If you’re a connoisseur of fine Scandinavian crime fiction, 2011 has given you plenty more to enjoy. Back in March, for instance, genre forefather Henning Mankell wrapped up his wildly-popular Kurt Wallander series with The Troubled Man, and a mere two months later rising star Jo Nesbo’s The Snowman finally hit U.S. shores. Now with Hollywood’s take on The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo hitting theaters in just a few short days, crime fiction lovers are likely giddy with their good fortune. But what if you’re not a fan? What if you’ve yet to acquire that particular taste for dark Nordic mysteries? Well worry not, gentle reader, for there’s more than one dish cooking in Scandinavia’s literary kitchen. Truth be told, the Scandinavian lit scene is a veritable smorgasbord of top-notch sci-fi, satire, historical and literary fiction, horror, and more. So don’t delay in sampling Scandinavia’s full fiction menu. The following list will get you started, but there is still plenty more to discover.
Gary Shteyngart isn’t considered one of America’s best young novelists for nothing. Born in Leningrad in 1972, the long-time New Yorker’s picaresque debut The Russian Debutante’s Handbook won the Stephen Crane First Fiction Award in 2002, and his riotous follow-up Absurdistan was named one of the best books of 2006 by the NY Times, the Chicago Tribune, and Time. Last summer, Mr. Shteyngart published his much-anticipated third novel Super Sad True Love Story to rave reviews with Publishers Weekly proclaiming it his best book yet. A funny and frightening vision of an all-too-plausible future, Super Sad tells the tale of 39-year-old Lenny Abramov, a hapless romantic obsessed with living forever, his books, and 20-something Korean-American Eunice Park. Though America is mired in debt to China, ruled by the Bipartisan Party, and consumed by superficial social media, an undeterred Lenny vows to love Eunice and show her “there is still value in being a real human being.” Named a 2010 NY Times Notable Book, Super Sad is proof positive of author David Mitchell’s view that “the American novel is safe in Gary Shteyngart’s gifted hands.” Mr. Shteyngart recently took a brief break from his busy touring schedule to speak with us about Super Sad and what he’s working on next.