Nordic authors to San Francisco on May 2-4

The Society for the Advancement of Scandinavian Study  will feature a series on contemporary literature of the North on their annual meeting. The conference will be held in  San Francisco on May 2-4. All events are free and open to the public!

Five prominent and prize-winning authors from the Five Nordic countries will come to San Francisco to read and discuss their work, inviting audience discussion. The authors will also participate in a roundtable discussion on the current state of Nordic literature.

  • Steve Sem-Sandberg of Sweden broke on the English-speaking literary scene with the translation of his extraordinary historical novel The Emperor of Lies, an account of the life in the Jewish ghetto of Lodz during WWII. The novel is based on the journals of ghetto residents and other documentary materials, but is a work of extreme imagination as well. Sem-Sandberg has devoted his recent fiction to explorations of the Holocaust and the Red Brigade. Dedicated to the investigative processes of evidence-gathering that are essential to the historiographical enterprise, Sem-Sandberg goes further into the realm of the unsaid, implied, and unimaginable. 

    Steve Sem-Sandberg will appear in conversation with Professor Ulf Olsson on Friday, May 3rd, 11:30-1pm, and he will participate in the roundtable discussion on Saturday, May 4th at 1:30-3pm.


  • Naja Marie Aidt was born in Greenland, grew up in Copenhagen, and and lives today in Brooklyn.  She has published across a broad range of genres, including drama, short stories, children’s books, choral songs, a film script, and a novel, Sten saks papir (Rock scissors paper, 2012). The dramatic shifts of location in her own life have led to a concern with exile and isolation, and she is a keen observer of the tensions and intensity of modern relationships, both intimate and familial. 

    Naja Marie Aidt will appear in conversation with Professor Karin Sanders on Friday, May 3rd, 9:45-11:15, and she will participate in the roundtable discussion on Saturday, May 4th at 1:30-3pm.


  • Rosa Liksom of Finland has worked in a plethora of genres – film, theater, poetry, novels, short stories, comics, children’s books, paintings, performance art – anything requiring imagination, creativity, and communication.  Her “Burkha Project” features burkha-clad women performing everyday Finnish tasks in a snowy landscape, the blue burkhas against the white snow reflecting Finland’s national colors ( Provocative and sly, Liksom’s work poses questions about Finland’s situation and the situation of women in an increasingly global society. 

    Rosa Liksom will appear in conversation with Professor Andrew Nestingen on Saturday, May 4th, 10:30-12.  She will also participate in the roundtable discussion that same day at 1:30-3pm.


  • Hanne Ørstavik hails from the far north of Norway and ascended with great rapidity to her rank as one of Norway’s most important contemporary authors in the wake of the publication of her novel Kjærlighet (Love) in 1997. Love forms part of a family trilogy in which the author investigates, among other things, the failure of parental responsibility that ends with devastating results. She has won important national prizes, such as the Brage Prize for the 2004 novel Presten (The Priest) and attracted the attention of many literary scholars. 

    Hanne Ørstavik will appear in conversation with Professor Jan Sjåvik on Friday, May 3rd at 4-5:30pm,
    and she will participate in the roundtable discussion on Saturday, May 4th at 1:30-3pm.


  • Sjón of Iceland weaves a fictional form in his novels reminiscent of the sagas, a kind of magical realism redolent with Icelandic folk belief and history, both ”actual” and mythological.  Making the unforgiving and beautiful landscape of Iceland his base, he examines the lives and fortunes of a people living at the edge. In addition to his novels, Sjón has worked in poetry, films, and music, most notably as Johnny Triumph with the Sugarcubes (on air guitar) and as a collaborator with Björk and Lars von Trier. 

    Sjón will appear in conversation with Vendela Vida, novelist and editor of the Believer Magazine, on Friday, May 3rd at 2-3:30pm, and he will participate in the roundtable discussion on Saturday, May 4th at 1:30-3pm.

WHEN: May 2-4, 2013 

WHERE: The Grand Ballroom at the Hilton San Francisco Financial District, 750 Kearny Street. 

: Please pre-register for the free events via the conference website:

For more information: