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Literature of the Faroe Islands

This week, we would like to draw attention to a blog written by Pardaad Chamsaz, Curator of Germanic Collections at the British Library, on the literature of the Faroe Islands: https://blogs.bl.uk/european/2020/04/this-grain-of-sand-is-nevertheless-a-whole-world-literature-of-the-faroes.html

The Faroes’ literary traditions are therefore both long-established and yet still novel; they are also both local and yet inextricably tied to Denmark and the wider world. These tensions have defined the distinctiveness of Faroese literature.  — Pardaad Chamsaz

If this has made you curious about Faroese literature, you may like to browse our two translations:

Walpurgis Tide

Jógvan Isaksen’s Walpurgis Tide, translated by John Keithsson and featuring a foreword by Dominic Hinde, is a thrilling slice of Faroese crime fiction. Two British environmental activists are discovered dead amongst the whale corpses after a whale-kill in Tórshavn. The detective Hannis Martinsson is asked to investigate by a representative of the organisation Guardians of the Sea – who shortly afterwards is killed when his private plane crashes. Suspicion falls on Faroese hunters, angry at persistent interference in their traditional whale hunt; but the investigation leads Martinsson to a much larger group of international vested interests, and the discovery of a plot which could devastate the whole country.

You can read a report of our book launch for Walpurgis Tide in a previous blog post here, and a review of it here. It’s a timely read, as this 2020 documentary by the BBC demonstrates.

Walpurgis Tide is available to order here, or as an eBook on Kindle here –perfect if you don’t want to wait for the post to arrive!

Barbara 

Originally written in Danish, Barbara was the only novel written by the Faroese author Jørgen-Frantz Jacobsen (1900–38), yet it quickly achieved international bestseller status and is still one of the best-loved classics of Danish and Faroese literature. This translation is by George Johnston.

On the face of it, Barbara appears to be a historical romance: it contains a story of passion in an exotic setting with overtones of semi-piracy; there is a powerful erotic element, an outsider who breaks up a marriage, a built-in inevitability resulting from Barbara’s own psychological make-up… everything you might desire in a page-turning love story! But Barbara stands as one of the most complex female characters in modern Scandinavian literature: beautiful, passionate, devoted, amoral and uncomprehending of her own tragedy. Jørgen-Frantz Jacobsen portrays her with fascinated devotion, and the ‘romance’ is in the vein of Daphne du Maurier’s darker tales.

Barbara is available to order here.

Further reading

The Facebook page for the Representation of the Faroes in London shares further ideas for lockdown reading on a Faroese theme: https://www.facebook.com/faroesinlondon and the FarLit website has some recommendations for your reading list too: https://www.farlit.fo/

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Nordic crime fiction event

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On Monday 22 May, our friends at UCL’s Nordic Noir Book Club are holding a book launch and panel discussion featuring Scandinavian crime fiction authors Jorn Lier Horst (Norway), Lone Theils (Denmark) and Stefan Ahnhem (Sweden). The authors will be presenting their new and forthcoming work, and host Jakob Stougaard-Nielsen (UCL Scandinavian Studies) will be celebrating the launch of his book Scandinavian Crime Fiction, recently published by Bloomsbury.

A selection of Norvik Press books will be available for sale at the event (cash or card). Our crime fiction titles Murder in the Dark (Dan Turèll, Denmark, trans. Mark Mussari) and Walpurgis Tide (Jógvan Isaksen, Faroes, trans. John Keithsson) will be available at the special price of £10. The play The Contract Killer (Benny Andersen, Denmark, trans. Paul Russell Garrett) will be on sale at £5 – while stocks last.

The venue is Juju’s Bar & Stage in E1, and tickets are only £5. More details can be found on the EventBrite ticket booking page: click here to book via EventBrite.

We hope to see you at Juju’s on 22 May!

 

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Jógvan Isaksen’s Walpurgis Tide: Book Launch Report

 

Launch Panel
Our launch panel: Janet Garton, Barry Forshaw, Jógvan Isaksen and John Keithsson. Image courtesy of Kåre Gade

A large and enthusiastic audience, of whom several had already found time to read the book, gathered for the launch of our first venture into Faroese crime fiction, Walpurgis Tide by Jógvan Isaksen. The panel was introduced by the book’s editor at Norvik Press, Professor Janet Garton. Our chairman was Nordic crime-fiction aficionado Barry Forshaw, who jovially and expertly held the reins in the discussion between the book’s author and its translator John Keithsson. Jógvan Isaksen is a man of many parts who teaches at Copenhagen university and is the author of numerous books, ranging from academic titles to two successful series of crime novels, which are only now starting to be translated into English. He also finds time to take the helm at the Faroe Islands’ leading publishing house. The discussion and audience questions ranged far and wide on topics including Faroese reliance on its traditional whaling and fishing industries, the challenges of translating dialect, the Faroese tendency to live and work abroad, the stark beauty of the landscape, the broadening out of the islands’ publishing industry from more esoteric fare to include popular fiction, and the central importance of the midday radio news in Faroese cultural life.

9781909408241The author and translator explained why they had chosen to start with the third of the nine books featuring freelance journalist Hannis Martinsson as the main protagonist and pondered on which other books in the series would have appeal for the new, wider readership. Jógvan Isaksen acknowledged Agatha Christie and other Golden Age British crime writers, and American west coast crime from the likes of Hammett and Chandler, as some of his primary sources of inspiration. Parallels were drawn with Icelandic crime fiction; in both small nations, crime rates are very low and murders extremely rare, making the success of the fictionalised crime genre there all the more intriguing. We were lucky enough to have Victoria Cribb, translator of Arnaldur Indridasson and Yrsa Sigurdardóttir, in the audience.

We would like to thank the Faroese Representation in the UK and the Danish Embassy for hosting the event and making us so welcome.

Walpurgis Tide is available at all good bookstores and online>