Marked up to be included in the Scandinavian-Canadian Journal
This collection of essays brings together a wide range of perspectives on an even wider range of authors, genres, and trends in contemporary Nordic literature. In his introduction, editor Mads Bunch describes how the project grew out of a series of seminars during spring 2010 when he realized both that there had been some interesting parallel developments in different Nordic countries in the past ten to fifteen years. He also realized that he knew relatively little about what was happening in neighbouring countries. The resulting book is a kind of antidote to this problem, a form of public service to scholars and readers of Nordic literature and to the tradition of Nordic collaboration in literary studies. While no single work could capture all aspects of the region’s literature in even such a circumscribed period (2000-2012), and though there are some omissions in terms of different genres or national or linguistic contexts, overall this collection serves as an excellent resource for a broad range of scholars in Scandinavian Studies. It is particularly helpful for those who specialize in a different time period or one specific region and who have not had the time to stay up-to-date on other traditions or the most recent literature.
It is indeed an ambitious undertaking to attempt to survey not only Danish, Norwegian, and Swedish, but also Faeroese, Finland-Swedish, Icelandic, and Danish-Greenlandic contemporary literature; the fifteen authors of the thirteen chapters (two are co-authored) also come from varying national and linguistic backgrounds and institutional affiliations, and their individual contributions unsurprisingly display a range of different approaches. Some of the chapters have a quite narrow focus on single authors, while others offer rather more sweeping reflections on multiple authors from one national tradition. The result is a colourful patchwork compilation that reflects the state of Nordic literature studies today in a manner that also demonstrates a pan-Nordic sense of community that is quite satisfying, especially for those of us located far outside of the region.
Bunch’s introduction does a very admirable job of summarizing and relating the contributions and in drawing out some of the common themes of the volume. He points to realism, particularly in relation to global media,
slægtsromaner selvfremstilling jagberättelser
Close readings of works by one or just a few individual authors make up four of the chapters. Mads Bunch analyzes the influence of reality television on the private as depicted in Kirsten Hammann’s
Poetry is mentioned fleetingly in several parts of the collection, but given more dedicated attention in a pair of chapters. Kristina Madsen offers a survey of contemporary Danish poetry, emphasizing the diversity of voices and dialogic qualities in much of it, and also its socially engaged,
episk-narrativ form epic-narrative form
en translingvistisk praksis a translinguistic practice
Five chapters provide broad summaries of trends in the literature of different national groups within the Nordic Region, including some that are often underrepresented in the broader Nordic context. Åsta Stenwall-Albjerg writes on Finnish and Finland-Swedish prose, highlighting the differences in the two traditions. Per Thomas Andersen offers a sweeping overview of contemporary Norwegian literature, with a special emphasis on the dissolution of the traditional family and the national state. Kim Simonsen introduces contemporary Faeroese literature as a both socially-engaged and internationally-aware literature. This chapter presents more extended contextualization, looking back to the 1960s and forward from there, and thus considers national trends in modernism and as well as postmodernism. Erik Skyum-Nielsen’s chapter on Icelandic contemporary literature is especially strong in its taxonomical breakdown of Icelandic literature. He considers magical realism (or surrealism) and also presents Icelandic literature’s strong connection to tradition mixed with an interest in hybrid genres and cross-cultural narratives. Kirsten Thisted gives a summary of Danish-Greenlandic literature starting several decades back, but the bulk of her argument centers on the role of the transitions in Greenland’s colonial history, particularly using the example of Hans Jakob Helms’s
For the most part, this book lives up to its promise of providing a broad Nordic perspective on literature in the first dozen years of the 21st century. The overwhelming variety of the topics and authors covered is just a