Thursday, November 11, 2010

Translated Works and the Scandinavian Trend

I'm not sure, but I think I may have touched on translated works here before. At any rate, it would have been back in the beginning and the current rising trend in Scandinavian thrillers/mysteries prompts me to talk about it again.

First let me say that I'm a huge fan of translated works. Seeing the international bestsellers lists in PW always has a sense of excitement and frustration for me because I always have to wonder when or if we'll be getting our chance at some of the books that are doing well internationally.

I've heard complaints amongst the publishing industry that translated works just don't do very well. In the grand scheme of things, statistics and all, this is probably still true. All it really takes, though, is for one book to generate a lot of buzz and a new trend is kicked off. And this is what we're seeing right now thanks to Stieg Larsson's popularity.

A couple of notes on that, though. This is not the first time that Scandinavian thrillers have had marked popularity in the States. I can name plenty of authors (Henning Mankell, Peter Hoeg, Jo Nesbo) who have been around in the US market for quite some time.

Another note is the fact that Larsson's debut in the States was accompanied by a HUGE marketing campaign, something many foreign authors don't receive here. One example (France this time) is Jean Christophe-Grange, an author I've talked about here before who's translated work is hard to come by in the US. His last release here was the grossly under-adverstised Empire of Wolves. Grange has had four new releases in France since Wolves came out here and none (to my knowledge) has been translated for an English speaking audience.

So there's two sides to that coin. I think Larsson's work proves a. that there is a viable market for translated works here (as evidence by others such as Carlos Ruiz Zafon, Natsuo Kirino, Ohran Pamuk, Isabel Allende and so many more) and b. a great marketing plan goes a long way in introducing readers to these works.

Now everyone's looking for the next Larsson along with the next Twilight. A slew of new foreign fiction is set to hit markets in the coming months:
  • Liza Marklund, already a bestseller overseas, made her US debut co-authoring James Patterson's The Postcard Killers. Her latest solo novel, Red Wolf, is due out here in the States in Feb.
  • Another one getting lots of buzz lately is Anders Roslund and Borge Hellstrom's Three Seconds, set for release in January, one of the first releases in Sterling's new fiction imprint, Silver Oak.

Others on my "To Read" Scandinavian list include Camilla Lackberg, who's The Ice Princess was released here this summer, Johan Theorin, Jo Nesbo, and Lars Kepler -- just to name a few.

If you're interested in seeing what's on the horizon in Scandinavian translated fiction here in the States, check out ScandinavianBooks.com. They've got news, reviews, and profiles of both crime and fiction authors.

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