Michael Gallagher longlisted for 2023 Dagger

Congratulations to SELTA member Michael Gallagher whose translation of Femicide by Pascal Engman (published by Legend Press) is on the longlist for the 2023 Crime Writers’ Association Dagger for Crime Fiction in Translation. Previously known as the CWA International Dagger, the award showcases a broad range of works within the crime genre, including thrillers, suspense novels and spy fiction. Congratulations …

Congratulations to SELTA member Michael Gallagher whose translation of Femicide by Pascal Engman (published by Legend Press) is on the longlist for the 2023 Crime Writers’ Association Dagger for Crime Fiction in Translation.

Previously known as the CWA International Dagger, the award showcases a broad range of works within the crime genre, including thrillers, suspense novels and spy fiction.

Congratulations Michael!

Remembering Eivor Martinus (1943–2023)

Eivor will be both greatly missed and fondly remembered by SELTA and all those who crossed paths with her.

It is with great sadness that we announce the death of former SELTA Chair Eivor Martinus at the age of 79. Eivor was both one of the founding members of SELTA and an integral part of its running, having served as Chair for fifteen years and as a contributor to Swedish Book Review.

Her early years were spent in Gothenburg, where she also went on to study literature before moving to the UK in her early twenties. It was here she would complete her studies and continue to live and work for the rest of her life, apart from summers spent in Blekinge.

Beginning her career as a novel writer before becoming a translator, Eivor initially translated plays: she and her husband Derek were heavily involved in the theatre and Eivor went on to translate – amongst other works – fifteen of Strindberg’s plays into English, as well as writing a biography of Strindberg and the women in his life.

She will be both greatly missed and fondly remembered by SELTA and all those who crossed paths with her.

Read Kate Lambert’s interview with Eivor marking SELTA’s 40th anniversary here.

Nichola Smalley longlisted for International Booker Prize

Congratulations Nichola!

Our congratulations go to Nichola Smalley, who has appeared on the International Booker Prize longlist for the second time! Her translation of Amanda Svensson’s A System So Magnificent It Is Blinding (Scribe UK 2022) is one of thirteen titles to make the list. Read more here.

Global in scope…playfully experimental…Svensson’s riddling magnum opus is eerily enjoyable. Suzy Feay in The Guardian.

Deborah Bragan-Turner’s translation of ‘The Antarctica of Love’ longlisted for Dublin Literary Award

Congratulations Deborah!

Deborah Bragan-Turner’s translation of Sara Stridsberg’s The Antarctica of Love has been longlisted for the 2023 Dublin Literary Award. Congratulations Deborah!

The annual award goes to a novel written in or translated into English and is administered by Dublin City Libraries, with nominations coming in from libraries all over the world. The 2023 longlist features books nominated by 84 libraries from 31 countries (including 29 translations). The shortlist will be revealed on 28th March, with the winner being announced by Lord Mayor of Dublin, Cllr. Caroline Conroy, on 25th May 2023, as part of the International Literature Festival Dublin, which, like the prize, is also funded by Dublin City Council.

In the case of the winner being a translated book, the €100,000 prize is split between author and translator.

In the words of nominating library Bibliothèque Municipale de Reims in France: “Carried by a powerful and poetic writing, this book sublimates the unbearable.”

You can read more about the nomination here.


2022 in Review

Our now traditional round-up of the year from SELTA chair Ian Giles

Dear SELTA members,

Another tumultuous year in the world, but I hope that this message finds you well. I’d like to begin by thanking you for another year of gott samarbete in SELTA and for helping to celebrate our fortieth anniversary. 

Our membership remains robust – we end the year with a membership tally of 84, a decrease of only one compared to last year. This year we have said goodbye to four long-term SELTA members who have opted to retire, while welcoming a number of new members, including both emerging and established translators. I’m glad that our members continue to appreciate what we do.

In last year’s round-up, I promised you untold festivities for 2022 to mark SELTA’s 40th birthday and I hope you feel that we delivered. Collectively, we had a “residency” on the Translators Aloud YouTube channel, which saw SELTA members reading from their own translations of contemporary and classic Swedish literary works. Kate Lambert worked hard to compile a series of new profile pieces for the website, in which various members reflected on what SELTA has meant to them over its 40-year existence, as well as a brief update to Tom Geddes’ comprehensive history of SELTA from 2006. A piece by me examining the way Swedish books make it into English translation also featured in The Bookseller’s first ever translation focus issue.

However, perhaps the most memorable part of our 40th anniversary year came just a few weeks ago. It was wonderful to come together in person on 30 November at the Swedish Ambassador’s residence in London to celebrate the occasion with due pomp and circumstance (aka lots of drinks and canapés, very generously laid on by our hosts). It was especially gratifying to share this evening with such a large number of you, as well as friends of SELTA and other stakeholders from the arts and publishing worlds. I was particularly delighted that Dr Terry Carlbom (Cultural Counsellor at the Swedish Embassy 1979-1983), who facilitated SELTA’s founding, was able to join us for the evening. Our heartfelt thanks to both the embassy and the Swedish Arts Council for their support in organising this event, and for their enthusiastic backing of what we do over the years.

The icing on the (celebratory) cake was a letter from Mats Malm, permanent secretary to the Swedish Academy, that we received in late November, informing us that SELTA had been awarded the Academy’s Prize for the Introduction of Swedish Culture Abroad – worth a handsome SEK 160,000. Of course, we are all delighted at this recognition of both SELTA’s hard work on behalf of its members over the years and our efforts on behalf of Swedish literature and culture as a whole.

We’ve held a number of other events this year. We finally returned to a physical London Book Fair after a 3-year absence, although with the Literary Translation Centre relocated, numbers of exhibitors and delegates down, and no Nordic stand, it did feel a little different. We were delighted to be hosted by Pia Lundberg for dinner and to meet the new(ish) ambassador – but we are holding our thumbs that LBF 2023 will see a return of the Nordic cultural bodies to the event too. 

Most other events took place virtually. In the early spring, our friends in DELT welcomed us to two events they ran at the business end of literary translation, including a workshop on negotiation with Owen Witesman. A number of SELTA members took part in  these, and I know that many have since taken the opportunity to catch up with the recordings. In September, we hosted a virtual event in partnership with DELT and Swedish Book Review that focused on the challenges around translating Scandinavian children’s literature. There was a good turnout for these and plenty of food for thought – again, recordings are available to watch for SELTA members. Our AGM took place virtually this year, but this did not prevent spirited discussion on a range of topics. On a personal note, I would like to thank Kate Lambert and Alice Menzies who both retired from the committee – they served for 6 and 7 years respectively. I’m also pleased that Sophie Ruthven and Kathy Saranpa have joined the committee, and thank them for offering their time.

SELTA continues to maintain an ongoing dialogue with our good friends at the Swedish Literature Exchange. Notwithstanding their generous financial support, which helped to mark our anniversary, they also continue to support the activities of Swedish Book Review. Having supported the 2022/2023 Emerging Mentorship Scheme run by the National Centre for Writing (mentored by Nicky Smalley), funding has once again been made available to support a Swedish mentorship run through ALTA (with Kira Josefsson serving as mentor). One gratifying edition of the Swedish Literature Exchange’s series of översättarsalonger took place just a few days ago with authors familiar to SELTA including Jonas Gren and Anneli Jordahl participating. We do know how to pick ‘em!

Our colleagues at the Swedish Embassy in London also take an active interest in our work. Pia Lundberg (Counsellor for Cultural Affairs) was thrilled to finally welcome us back for our annual dinner at her flat during LBF in the spring, and we were delighted to hear that her contract in London has been extended to the summer of 2023. Pia has been a tremendously supportive figure for Swedish translation during her tenure, and we are very lucky to have her. There is some uncertainty about the long-term future of the cultural counsellor role in the London mission, but we will be doing our utmost to emphasise how important such a figure is.

The shortlist for the 2021 Bernard Shaw Prize included many familiar faces from SELTA. On it were: Neil Smith for ‘Anxious People’, Deborah Bragan-Turner for ‘To Cook a Bear’, Sarah Death (twice) for Hagar Olsson’s ‘Chitambo’ and Tove Jansson’s ‘Letters from Tove’, and Nicky Smalley for ‘Wretchedness’. At a virtual event held on 10 February, Sarah’s translation of ‘Letters from Tove’ was announced as the winner, while her translation of ‘Chitambo’ was joint runner-up. Congratulations! The next Bernard Shaw Prize will be in 2023 (awarded early 2024).

Also during the year, Peter Graves’ translation of Marit Kapla’s ‘Osebol’ was shortlisted for the British Academy Book Prize for Global Cultural Understanding, while the same title was co-winner of the Warwick Prize for Women in Translation. The Petrona Award celebrating the best Scandinavian crime novel of the year went to Agnes Broomé for her translation of Maria Adolfsson’s ‘Fatal Isles’ (while several other SELTA members featured on the longlist and shortlist). It’s great to see the work being done by our members across a range of genres and publishers being appreciated more widely.

Swedish Book Review has once again done sterling work, with new issues published this year and more in the pipeline, as well as virtual events and in-person engagement with stakeholders. It’s all too easy to lay on the superlatives, but Alex Fleming really does do a great job as editor (as do the team at Norvik Press) and we’re ever grateful. Thanks are also due to Darcy Hurford, who took to the role of SBR’s reviews editor like a duck to water.

As yet, I don’t know what 2023 holds for SELTA and its members, but we have various irons in the fire. We have begun to explore the possibility of staging an event in partnership with the BCLT. I’ll let you know when there is more news to share on that front. We also plan to hold our next meeting in the spring in person and in conjunction with the London Book Fair (scheduled to take place 18-20 April). Thanks again for a great year – I look forward to seeing you in the coming months at a SELTA event.

Gott nytt år,

Dr Ian Giles

Chair of SELTA

Agnes Broomé’s translation of Maria Adolfsson’s Fatal Isles wins Petrona Award

Congratulations Agnes and Maria!

This year in its tenth edition, The Petrona Award celebrates the best Scandinavian crime novel of the year.

The judges said of this year’s winner: “Set in the fictional yet completely credible location of Doggerland, this three-islands archipelago in the North Sea reflects Scandinavian, North European and British heritages. Doggerland is shaped and influenced by its geographical position; the atmospheric setting, akin to the wind- and history-swept Faroe and Shetland Islands, and Nordic climes, enhances the suspenseful and intriguing plot of a police procedural that combines detailed observations and thoughts on the human condition.”

Congratulations Agnes and Maria, who both receive prizes.

Major distinction bestowed on SELTA by Swedish Academy

The Swedish Academy recognises SELTA for its dissemination of Swedish culture abroad.

At an event to mark SELTA’s 40th birthday held at the Swedish Ambassador’s residence in London on 30th November, Chair Ian Giles announced the news that SELTA has been awarded Svenska Akademiens pris för introduktion av svensk kultur utomlands (the Swedish Academy’s Prize for the Introduction of Swedish Culture Abroad). This is an annual prize, established in 1992, for efforts to disseminate and promote Swedish culture outside of Sweden). The prize is worth SEK 160,000 (£12,600).

The prize has an illustrious list of past winners, including SELTA members Tom Geddes, Frank Perry, and the late editor of Swedish Book Review Laurie Thompson. Other past winners have included translators Elena Balzamo and Laura Cangemi, as well as the Department of Scandinavian Studies in Poznan, Poland.

SELTA Chair Ian Giles described the award as a tremendous honour, and noted that the committee has written to the Academy’s permanent secretary Mats Malm to offer its thanks. Ian told guests assembled at the 40th anniversary celebration: ‘This award recognises the hard work of every member of SELTA over the years as ambassadors for translation, as well as the sterling efforts of committees past and present. It is particularly gratifying that our efforts to promote Swedish literature abroad have been noticed.’

Warwick Prize awarded to Peter Graves

Peter Graves has been announced as the joint winner of the 2022 prize for his translation of Osebol by Marit Kapla.

Many congratulations to Peter Graves who has been announced as the joint winner of the 2022 Warwick Prize for Women in Translation for his translation of Osebol: Voices from a Swedish Village by Marit Kapla, published by Allen Lane/Penguin Random House. In the first instance of a double award in the Warwick Prize’s history, Peter shares this year’s prize with Tomb of Sand by Geetanjali Shree, translated from Hindi by Daisy Rockwell and published by Tilted Axis Press.

Judges Amanda Hopkinson, Boyd Tonkin and Susan Bassnett said of Osebol: “Selected, edited, and laid out with truly poetic grace and flair, these intimate stories of time and place, change and loss, accumulate into an unforgettable fresco of human experience and memory in an era of transition and upheaval.” You can read more of the judges’ comments here and watch the prize ceremony on YouTube.

Our congratulations once more to Peter and Marit.


Peter Graves shortlisted for Warwick Prize

Congratulations Peter and Marit!

We are delighted to hear that SELTA member Peter Graves’ translation of Osebol: Voices from a Swedish Village by Marit Kapla (Allen Lane 2021) has been shortlisted for the 2022 Warwick Prize for Women in Translation. Established in 2017, the annual prize aims to address the gender imbalance in translated literature and awards the winning pair of author and translator equally. SELTA translators are no strangers to the Warwick Prize, with this being Graves’ second nomination and Sarah Death and Fiona Graham having also appeared on both the longlist and shortlist. You can see all the nominees here.

Marit Kapla’s debut has garnered much acclaim both in Sweden – where it was awarded the August Prize in 2019 – and in the UK, having been nominated for the British Academy Book Prize for Global Cultural Understanding. Our congratulations go to Peter Graves and Marit Kapla.

Two SELTA members featured on 2022 Petrona Award shortlist

Congratulations to Agnes Broomé and Elizabeth Clark Wessel!

SELTA members Agnes Broomé and Elizabeth Clark Wessel have been shortlisted for the 2022 Petrona Award for the Best Scandinavian Crime Novel of the Year. Agnes is shortlisted for her translation of Maria Adolfsson’s Fatal Isles (Zaffre), while Elizabeth is shortlisted for her translation of Anders Roslund’s Knock Knock (Harvill Secker).

The winner will be announced on 8 December.

The award longlist announced earlier in November also featured SELTA member Ian Giles for his translation of Gustaf Skördeman’s Geiger.

The full shortlist, with more details of all 6 shortlisted novels, translated from Swedish, Norwegian, Icelandic, and Finnish can be seen here.