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Big increase in popularity of translated novels

1 of 1 Danish TV series such as The Killing have spurred a massive interest in Scandinavian crime-writing in translation.
Danish TV series such as The Killing have spurred a massive interest in Scandinavian crime-writing in translation.

Foreign-language fiction in translation is booming, inspired by the success of Scandinavian authors such as Jo Nesbø.

UK readers, for instance, are reading foreign fiction in translation in unprecedented numbers. Penguin Classics will shortly publish a collection of Arabic short stories, entitled Tales of the Marvellous and News of the Strange, the first time in 1,000 years that these earliest-known Arabic stories will be printed in English.

This year, Harvill Secker, a mainstream publisher is publishing authors from 18 countries, including Haruki Murakami and Jo  Nesbø, the Norwegian crime writer who has sold more than 23 million copies internationally.

Next year they will release the fourth of a six-book autobiographical series by Karl Ove Knausgård in English. In Norway alone, volume four of Knausgård's long-tailed autobiographical work has sold 450,000 copies.

Stieg Larsson's Millennium books have sold more than 75 million copies in 50 countries, while TV series like The Killing have spurred interest in crime-writing from Scandinavia.

Translations have become more mainstream, with competition for translation rights particularly keen right now.

In 2012, Hesperus Press, a small British firm, bought Jonas Jonasson's The Hundred-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out of the Window and Disappeared after major British and American companies rejected the comic novel. It went on to sell more than 500,000 copies in English.

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