What I Read for the 2022 #ScandiReadingChallenge

The 2022 Scandinavian Reading Challenge was the most intensive and focused of them all. I read through the decades of the last century in Norway. A major component of this challenge was researching Norway’s history and finding books for each of the decades, a process I really enjoyed.

A highlight was adding many new-to-me Norwegian authors to my repertoire. I am now familiar with two more classic Nordic Noir authors, Anne Holt and Gunnar Staalesen; I had previously read Kjell Ola Dahl and Jo Nesbø. Long on my radar had been Zeshan Shakar (Reading Lately, December 2022) and Simon Stranger (see below), and I added Silje Ulstein (see below) and Nina Lykke (Reading Lately, November 2022) as well, all of whom I want to continue reading.

My 2022 Favorites

The Barrøy Chronicles by Roy Jacobsen, translated from the Norwegian by Don Shaw and Don Bartlett

A highlight of the challenge was reading all four books in this series. I don’t normally complete a series all at once, but due to the nature of this reading challenge, I did this time. The series takes place in Northern Norway beginning in the 1900s and wrapping up in the 1960s. The main character, Ingrid, is a smart, independent, and admirable woman born, raised, and living on a fictional remote island. She was a very memorable character and her life experiences were varied and interesting. Each book’s time lapse was very different from the others. I was sad to leave Ingrid’s world behind when the series ended. All four books are now available in English translation. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Keep Saying Their Names by Simon Stranger, translated from the Norwegian by Matt Bagguley 

The book is what one might call a documentary novel (though the author just calls it a novel) and has a very unique structure. It blends real Norwegian World War II history (in particular Norwegian Nazi collaboration) with the author’s Jewish wife’s family history into a fictionalized story told through chapters following the alphabet (the Norwegian title translates to “Dictionary of light and darkness”). The book was always eye-opening, often disturbing, at times brutal (not for sensitive readers), but it was also somewhat hopeful in that it was also a story of survival and how to live on – hence the reference to light and darkness in the Norwegian title. Read more about the book’s unique story and structure in Reading Lately, February 2023. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Reptile Memoirs: A Novel by Silje Ulstein, translated from the Norwegian by Alison McCullough

I really enjoyed this one — the characters, the storylines, the structure, the settings, the writing/translation, the twists. It all came together for a great ride. But it’s certainly not for everyone. Not only do you have to keep track of different settings and multiple perspectives (including the snake’s!), but also trigger warnings abound. It’s a thriller that takes place in western Norway – Ålesund in the early 2000s and Kristiansund over 6 days in 2017. In Ålesund, Liv and her housemates spontaneously decide to buy a python and Liv becomes obsessed with it. In Kristiansund, Mariam’s 11-year-old daughter disappears and detectives immediately suspect Mariam. Over time, the two plot lines intersect. As the book jacket says and I can’t say it any better, it is “a brilliantly twisty and unusual literary thriller.” I highly recommend the audiobook narrated by Julie Maisey. It was an excellent narration. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Have you read any of these or others that would fit in this challenge?

Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.