Where has the summer gone?! With the reading-hammocks being folded away and back-to-school beckoning, this week we’re highlighting two resources: our new ebook catalogue, and recommendations for university reading lists.
Hot off the (digital) press, our 2020 Ebook Catalogue collects together all the Norvik titles that are currently available for you to download and enjoy instantly on your Kindle or other e-reader device:
Jógvan Isaksen’s Walpurgis Tide, translated by John Keithsson – a slice of Faroese eco-crime
We hope to digitise more of our backlist in future, too.For those returning to campus – in-person, or remotely – we recommend some autumnal poetry: Hans Børli’s We Own the Forest: And Other Poems presents a dual-language text with facing-page English translations rendered by Louis A. Muinzer. This work by the ‘lumberjack poet’ – a phrase I’ve never had occasion to write before! – is ideal for Norwegian classes. Students of Finnish may also be interested in our forthcoming selection of poems by Pentti Saarikoski, A Window Left Open, jointly translated by Emily Jeremiah and Fleur Jeremiah and also in a dual-language format.
Fear of strangers, of the danger lurking outside the safe walls of home – this is a feeling many have become familiar with in recent weeks. In Ilmar Taska’s dramatic novel Pobeda 1946: A Car Called Victory, the fear is of a more tangible enemy, as resistance workers hide from the Soviet occupying forces in Estonia just after the Second World War. A young boy is entranced by the sudden appearance in his street of a shiny new car – and then tricked into betraying secrets he does not know he holds.
We are celebrating the launch of our latest translation at the Print Room at the Coronet, 13th April 2018, 8pm. There, the novel will be brought to life with a dramatic reading by UK actors Anna Winslet, Edmund Harcourt and Chris McKeeman, accompanied with music by Villu Veski and Tiit Kalluste. Afterwards you can enjoy an in-depth conversation between the author of the original, Ilmar Taska, and award-winning journalist Rosie Goldsmith.
Pobeda 1946 is a fascinating evocation of Estonian life under Soviet occupation. Told through the eyes of a young boy it brilliantly captures the distrust and fear that was felt by so many Estonians after World War II. Read more about the book and Ilmar Taska in this earlier blog post.
We are launching Pobeda 1946 at the Estonian Literature Festival, an extension of the London Book Fair to celebrate the centenary of Estonian independence. It will be a weekend devoted to some of Estonia’s finest writers and writings, packed to the brim with poetry, music, panel discussions and more. In addition, all tickets to the fair also include traditional Estonian snacks and drinks for a fully immersive Estonian experience.
This week at we celebrate one hundred years of the Republic of Estonia by immersing ourselves in Estonian literature. Norvik is proud to have published works by several Estonian authors. Viivi Luik’s TheBeauty of History and Ilmar Taska’s newly published debut novel Pobeda 1946: A Car Called Victory transport us to life under Soviet occupation, while Anton Tammsaare’s satire The Misadventures of the New Satan is an enduring classic of European literature. Pick up a copy to celebrate the Estonian Centennial.
In Tallinn in 1946 a young boy is transfixed by the beauty of a luxurious cream-coloured car gliding down the street. It is a Russian Pobeda, a car called Victory. The sympathetic driver invites the boy for a ride and enquires about his family. Soon the boy’s father disappears. Ilmar Taska’s debut novel captures the distrust and fear among Estonians living under Soviet occupation after World War II. The reader is transported to a world seen through the eyes of a young boy, where it is difficult to know who is right and who is wrong, be they occupiers or occupied. Resistance fighters, exiles, informants and torturers all find themselves living in Stalin’s long shadow.
The Misadventures of the New Satan
Translated by Christopher Moseley and Olga Shartze
Satan has a problem: God has come to the conclusion that it is unfair to send souls to hell if they are fundamentally incapable of living a decent life on earth. If this is the case, then hell will be shut down, and the human race written off as an unfortunate mistake. Satan is given the chance to prove that human beings are capable of salvation – thus ensuring the survival of hell – if he agrees to live as a human being and demonstrate that it is possible to live a righteous life. St Peter suggests that life as a farmer might offer Satan the best chance of success, because of the catalogue of privations he will be forced to endure. And so Satan ends up back on earth, living as Jürka, a great bear of a man, the put-upon tenant of a run-down Estonian farm. His patience and good nature are sorely tested by the machinations of his scheming, unscrupulous landlord and the social and religious hypocrisy he encounters.
Riga. News of the Prague Spring washes across Europe, causing ripples on either side of the Iron Curtain. A young Estonian woman has agreed to pose as a model for a famous sculptor, who is trying to evade military service and escape to the West. Although the model has only a vague awareness of politics – her interest in life is primarily poetic – the consequences of the politics of both past and present repeatedly make themselves felt. Chance remarks overheard prompt memories of people and places, language itself becomes fluid, by turns deceptive and reassuring. The Beauty of History is a novel of poetic intensity, of fleeting moods and captured moments. It is powerfully evocative of life within the Baltic States during the Soviet occupation, and of the challenge to artists to express their individuality whilst maintaining at least an outward show of loyalty to the dominant ideology. Written on the cusp of independence, as Estonia and Latvia sought to regain their sovereignty in 1991, this is a novel that can be seen as an historic document – wistful, unsettling, and beautiful.
We’ve come to that time of the year where the only sensible thing to do is to snuggle up under a blanket in the biggest, comfiest chair you can find, and get yourself something hot to drink and a good book. Well, we don’t do blankets, but we can help with the book part! At Norvik, we’ve put together a seasonal recommended reading list of our treasures fit for winter. These are perfect as stocking fillers for friends and family, or why not treat yourself for a few hours in that comfy chair during what the Swedes call mellandagarna (the days between Christmas and New Year)? Click on the link in each title below to visit our website for more information on the books, and how to buy.
This spirited and at times sinister novel ensnares the reader in a tangled encounter between modern-day Scandinavia and the ancient world of myth. In the 1980s, a hardworking Icelandic businesswoman and her teenage daughter Dís, who has been arrested for apparently committing a strange and senseless robbery, are unwittingly drawn into a ritual-bound world of goddesses, sacrificial priests, golden thrones and kings-in-waiting. It is said that Gunnlöth was seduced by Odin so he could win the ‘mead’ of poetry from her, but is that really true, and why was Dís summoned to their world?
Wilfred – alias Little Lord – is a privileged young man growing up in upper-class society in Kristiania (now Oslo) during the halcyon days before the First World War. Beneath the strikingly well-adjusted surface, however, runs a darker current; he is haunted by the sudden death of his father and driven to escape the stifling care of his mother for risky adventures in Kristiania’s criminal underworld. The two sides of his personality must be kept separate, but the strain of living a double life threatens breakdown and catastrophe. This best-selling novel by Johan Borgen, one of Norway’s most talented twentieth-century writers, is also an evocative study of a vanished age of biplanes, variety shows, and Viennese psychiatry.
29 January 1912. In a train compartment in Ogden, Utah, a Danish author was found unconscious. The 54-year-old Herman Bang was en route from New York to San Francisco as part of a round-the-world reading tour. It was a poignant end for a man whose life had been spent on the move. Having fled his birthplace on the island of Als ahead of the Prussian advance of 1864, he was later hounded out of Copenhagen, Berlin, Vienna and Prague by homophobic laws and hostility to his uncompromising social critique as journalist, novelist, actor and dramaturge. Dorrit Willumsen re-works Bang’s life story in a series of compelling flashbacks that unfold during his last fateful train ride across the USA. Along the way, we are transported to an audience in St Petersburg with the Dowager Empress Maria Feodorovna, to a lovers’ nest in a flea-ridden Prague boarding house, to the newsrooms and variety theatres of fin-de-siècle Copenhagen, and to a Norwegian mountainside, where Claude Monet has come to paint snow and lauds Bang’s writing as literary impressionism.
A richly-illustrated one-volume hardback edition of Selma Lagerlöf’s classic tale. This novel started out as a commissioned school reader designed to present the geography of Sweden to nine-year-olds, but Lagerlöf’s work quickly won international fame and popularity, which it still enjoys over a century later. It is a fantastic story of a naughty boy who climbs on the back of a gander and is then carried the length of the country, learning both geography and good behaviour as he goes. It is a story of Sweden, where every province has its tale and out of the many fantasies, a diverse country emerges; a country of the great and the grand, majestic nature and lords and ladies, but also a country of farmers and fishers, goose-herds and Sami, miners and loggers, and of animals – rats and eagles and elk, foxes and geese and all the other creatures who are part of the life cycle of the land.
A House in Norway tells the story of Alma, a divorced textile artist who makes a living from weaving standards for trade unions and marching bands. She lives alone in an old villa, and rents out an apartment in her house to supplement her income. She is overjoyed to be given a more creative assignment, to design a tapestry for an exhibition to celebrate the centenary of women’s suffrage in Norway, but soon finds that it is a much more daunting task than she had anticipated. Meanwhile, a Polish family moves into her apartment, and their activities become a challenge to her unconscious assumptions and her self-image as a good feminist and an open-minded liberal. Is it possible to reconcile the desire to be tolerant and altruistic with the imperative need for creative and personal space?
Kerstin Ekman’s wonderful poem Childhood is presented here as a dual language English/Swedish publication illustrated with original photographs provided by the author. Kerstin Ekman is primarily known as a novelist, but she has occasionally turned to free verse, especially when the subject is autobiographical. In 1993-1994, Swedish TV 1 conducted a series of talks with prominent writers under the rubric ‘Seven Boys and Seven Girls’. In place of an ordinary interview, Kerstin Ekman read aloud Barndom (Childhood). The prose passages are quotations from Ekman’s 1988 novel Rövarna i Skuleskogen (The Forest of Hours).
Also by Kerstin Ekman is the novel The Angel House, in which Ekman provides an alternative, subversive history of the community in which she grew up. It is a story that stretches through a century, told through the perspective of the generation of women living in those times:
A giant had a washbowl which he set down in the forest at the base of a moraine. It was made of granite and deeply indented, and he filled it with clear, amber water which looked like solidified resin when the sun shone on it on a summer’s afternoon.
In winter, the top layer of the water froze into a lid and the entire bowl went very still, just like the forest around it. Then, down at its deepest point, a pattern of stripes and dashes would move. A pike, if there had been one, would have seen that it was not broken lengths of hollow reed swaying there but thousands of his brothers the perch, sluggishly and cautiously changing positions.
Across the top of the lid spun a rope-covered ball and after it, heavy but fast, skated men with clubs in their hands. They were dressed in black knee breeches and grey woollen sweaters. About half of them had black, peaked caps with both earflaps turned up and kept in place with two thin shoelaces knotted on top of their heads.
Half had red knitted hats with tassels. Sometimes one of the ones in peaked caps went whizzing off with long blade strokes, feet inclining inwards, guiding the ball in front of him with his club. If a tassel-hat got in his way, both of them would go crashing onto the rough ice near the shore, flattening the broken reeds and sending ice and coarse snow spraying round their metal blades.
Round the edge of the Giant’s Washbowl, people stood watching, virtually all men, coming so far out of town. But Ingrid Eriksson was standing there too. She stood there every winter Sunday, whenever there was a match on.
For further reading in the New Year, watch out for the brilliant Pobeda, coming very soon.
Finally, we’d like to wish all our readers a very Happy Christmas!
Norvik Press is proud to announce the upcoming publication of the English-language version of Ilmar Taska’s Pobeda 1946. This Estonian novel received critical acclaim when it was first published last year. It has already been translated into Finnish, German and Latvian, and Lithuanian and Danish versions are forthcoming. Norvik Press will release Christopher Moseley’s English-language translation, titled Pobeda 1946 – A Car Called Victory, in early spring 2018. Both Norvik Press and the translator have been awarded grants from the TRADUCTA programme, which supports high-quality translations of Estonian works.
Pobeda 1946 is a historical narrative set in Estonia under Soviet occupation. Secrets and mystery dominate – reflecting the covert behaviour of an oppressed people. At the centre of the story there is a young boy, too young to grasp all the things happening in the adult world around him, who unwittingly reveals a family secret to the kind of person in whom you should never confide – a government agent.
Ilmar Taska, the author of Pobeda 1946, is a well-known name in Estonia, but he has also been active beyond the borders of his own country, working in film, theatre and television in the UK and Sweden, amongst others. In addition to producing, directing and writing for the screen, Taska has also ventured into short-story writing in recent years. In 2014, Taska’s novella ‘Pobeda’ won the Estonian literary prize ‘Looming’ in the short-story category, and the following year, his story ‘Apartment to Let’, was included in the prestigious anthology Best European Fiction 2016, edited by Nathaniel Davis. Pobeda 1946 is Taska’s debut novel.
Norvik Press is delighted to introduce Taska’s novel to an English-language audience, especially as the London Book Fair 2018 will be shining a spotlight on Baltic literature. We at Norvik Press are mesmerised by Taska’s book, and will be excited and intrigued to see what other treasures the Baltic region has to offer.