If you want to know more about Scandinavia, a good place to start from is the literature. Scandinavians can be proud of numerous contemporary artists who have established their positions as acclaimed authors. Future generations might consider these books classic works of art, but for now, we praise them as modern masterpieces. Here is the list of 10 Modern Scandinavian Novels & Essays You Should Read
- Nordic Ways (by András Simonyi)
Reflect on Nordic cultures through András Simonyi’s work Nordic Ways. This collection of essays describes the lives of Nordic people through different perspectives. With multiple points of view, you are left to come to your own conclusions and to form opinions on Nordic culture more objectively. Nordic Ways is highly recommended to both Scandinavians and people who want to visit the North. Almost 50 authors from all five countries took part in this project. Their essays embody numerous topics like arts, culture, education, environmental awareness, business, democratic values, and innovation. Almost every aspect of Nordic societies is covered in this admirable book.
- Oneiron (by Laura Lindstedt)
The winner of the 2015 Finlandia Prize, Oneiron, made Laura Lindstedt a well-known Scandinavian author. Her first book also deserves praise, but Oneiron is a complicated story that demanded 8 years for completion. The book combines different writing genres such as poetry and essay. Some writers would have to employ dissertation writing services, coursework writing experts, the best editors, and poets to help her with writing and editing. However, she managed to achieve this complexity on her own. The speculative fiction novel will take you to an unknown place where seven women try to piece together what led them to their deaths.
3. Sacred Tears (by Stig Sæterbakken)
The essay Sacred Tears was brought to us by one of Norway’s most acclaimed contemporary writers. Stig will shake up your soul and empower your thoughts with his unique way of words. The best way to get assured of his talent is reading this incredibly written essay that will consume from the very first passage.
4. Let the Right One In (by John Ajvide Lindqvist)
If you like Stephen King’s stories then John Ajvide Lindqvist might be your next favorite author. Often called “Sweden’s Stephen King” John knows how to evoke chills and intrigue. Let the Right One In is one of his most popular novels. It is both a realistic and fictional horror book. The way it combines vampire-related story with social realist coming-of-age story is admirable. The novel is situated in the early 1980s and revolves around a terrifying friendship between Oskar, a 12-year-old boy, and a vampire child Eli.
5. Tómas Jónsson: Bestseller (by Guðbergur Bergsson)
The disappointment in society and the desire to right the wrongs is what most people have
buried inside them. That’s what makes Tómas Jónsson so relatable. A retired, cranky, and egoistic bank clerk known as Tómas Jónsson decides to write a bestseller in the form of a memoir. Tómas’s rants somewhat ridicule the memoir-obsessed society. His literary brilliance combined with a stream of consciousness journaling will leave you in awe. This compelling, beautiful mess of a novel is truly a monumental book.
6. The Endless Summer (by Madame Nielsen)
Melancholy, warmth, tenderness, and passion are the core of this novel. The clash of tragedy, love, and sexuality is a recipe that proved as a success for Madame Nielsen. The Endless Summer is a life story with ups and downs, twists and turns, just as the nature of life is. This moving book might seem like another love story but it’s more than that. The captivating narrative, impeccable style, and life-lessons that come along will make you want to read this book more than once. As Greg Chace beautifully explained in his review for The Literary Review:
“The Endless Summer invites us to partake in its vision of living “in the here and now,” with little regard for hierarchy, judgment, or shame. But it never allows us to forget that this period of seemingly infinite possibility is brief, over almost as soon as it has begun.”
- The Snowman (by Jo Nesbø)
Scandinavians do love their crime novels which is one of the reasons why The Snowman found its place on this list. Jo Nesbø is the man of many talents. He is a writer, musician, songwriter, and economist. His versatility comes in handy and his artistic soul dominates in every novel. The Snowman will give you a thrilling chase and suspense as the protagonists’ limits are tested. Follow the inspector Harry Hole in his pursuit of a twisted and mysterious killer.
True (by Riikka Pulkkinen)
Observe the three generations of women, how they experience life and deal with the unavoidable aspect of it that is death. Riikka Pulkkinen is a former athlete who takes us on an emotional journey with this book. She invites us to observe the family ties and the complexity of family relations. Publishers Weekly gave us a very good description of why this book is a must-read:
“Pulkkinen has a fine eye for description and infuses her characters with longing, but the story is familiar: a desire for a different life than the one we’ve chosen. An eloquent family saga that falls short of a revelation.”
- The Gravity of Love (by Sara Stridsberg)
The narrator of this novel is a young girl who carries the burden of having an alcoholic and suicidal father incarcerated in a mental hospital. When her mother leaves for the holiday, the Stockholm psychiatric hospital becomes her home. Suffering, change, taboos, and psychology are the threads that make this novel such an inventive work of art. This acclaimed novel will fill you with excitement and empathy for those lost souls.
Maresi (by Maria Turtschaninoff)
Maresi is a part of Maria Turtschaninoff’s The Red Abbey Chronicles that includes three books: Maresi (2014), Naondel (2016), and Red Mantle (2019). Maresi won the Finlandia Junior Prize for young adult and children’s literature in 2014. The book is exceptional and can teach us a lot about feminism. Feminist ideology is combined with symbolism and mythology which makes these books even more interesting. The story is set on an isolated island and focuses on an abbey populated solely by women. The Guardian even published an article on this book and expressed the following:
“The novel is at once contemporary and timeless. Its unwavering feminism is resolutely modern, resonating with a range of texts from Ursula Le Guin’s 2001 Tales from Earthsea to Disney’s Frozen. At the same time, it feels authentically ancient and mythic.”
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10 Modern Scandinavian Novels & Essays You Should Read – Final Thoughts
This list of great Scandinavian novels and essays can hopefully introduce you to some incredibly talented authors. There is something for everyone, whether you like stories about love, family, thrilling stories, or realistic essays. Pick the book that suits your interests and likes and dive into new worlds and adventures of interesting protagonists.
10 Modern Scandinavian Novels & Essays You Should Read, written exclusively for Daily Scandinavian by Dorian Martin. Dorian is a professional Writer, Editor and Proofreader with a keen interest in modern literature. In his spare time, Dorian enjoys reading personal development literature and writing for his personal blog.