deeply saddened to report that SELTA member and Director of Norvik Press, Helena Forsås-Scott, passed away on 13 July following a short illness.

Helena was the founder and editor of the Norvik Press translation series Lagerlöf in English. She offered substantial to support to SELTA through her various roles in academia and publishing, and regularly encouraged her students to join the association. She was a long-term contributor to Swedish Book Review.  

Helena was Professor of Swedish and Gender Studies at University College London until her retirement in 2010. She then relocated to Scotland, where she was appointed as Honorary Professor of Scandinavian Studies at the University of Edinburgh. She was a pioneering researcher and a much-loved colleague, supervisor, mentor and teacher in the field of Scandinavian Studies in Britain and beyond.

SELTA's thoughts are with Helena's family and friends.

A brief obituary has been published on the Swedish Book Review website, and will be followed by a full piece in a future print edition. You can read it here

Roundup of Nordic authors at 2015 Edinburgh Book Festival

The Edinburgh International Book Festival​ programme for 2015 features a number of Swedish and Finland-Swedish writers, as well as a significant number of other Nordic authors. Tickets went on sale today and can be booked via the festival's website.

Laurie Thompson, 1938-2015

It is with great sadness that we report that SELTA co-founder and former editor of Swedish Book Review, Laurie Thompson, passed away on 8 June 2015.

SELTA co-founder and former editor of Swedish Book Review, Laurie Thompson

Laurie was born in York and lived in northern Sweden for some years. He was Lecturer in Swedish at the University College of Wales, Aberystwyth and then at St David’s University College, Lampeter. Following the adoption of Swedish Books by SELTA and its rebranding as Swedish Book Review, Laurie became its first editor, serving from 1983 until the end of 2002.


Despite illness, Laurie continued to work on his translations even while undergoing treatments. He translated Henning Mankell’s cancer diaries and his translation of Håkan Nesser’s The Living And The Dead In Winsford is due to be published in a few weeks’ time. Laurie also featured in the current edition of Swedish Book Review with a translated extract from Aino Trosell’s short story collection, Krimineller.

SELTA chair Ruth Urbom said: ‘We in SELTA will continue to benefit from Laurie’s many years of hard work that helped to shape SELTA and Swedish Book Review into what they are today.’

Current editor of Swedish Book Review, Deborah Bragan-Turner, said: ‘Swedish Book Review readers, past and present, have much to be grateful to him for. It's hard to imagine now, but in the days before computers and email and digital printing, when practically every single thing had to be done by hand - it was almost all done by him. And, after passing the baton of editorship on, he continued to be a regular contributor - right up until our spring issue this year.’

Sarah Death, a former editor of Swedish Book Review and Laurie's successor, said: 'Laurie was a natural mentor and always happy to let me draw on his 20-year experience as SBR editor if asked, but he was strict about never interfering. Running SBR takes time and dedication, both of which he willingly gave, and though the challenges in his day were rather different from those in the digital age, he knew, and I discovered, that it was all about getting on with people. As evidenced by the tributes coming in from all directions, Laurie was brilliant at establishing warm working relationships right, left and centre, and never made do with a short email if a long, chatty, jokey one could be supplied. He was a kind and generous man and will be much missed.'

SELTA’s thoughts are with Laurie’s family and friends.

Read SELTA member Marlaine Delargy's obituary of Laurie here on the Swedish Book Review website. It will also appear in the 2015:2 print issue.

An obituary of Laurie Thompson appeared in print in The Times on 23 June 2015. You can read it on their website (paywall) here.

Two SELTA Members Shortlisted by the Crime Writers’ Association

SELTA is delighted to announce that two of its members have been shortlisted by the Crime Writers’ Association for its Dagger awards.

Ian Giles is featured on the shortlist for the International Dagger for his translation from Swedish of Andreas Norman’s ‘Into A Raging Blaze’. It has enjoyed critical acclaim from publications such as The Guardian, The Independent and Kirkus Review. A sequel in Swedish has been announced. You can read the review of the Swedish edition, originally published in Swedish Book Review 2013:1, here.



Sarah Death is featured on the shortlist for the Non-Fiction Dagger for her translation from Norwegian of Åsne Seierstad’s ‘One Of Us’.

Our congratulations to both Ian and Sarah. Fingers crossed that they enjoy success in their respective categories when the winners are announced on 30 June.

The full shortlists are available to view in full here.

Two SELTA members on Independent Foreign Fiction Prize 2015 longlist

SELTA is delighted to announce that two of its members feature on the Independent Foreign Fiction Prize 2015 longlist, published today.

Bloodlines coverSilvester Mazzarella is featured on the longlist for his translation from Italian of 'Bloodlines' by Marcello Fois. Antonia Lloyd-Jones, a member of the judging panel, said of Silvester's translation: 'The flawless translation retains a lyrical tone that takes us into a world apart, reflecting the isolation and intensity of living on an island. Despite all, the human spirit wins out in this brave and timeless saga.'

The Ravens coverAlso included on the longlist is Sarah Death for her translation from Swedish of 'The Ravens' by Tomas Bannerhed. Judge Richard Mansell describes the novel as an 'exquisitely told and acutely sensitive tale of loss'.

Our congratulations to both Silvester and Sarah. Fingers crossed the 2015 prize is won by a SELTA member.

To see the longlist in full, please click here.

Swedish Academy honours SELTA member

SELTA member Helena Forsås-Scott has been awarded a prestigious prize by the Swedish Academy. 

The prize, which is awarded as part of the Swedish Academy's annual Belöningar ur Akademiens egna medel [Awards from the Academy's Own Funds], is given to six people annually and is worth SEK 60,000. In her academic roles at UCL and Edinburgh, as well as in her editorship at Norvik Press and various other publications, Helena has played a major role in celebrating and promoting Swedish literature in the UK. SELTA would like to extend to Helena its warmest congratulations.

Read the Swedish Academy's announcement of the award here [in Swedish].

Happy New Year

2014 was a busy year for SELTA - read the full story to see the highlights.

SELTA received generous support from Kulturrådet (the Swedish Arts Council), the Anglo-Swedish Literary Foundation, the Embassy of Sweden in the UK and UCL to bring five Swedish authors over to London in early November for a day of practical translation workshops and talks about their work, as well as an evening of readings for the public. You can read an "official" review of those events here:

SELTA aptly demonstrated its capacity to organise high-quality events for its members and hopes to build on this success in the future.


In addition to the successful workshop and evening event, the society also enjoyed fruitful meetings held at the Embassy of Sweden and UCL. The association and its members featured prominently at the London, Gothenburg and Frankfurt Book Fairs, as well as notable prizes being awarded to several members throughout the year.


2014 also saw the launch of our brand new website. We have received a number of favourable comments about the new site for its fresh look and interesting content, and while there are still a few bugs to be ironed out, we believe the rebooted website will be a very useful means for us to inform publishers, readers, potential new members and each other about the work of SELTA and its members.


If you have not yet visited our blog please do take the chance to do so - there are a number of good reads from throughout the autumn and early winter. We would welcome contributions for blog posts from SELTA members and wellwishers - if you have an idea please get in touch.


For SELTA members, the move to a new site also means that you can now maintain your details directly via our "Members' Area", where you can – if you wish – create a profile for yourself in the Directory of Members. This only takes a few minutes to do. Changes you make to your details also update the central list of members used by SELTA for administrative purposes.


The SELTA Google group has gone from strength to strength, with posts on a variety of topics during the year. If you are a SELTA member but not yet a member of the SELTA Google group and would like to join in the discussion, please email the Chair or Honorary Secretary for an invitation.


With best wishes for 2015!

Five Swedish authors in London

Five leading Swedish authors of children's and young adult (YA) books travelled to London to take part in an all-day event attended by SELTA members, other translators and postgraduate students.

On 7 November Per Gustavsson, Annelis Johansson, Cilla Naumann, Frida Nilsson and Malte Persson presented their books and discussed participants' translations of brief extracts from their works in a stimulating day of workshops and talks.

SELTA is grateful to the Swedish Arts Council, the Anglo-Swedish Literary Foundation, UCL and the Embassy of Sweden for their support, without which this event would not have been possible.

Order of the Polar Star to SELTA member

SELTA member Sarah Death has been awarded the medal of the Order of the Polar Star, a Swedish order of chivalry, for her services to Swedish literature and language abroad.

Sarah has served as the editor of Swedish Book Review for over ten years and is a previous recipient of the George Bernard Shaw Prize (twice) and the prestigious Swedish Academy Translation Prize.

SELTA congratulates Sarah on this great honour and thanks her for her hard work and dedication.

Further details are available on the Sweden Abroad website


The next big thing for Swedish lit abroad?

A panel at the 2014 Gothenburg Book Fair discussed the topic of what sorts of Swedish books might be the next to make a breakthrough in markets outside Sweden.

SELTA member Sarah Death took part in the panel, which was organised by the National Library of Sweden. The panellists mentioned genres such as 'feel-good' novels and autobiographies as ones to watch. A report (in Swedish) on the topics discussed is available here:


"Beyond Nordic Noir" at the LBF

The 2014 London Book Fair included a panel discussion of some of the lesser-known authors and genres from the Nordic countries.

Susanne Bergström Larsson of the Swedish Arts Council (Kulturrådet) also spoke about funding opportunities to support Swedish literature in translation.

For more information on the panel, visit


August Prize Winners 2013

The winners of the 2013 August Prizes have been announced.

Fiction: Egenmäktigt förfarande (Arbitrary Conduct) by Lena Andersson, Natur 
& Kultur.

Non-fiction: Expeditionen. Min kärlekshistoria (The Expedition. My Love Story) by 
Bea Uusma, Norstedts förlag.

Children and young adult category: Snöret, fågeln och jag (Beanie, the Bird and Me) 
by Ellen Karlsson and Eva Lindström, Hippo Bokförlag.

2013  also  saw  the  first  ever  August  Prize  podcasts,  in  which  the  winners 
discuss each other’s books over cake and coffee. The six podcasts are available 
(in Swedish) from the August Prize website:

Tove Jansson Centenary

2014 marks the hundredth anniversary of Tove Jansson’s birth.

Tove Jansson’s rich and varied output for adults and children will be celebrated throughout the year in Finland, Sweden, and around the world. There will also be a special display devoted to Jansson’s most famous creations, the Moomins, at this year’s Bologna Children’s Book Fair. Further information, and a calendar of events, can be found at

Stockholm Literature

Autumn 2013 saw the inauguration of Stockholm Literature, a new annual 
international literary festival.

The festival, which takes place at Moderna Museet (Stockholm’s Museum of Modern Art), features talks, readings and performances bringing together literature, art and science. This year’s festival is planned for the 24-26 October 2014. For updates visit:

New Initiatives

A range of new activities and publications demonstrate the UK's sustained interest in the literature and wider culture of Sweden and Scandinavia.

2013 saw the founding of Nordic Noir Magazine, a bi-annual magazine devoted to 
Scandinavian crime fiction. The magazine is edited by Barry Forshaw and contains 
articles, interviews and reviews written by fans and bloggers. The magazine is 
downloadable from

Following  a  successful  first  year  in  Sweden,  bilingual  literary  magazine Const 
Literary (P)review
is preparing for its UK launch. The fourth issue, which focuses 
on visual art, will be published in connection with the London Book Fair in April.

The UK festival of Scandinavian culture, Nordicana, followed up on the success of its inaugural weekend last summer with a second event on 1-2 February 2014. 

The expo at the Old Truman Brewery focused mainly on crime fiction and films, 
but also saw exciting forays into other aspects of Nordic culture, such as the 
cuisine of the North.