What does December look like to you? Whether it means skis and snow boots, or Santa Claus’ sand-friendly sleigh pulled by six white singing kangaroos, you need these renowned Nordic authors on your bookshelf.
Despite the actual variety in climate and landscape, it can seem as if the winter season is ingrained in the culture of Nordic countries. In addition to dominating at the winter Olympics every four years, images of cozy Scandinavian-style interiors have been used to sell everything from books and hot chocolate to furniture and lifestyle trends.
But the geographical region known for hygge and happiness also happens to be the home to its fair share of accomplished authors. Keep reading to discover five brilliant authors from Nordic countries that’ll fit snugly into your winter reading list this year. (Hot chocolate optional!)
Award-winning Finnish writer Leena Krohn has written everything from poetry and adult fiction to children’s books and essays. As one of Finland’s most iconic writers, Krohn’s work has been translated into over 20 languages and is often categorized as sci-fi or fantasy (though Krohn herself spurns any type of genre label!).
Leena Krohn: Collected Fiction weighs in at over 850 pages and includes novels, short stories, and excerpts spanning her career of over 40 years.
2. Sophie's World — Sofies verden
Norwegian author Jostein Gaarder wrote Sophie's World from the viewpoint of a young girl (Sophie) who accidentally, through mail correspondence with a philosopher named Alberto Knox, becomes a student of philosophy.
From Socrates to Jean-Paul Sartre, the reader takes a trip through the history of philosophy through Sophie’s eyes. When both Sophie and Alberto begin to receive mysterious postcards addressed to a girl named Hilde, Sophie must use what she learned about philosophy to solve the riddle.
3. The Great Enigma: New Collected Poems — Den stora gåtan
Known as a ‘people’s poet,’ Swedish Nobel Prize winner Tomas Tranströmer’s work is recognized by its accessibility, themes of winter and nature, and icy isolation.
This collection contains work that spans his entire career, including poems published after the author’s stroke in 1990, which impaired his ability to speak and write, leading to a shift from long prose to shorter forms of poetry, such as haiku. Tranströmer would continue to write poetry into the 2000s, and his work has been translated into over 60 different languages.
4. Mirror, Shoulder, Signal — Spejl, skulder, blink
Danish writer Dorthe Nors is known for her dark humor and minimalistic style. In this novel, she narrates the experience of a 40-something woman named Sonja, plagued by vertigo and fallen arches.
A translator of crime novels (a job once held by the author herself), Sonja, looking for direction in her Copenhagen life, takes up driving lessons, attempts to reconnect with her sister, and sees a masseuse who doubles as her spiritual healer. But, the main character continues to feel trapped, and longs for the rural upbringing of the childhood she thought she’d left behind.
Famous for her critical exploration of political and social themes through her work, author Svava Jakobsdóttir is considered one of Iceland’s greatest modern writers. Published only four years before Svava’s death, The Lodger and Other Stories contains 17 short stories, and was recommended by Katrín Jakobsdóttir, Iceland’s prime minister, as a must-read for foreign visitors hoping to better understand Iceland and Icelandic culture.
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Who are your favorite Nordic authors? Share your suggestions to add to this list in the comments!