Welcome dear readers,
Even though I was born and raised in Canada, my Norwegian grandfather taught me to be proud of my Scandinavian heritage (I am also Swedish). My grandfather was a great oral storyteller–my mom and I always begged him to write his stories down or record them, but he never did. I like to think my writing talent came from him.
We had other things in common, too–a love of athletics, a nuisance involuntary tremor that is more noticeable in times of stress or exertion, and wavy hair (though his was much wavier than mine). Grandpa was the only person in the family who thought I walked on water. During my all-too-infrequent visits (he lived hundreds of miles away), he filled his trailer with bowls of candy. He promised to buy me a car the second I turned sixteen. He introduced me to classical music, and to this day, I cannot see a symphony concert without thinking of him and feeling misty-eyed. Unfortunately, he passed away when I was nine years old, and I often wish I could have known him as an adult. He was a brilliant and opinionated man.
Though he anglicized his last name when he moved to Canada, Grandpa never lost his love for his home country. From the time I was a little girl, I desperately wanted to visit Scandinavia and meet the other side of my family. I became pen pals with a Swedish cousin, and she sent me gorgeous photos of fjords and the midnight sun. Scandinavia seemed like paradise, and I even loved the traditional food–pickled herring and potato crepes included.
In the past few years, the entire world has started to take notice of the creative powerhouse that is Scandinavia. Swedish writer Stieg Larsson took the world by storm with his Millennium trilogy (unfortunately, he didn’t live long enough to see it). After years of Hollywood schlock that tried and failed to live up to The Sixth Sense, Norwegian and Swedish horror movies are a breath of fresh (albeit gory) air. Try Let The Right One In or Cold Prey if you want to see a good scary movie for a change.
I recently interviewed a book store owner about hot books for Christmas, and he couldn’t say enough about Icelandic author Arnaldur Indriðason and Finnish writer Harri Nykänen. He raved about the high quality of their crime fiction. I can’t say I was surprised.
After years of being force fed the same old crap by publishers and producers who are afraid to take risks, Scandinavian books and movies are a treasure trove of originality and creativity. I’m especially proud of my fellow Vikings, and I know my Grandpa would be, too.
I know I have some Scandinavian blog readers, so I’d love it if they’d weigh in on why there’s so much creative material originating from their countries. Or–have you read a Scandi book or watched a Scandi movie lately? What’s your take?