In the wake of recent Swedish export successes in crime writing, Sweden's Minister of Trade, Ewa Björling, wants to increase exports in the Swedish creative sector, starting with literature.
Take a look at the list of the 15 most sold authors in Europe and you will find that five of them right now are Swedish (Stieg Larsson, Camilla Läckberg, Anders Roslund, Börje Hellström and Henning Mankell). Now Swedish Minister of Trade, Ewa Björling wants to increase the Swedish literary export. There’s only one snag: There aren’t enough translators. Björling’s goal is to double the total Swedish export of literature till 2015. She also wants to include music and design and believes that this, what she refers to as “the creative sector” can become an important part of Sweden's future exports.
“We must look at new sectors for export,” she says, and invites people in trade to discuss possibilities and difficulties in reaching out to other countries. Swedish literature was the topic. The topic for the next meeting is film. (Literature is of course the new ingredient in this sector, Sweden was always big on creative exports - from separators and cars, to songs, music, film and design. )
“We must listen to people in the know, and then analyze where the greatest potential lies,” says Björling, who still doesn’t know what area – literature, fashion or games - will be on the forefront when it comes to export. She is aware however, of the great interest in Swedish literature abroad – how could she not be?
“We have to keep develop the interest now that we have Stieg Larsson, this is our chance,” she says and adds that it’s now only crime but literature in general she is talking about. One problem though is the lack of qualified translators.
“It’s a long-term issue and it has to do, among other things, with the Swedish language instruction in other countries.” There’s more than a lack of translators – there’s also a lack of connections in publishing companies in many countries. One topic that was discussed, was the possibilities of the Swedish embassies to help in networking with foreign publishing companies. The upcoming Strindberg year 2010 (marking the 100th anniversary of the passing of the Swedish author), was also discussed and the possibility of arranging a seminar in New York with Swedish publishers and authors. Said Magdalena Hedlund from Norstedts Agency (a publishing company): “During my years in this business, I haven’t been to many meetings with a trade minister – so this was definitely positive!” Hedlund adds that it’s important to understand that not all Swedish authors can be exported in the spirit of Stieg Larsson. “It’s necessary not to be blinded by the sales of Swedish crime. It’s important to work for the more literary kind of literature too, and to keep a base so that bestsellers can grow,” she said.
Swedish authors - a popular export that could be even stronger if only there were enough qualified translators. From left to right: Stieg Larsson, Camilla Läckberg, Anders Roslund, Börje Hellström and Henning Mankell.