Tag Archives: Tonårsboken

Poetry and death; the Norwegian way

Kva tåler så lite at det knuser om du seier namnet på det?

Quite. I’m not even a hundred percent sure I will be able to tell you what it means. But I think that something like What Is So Brittle That It Breaks If You Say It Out Loud? will do. This short novel – novella, really – by Bjørn Sortland is my Norwegian offering for my foreign reading challenge.

Kva tåler så lite at det knuser om du seier namnet på det?

I had read about it on the blog Tonårsboken, where they really, really loved it, and then when I was asking for suggestions it popped up again. Now, Norwegians are different. You look Bjørn up on the internet and you get not just his books and stuff, but his address and phone number as well. (Just don’t all call him today, OK?) So I asked how I could get hold of his book, and luckily he didn’t tell me to buy it, but sorted me out with a contact.

What I didn’t know was that I’d let myself in for reading the ‘other’ kind of Norwegian, called nynorsk. But you get used to it after a bit. What is actually funny – well, I think so – is that this language which is supposed to be so very Norwegian that it doesn’t use the standard international words that you find in most western languages, now has modern imports like google and showoff and even utrendy (untrendy). And ‘whatever’.

As I said, it’s very short. It’s almost a poem, with very little text on each page, and it reads beautifully.

19-year-old Markus meets a bald girl at a party and falls instantly in love. He’s not used to wooing girls, and Ingrid strikes him as older than him. She is. She is also dying. After a few false starts they get together. Sort of. Markus is scared of talking about her cancer, while desperately wanting Ingrid to say she loves him.

Because this is so short and tender, there is little point in saying much more about the plot. Whether it’s typically Norwegian I can’t say. It feels Nordic, to me. The characters are more independent than their British or American counterparts. And perhaps more naïve and innocent.

You’ll want to cry at the end.

Luckily I turned back to page one at that point, and was able to laugh as Markus tries to avoid speaking to someone at the party. “I need to powder my nose’ he says, as he leaves.

A post-Christmas bite

It seems as if Booktrust might be safe after all. Let’s hope so. We’ve had a lot of things being said about our wise government’s removal of the funding from Booktrust, including a piece in the Observer by Catherine Johnson. It was an unusually fast U-turn, and over Christmas, too. (Or Critmas as the Grauniad called it.)

If Booktrust are allowed to continue their good job, we just might end up with more young people like the two young ladies of Swedish blog Tonårsboken. I have mentioned them before, because they read so much and write so well about it, and when translations aren’t forthcoming, they read in English.

For their end-of-year posts they have listed favourites from 2010. A Little Love Song by Michelle Magorian was the best foreign language book.

Tonårsboken 1

And they are very impatient over the lack of translation of The Bride’s Farewell by Meg Rosoff. It appears that if Meg keeps on like this she is in danger of becoming one of their favourite authors.

Tonårsboken 2

And while I was busy taking screen caps of blogs I happened to find this

From Sara Paretsky's blog

which sort of made an old and wrinkly turnip witch blush a little. But compared to the Bag Lady and her newborn calf, I have nothing interesting to offer, so do go and have a peep at her seasonally confused calf.

Bookwitch bites #20

Lots of new books this week, just ready to take on holiday. (It’s good for you. See below for proof.)  I am not managing to keep pace with Lucy Coats and her Greek Beasts, the last four of which are now out for your enjoyment. And Mary Hoffman’s Troubadour is out in paperback. The second book in Alex Scarrow’s TimeRiders series called Day of the Predator has just been published, but I’m afraid I’ve not had time to read it. Story of my life.

I may be away from it all, but I’m still capable of discovering the odd gold nugget. As I turned to the really quite excellent teen blog Tonårsboken the other day, I noticed they’ve branched out and are doing interviews. Well, one anyway. They liked Rachel Ward’s Numbers so much that they emailed her with some questions ‘in impeccable English’ according to Rachel. And within 24 hours they had her answers translated and published. In times when far too many bloggers blog quite boringly and badly, it’s great to see two 15-year-olds do so much and to do it so well.

It looks like Nick Green has finished revamping his website. I notice he’s used my excellent photo again. It’s from Bolton two years ago. I really will have to set Daughter on him to come up with something new. But I’m glad he likes the picture enough to recycle it. (My bill’s in the post, Mr Green.)

In a New York Times blog Tara Parker-Pope writes about the importance of reading. It’s good to know that you can measure the advances gained in reading by just making sure children have one book to read over the summer holidays. And her argument is back to the old idea that to read anything at all is better than to read nothing. Even if it’s about Hannah Montana.