The Chestnut Man by Søren Sveistrup

The Chestnut Man by Søren Sveistrup
Translated from the Danish by Caroline Waight
US Release Date: September 3, 2019


This title received a lot of buzz in the Danish press upon its release in Denmark as Sveistrup is the creator and writer of the popular TV show The Killing and has many other TV and film writing credits to his name. And the Danish reviews lived up to all the buzz, culminating in Sveistrup winning The Danish Crime Academy’s (Det Danske Kriminal Akademi) award for best first novel in 2019.

Early reviews here is the US look equally positive, with Kirkus calling it “one of the best and scariest crime novels of the year.” So this may be a good one to recommend to library patrons looking for their next dose of Nordic Noir.

If you want to go deeper: The February 4, 2019 episode (Ep. 24) of the Metro Book Chat podcast has a wonderful interview with Sveistrup (in English) in which he talks about his creative and writing processes and how he uses this genre to explore personal fears and experiences. It’s a great listen and I highly recommend it.

Looking forward: I just found out that one of my favorite Scandinavian series is coming out in English. The first of Katrine Engberg’s delightful, suspenseful series will come out here in January 2020. The first book is called The Tenant in English and I will be sure to remind everyone as the publication date approaches.

And now for something completely different: I have been wanting to read more in the Sci Fi/Fantasy genre and I found a fantastic book called Spinning Silver by Naomi Novik. It features strong female characters working together and with their families to overcome obstacles and I loved it. No Scandinavian connection but there is lots of snow and ice in this tale!

Please leave a comment with your thoughts or any book recommendations. I’d love to hear from you.

Louisiana Literature Festival


One of my many travel dreams is to attend the Louisiana Literature Festival which is held annually just north of Copenhagen.  It takes place in late August and this year I couldn't fit it in with the Scandinavian Language Associations' Meeting (otherwise known as the SLAM! Conference) that I am attending in Malmö next week, but someday...

Louisiana Literature features a wide selection of Nordic and international authors.  I think one of the most anticipated appearances this year was Danish author Leonora Christina Skov whose book Den, der lever stille has been widely praised in Denmark since its release this past January.  I've read and heard so much about it and I will be picking it up immediately once I get to Copenhagen next week.  I'm so excited to read it.

Despite her long career as a novelist, critic and commentator in Denmark, there doesn't seem to be much written about Leonora Christina Skov in English.  I am sure that will change very soon given her current tremendous success.  She is a uniquely glamorous figure in Danish letters with her vintage-inspired dresses, colorful cardigans, and pretty shoes.  I don't think the Danish media knows entirely what to do with this unapologetic femininity paired with such talent and intellect. But I've loved watching her skillful use of Instagram (@leonorachristinaskov) to connect directly with her readers in a way that seems honest, gracious and heartfelt.  She is absolutely a Scandinavian author to watch.

Louisiana Literature maintains a video channel of festival highlights and if Leonora Christina Skov's talk  is shared there I will post a link in a future blog.  In the meantime, I'll share this wonderful video from the 2016 festival which features two towering figures in Norwegian literature, Karl Ove Knausgaard and Tomas Espedal.  They talk about their work and the writing life and they are enormously entertaining.  You will not regret a second of the 56 minutes spent with these two.  The video is fully subtitled in English.


Knausgaard's work is widely publicized in the US, but I don't know that Espedal has the same name recognition here.  Four of his books have been translated into English so far and he is such a beautiful and poetic writer - I highly recommend seeking him out if you have not had the pleasure of reading his work.




Doing Business in Denmark


The English language media is full of stories saying that the Danes are the happiest people on earth.  They were unseated by Norway last year but they held the title for several years running and this has inspired a lot of interest in the Danish way of life in the US and the UK and resulted in the publication of many books in English over the past years about Danish society.  There is even a special subset of these books devoted to the Danish concept of hygge.  And though my spell check doesn't recognize it, I could probably dispense with the italics because the word hygge was added to the OED last year- such is its popularity.

Despite all this interest in Denmark and the Danish lifestyle, I suspect many people may not know that Denmark is also rated one of the easiest countries in the world to do business in by the World Bank.  They are rated number one in Europe and number three in the world for ease of doing business.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Denmark indicates that Denmark’s stability and transparency (including lack of corruption) are part of the reason for its high ranking.  It also extols the virtues of the Danish workforce, stating that:

Danish employees distinguish themselves by being highly educated, efficient and responsible. Thus, ‘self-managing teams’ are very common within Danish business and industry: a typical team does all its own planning to achieve targets, with minimal intervention from management. Danish employees are also known for being healthily self-critical, with a willingness to learn and a commit- ment to making improvements – in both production and performance. Denmark also has a strong tradition of collaboration between universities and private-sector companies, which co-operate on research that often culminates in innovative, prize-winning products.
— The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Denmark

The Ministry considers life science, green tech, technology, the maritime industry, food manufacturing and design to be Denmark’s core competencies.  You can read the entire report Denmark: Best Country for Business at the Ministry's website.  The Ministry also provides a quick overview of establishing a business in Denmark and links to more in-depth resources.

As Denmark is consistently ranked one of the most globalized nations in the world, interest in Denmark from abroad is sure to continue and I look forward to providing further insights into Danish culture and business climate in future posts.

Thanks for reading my first substantive post and please join in with any questions or comments below.

Further Reading:

If you are interested you can view the entire World Happiness Report and the reasons that the UN publishes it here

World Bank Data pertaining to the ease of doing business in various countries is available here.