Who better to turn to for Scandinavian reading recommendations than the DIS Copenhagen librarian, Kalle Weis-Fogh? He’s got something for everyone: young-adult fiction, memoir, short stories, and literary classics.
Hear from Kalle on why he chose these five Scandinavian books:
Johan Harstad (2015): Max, Mischa and the Tet-Offensive.
An epic novel (1086 pages) about a young boy who moves to the U.S. from Norway. A book about growing up, art, friendship, and war. Harstad’s book seems a massive undertaking, but the writing is crisp and flows beautifully. In some ways to be read almost like a “Great American Novel,” but seen from the perspective of a Norwegian growing up in the US.
Tove Ditlevsen (1967 -1971): The Copenhagen Trilogy (Childhood, Youth and Dependency)
Three small books written in a biographical style by and about famed Danish novelist Tove Ditlevsen. The books deal with different stages of Ditlevsens life in the then tough, but now somewhat gentrified, area of Vesterbro, Copenhagen. Ditlevsen is unsparing in her description of herself. The books are tough and beautiful in equal measure.
Tove Jansson (1957): Moominland Midwinter
Janssons’ books on the The Moomins are all pretty flawless. Labeled as books for children, the reality is, that the world of the Moomins is a fantastical adventure ground for kids and adults alike. Moominland Midwinter finds the Moomintroll out of hibernation in a world covered by a cold, wet powder and with the rest of the family asleep, he has to navigate this new world.
Knut Hamsun (1890): Hunger
This novel follows the life of a starving young man in, what was at the time, a bustling modern big city. The man tries, in vain, to maintain a respectable presence, but is slowly crumbling on the inside. A book about the human psyche, it is rightly hailed as one of the classic works of world literature and a masterclass in storytelling.
Astrid Lindgren (1973): The Brothers Lionheart
Lindgren’s story of two brothers is another book initially aimed at children and young adults, but reads like an amazing adventure for all ages. At times fantastical and philosophical, at other times light-hearted and deeply moving. Lindgren earns her reputation as one of the most beloved Swedish authors of all time. A picture of Lindgren is featured on the Swedish 20 Kroner bill.
Kalle has a Masters in Library and Information Science from the Royal School of Information Science in Copenhagen. He lives in the Frederikberg area of Copenhagen with his family and many books and records. His interest in literature focuses on Crime Fiction, US/UK & Scandinavian writers and books for Children. He also enjoys the occasional cup of coffee and/or glass of wine.