50th anniversary of the Nordic Council Literature Prize

Half-a-century has passed since the first nominations for the Nordic Council Literature Prize were announced. Since then fifty Nordic authors have received the award - 8 Finns, 9 Norwegians, 9 Danes, 15 Swedes, 6 Icelanders, 2 Faroese residents and one Sami. Several of the authors are known to Latvian readers as well, and a number of the Nordic Council Literature Prize laureates have visited Latvia.

The Nordic Council of Ministers’ Office in Latvia is a frequent organizer of literary events where the audience is invited to meet Nordic writers, including a couple of the Literature Prize laureates: Per Olov Enquist, Dorrit Willumsen, etc. This year the honoured guest will be Sofi Oksanen – a Finnish writer of Estonian descent who in 2010 received the Nordic Council Literature Prize for the novel “Purge” (Puhdistus). The novel has been published in Latvian by the printing house “Jumava”.

The Nordic Council of Ministers’ Office in Latvia invites to a literary evening with the Finnish writer Sofi Oksanen, winner of the Nordic Council Literature Prize 2010, on Friday, 4 March, 18.00. Conversation will be held in Finnish and translated into Latvian by translator Maima Grinberga.
To celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Nordic Council Literature Prize the Nordic Council of Ministers’ Office in Latvia will host a travelling exhibition some time in autumn. In the course of the anniversary year meetings with other Literature Prize laureates are expected to take place as well.

 

 

Acclaimed Nordic literature translated into Latvian 

The first to receive the Nordic Council Literature Prize in 1962 was a Swedish author Eyvind Johnson for his novella “The Days of His Grace”. The novella has not been translated into Latvian but three other works by E. Johnson have been included into antology “Swedish novellas” (translated by Elija Kliene, published by “Liesma” in 1968). Several of the author’s works have been published in Latvian by the publishing house “Daugava” in exile.  

Another Swedish writer who has been awarded the Nordic Council Literature Prize, Per Olov Enquist, is very well known in Latvia. So far as many as five of his literary works have been translated into Latvian, and the writer himself has visited Latvia a number of times. P. O. Enquist received the Nordic Council Literature Prize in 1969 for his novel “Legionnaires”, (translated by Argita Daudze, published by “Liesma” in 1993). Other novels by P. O. Enquist which are available in Latvian: “The Magnetist’s Fifth Winter” (translated by Solveiga Elsberga, published by “Liesma” in 1980), “The Visit of the Royal Physician” (translated by Solveiga Elsberga, published by “Atēna” in 2002), “Captain Nemo’s Library” (translated by Dace Deniņa, published by “Atēna” in 2004), and “The Book about Blanche and Marie” (translated by Dace Deniņa, published by “Atēna” in 2006).                 

In 1974 the Nordic Council Literature Prize went to the Danish author Villy Sørensen for his work “Without an Aim – and with”. Latvian readers can acquaint with the author through his book “Ragnarök” (translated by Egita Dardeta, published by „Atēna” in 2004).  

One of the most talented contemporary Norwegian writers, Herbjørg Wassmo, received the Nordic Council Literature Prize in 1987 for her novel “Bare Sky”. Latvian readers are well-acquainted with the Dina trilogy – “Dina’s Book” (translated by Raita Kozlovska, published by “Zvaigzne ABC” in 1999, 2003 and 2010), “Dina’s Son” (translated by Raita Kozlovska and Guntis Ancens, published by “Zvaigzne ABC” in 2002) and “Karna’s Legacy” (translated by Raita Kozlovska and Guntis Ancens, published by “Zvaigzne ABC” in 2003) as well as the novels “The Seventh Meeting” (translated by Raita Kozlovska and Guntis Ancens, published by “Zvaigzne ABC” in 2005)  and “Escape from Frank” (translated by Raita Kozlovska, published by “Zvaigzne ABC” in 2006).       

In 1990 the Nordic Council Literature Prize was received by the Swedish poet Tomas Tranströmer for his collection “For the Living and the Dead”. Tomas Tranströmer is the most renowned and acclaimed Swedish poet internationally, whose works have been translated into 50 languages, including Latvian.     

Danish author Dorrit Willumsen has received several prestigious literary awards, including  the Nordic Council Literature Prize in 1997 for her novel “Bang”, which depicts the dramatic life of a homosexual Danish writer Herman Bang at the turn of the 19th-20th centuries.  
“Marie; a novel about the life of Madame Tussaud” by Dorrit Willumsen is her most widely translated work. In Latvian it appeared in 2001, translated by Dace Deniņa and published by “Atēna”. Latvian readers can also enjoy such novels as “Cat’s Holidays” (translated by Dace Deniņa, published by “Atēna” in 2001) and “Kora’s Voice” (translated by Dace Deniņa, published by “Atēna” in 2007).   

In 1999 the Nordic Council Literature Prize was awarded to Danish poet Pia Tafdrup for the collection “Queen’s Gate”. The poems were translated into Latvian by Olga Lisovska and published by “Tapals” in 2001.     

Another Norwegian writer Lars Saabye Christensen received the Nordic Council Literature Prize in 2002 for the novel “The Half-Brother”. In 2005 the publishing house “Zvaigzne ABC” issued two of the writer’s novels in Latvian – “The Half-Brother” (translated by Solveiga Elsberga) and “The Figwort Family” (translated by Agnese Mortukāne).    

In 2009 the Nordic Council Literature Prize was received by Norwegian writer Per Pettersson for the selection of works “I Curse the River of Time”. Latvian public can meanwhile read his novel “Out Stealing Horses”, translated by Solveiga Elsberga and issued in 2010 by the publishing house “Zvaigzne ABC”.   
The Nordic Council Literature Prize has been awarded since 1962; its current worth amounts to 350 000 Danish kroner (DKK).