Nordic Seattle

Nordic Literary Series

The Nordic Seattle Literary Series will showcase authors from each of the five Nordic countries through intimate and engaging book talks at partner locations throughout Seattle. Book talks with featured authors will highlight the rich and varied literary output of the Nordic region. Participating authors include Åsne Seierstad of Norway, Åsa Avdic of Sweden, Sara Blædel of Denmark, Hallgrímur Helgason of Iceland, and Jussi Valtonen of Finland. Events will be held in late April and throughout May at Seattle Public Library, University Book Store, The Elliott Bay Book Company, and Rainier Arts Center.

April 17, 7:30pm   |   BOOK TALK WITH Åsne Seierstad

Rainier Arts Center     
3515 S Alaska St

This event has been produced in partnership with Town Hall Seattle. Tickets are $5 and available at Town Hall's website.

As headlines blur and death tolls rise, it can become difficult to maintain a human perspective on the impact of military conflict on lives of individuals and families in war-torn regions. To reconnect with this human perspective, we turn to figures such as acclaimed Norwegian journalist Åsne Seierstad, known for her deeply incisive accounts of everyday living conditions in active warzones. She takes the stage to tell the story of a family of Somali immigrants in Norway whose two teenage daughters vanish and travel to Syria to aid the Islamic State.

With excerpts from her book Two Sisters: A Father, His Daughters, and Their Journey into the Syrian Jihad, Seierstad gives an account of the sisters’ journey from secular, social democratic Norway to the front lines of the war in Syria, and follows their father’s harrowing attempt to find them. Putting the problem of radicalization into painfully human terms, Seierstad shares the realities of the Syrian civil war through the story of a father risking his life and refusing to let his daughters disappear into the maelstrom―even after they marry ISIS fighters. Join Seierstad for a sobering, true account of a family’s crisis enfolding profound lessons about belief, extremism, and the meaning of devotion.

Åsne Seierstad is an award-winning Norwegian journalist and writer known for her work as a war correspondent. She is the author of One of Us: The Story of a Massacre in Norway―and Its Aftermath, The Bookseller of Kabul, One Hundred and One Days: A Baghdad Journal, Angel of Grozny: Orphans of a Forgotten War, and With Their Backs to the World: Portraits of Serbia.

MAY 1, 7PM   |   Nordic Crime fiction WITH ÅSA AVDIC and SAra BLÆDEL


This event is cohosted by the UW Scandinavian studies department, the Swedish Club, and University Book Store.

Swedish crime author Åsa Avdic and Danish crime author Sara Blædel will read from and discuss their novels, The Dying Game and The Undertaker's Daughter (respectively). 

About Avdic and The Dying Game

"Agatha Christie meets George Orwell in journalist Avdic’s unsettling first novel, set in Sweden in 2037. A coup has led to a state of martial law and the country’s transformation into a protectorate under the aegis of an international entity known as the Union of Friendship. Anna Francis, a bureaucrat, is estranged from her family and tempted by an unusual job offer from a high official called the Chairman. The Chairman explains that the secret RAN Project is short-handed and that a psychological exercise has been devised to identify a suitable new member of the team: prospective candidates are to be transported to a remote island, along with Anna, who will pretend to have been murdered, so that she can covertly observe their reactions to the unexpected trauma. Things don’t go as planned, and Anna soon has a real murder to deal with. Avdic not only constructs a fascinating and original plot but makes her imagined reality chillingly plausible.” —Publishers Weekly, starred review 

Åsa Avdic is a trained journalist who has worked as a host for Swedish Public Service Radio and Television for many years. Avdic currently serves as a popular host for Sweden’s biggest morning current events show, Morgonstudion. The Dying Game is Avdic’s debut novel. It was published in Sweden in August 2016 and rights have been sold to 12 territories. She lives with her family in Stockholm, Sweden.


For information on Sara Blædel and The Undertaker's Daughter, see the May 2 event below!


5614 22nd Ave NW

This event is cohosted by the Seattle Public Library. It is free and open to the public.

Bestselling Danish crime author Sara Blædel will read from and discuss her latest novel, The Undertaker’s Daughter

Already widowed by the age of forty, Ilka Jensen, a school portrait photographer, leads a modest, regimented, and uneventful life in Copenhagen—until unexpected news rocks her quiet existence. Her father, who abandoned her in childhood, has suddenly died. And he’s left Ilka only one thing in his will: the funeral home he owns in Racine, Wisconsin. Clinging to this last shred of communication from the father she hasn’t heard from since childhood, Ilka makes an uncharacteristically rash decision and jumps on a plane to Wisconsin. Desperate for a connection to the parent she never really knew, she plans to visit his funeral home and go through her father’s things—hoping for some insight into his life in America—before preparing the business for a quick sale. But when she stumbles on an unsolved murder, and a killer who seems to be very much alive, Ilka realizes she might be in over her head. 

Sara Blædel is the author of the #1 international bestselling series featuring Detective Louise Rick. Her books are published in 23 countries and she has been voted Denmark's most popular novelist four times. She recently moved to New York City. Visit Sara’s website at


5614 22ND AVE NW

This event is cohosted by the Seattle Public Library. It is free and open to the public.

Icelandic author Hallgrímur Helgason will read from and discuss his book, Woman at 1,000 Degrees.  A historical novel published in 2011, Woman at 1, 000 Degrees is based on the real life of Brynhildur Georgía Björnsson, an Icelandic woman whom Helgason accidentally met over the telephone in 2006, when he was aiding his ex-wife during an election campaign, getting people to vote for the Social Democratic Party. The novel’s main character is Herra Björnsson. She lives alone in a garage, with her laptop and an old German hand grenade from WW2. She knows she is about to die, but tells us the story of her life—a difficult life that saw her in Denmark before the war, orphaned in Germany during WWII, fleeing to Argentina after the war, and from then on searching for happiness with many men in many countries. Herra’s fate has been compared to the fate of Iceland, which was a Danish colony for centuries, then became independent in 1944, but was protected by the Americans until 2006. Like Herra, Iceland never knows where to belong or whom to be with.

Hallgrímur Helgason is an Icelandic artist and author of nine novels. His most well known books are 101 Reykjavik, a slacker novel from the nineties, The Hitman's Guide to Housecleaning, a comic crime novel, and his most recent novel, Woman at 1,000 Degrees.  He can be found online at


MAY 24, 7PM   |   BOOK TALK WITH  Jussi Valtonen (with translator  kristian london)

the elliott bay book company
1521 10th Ave

This event is cohosted by The Elliott Bay Book Company. It is free and open to the public. It is cosponsored by the Finnish Literature Exchange.

Finnish author Jussi Valtonen will read from and discuss his new novel, They Know Not What They Do. A psychological novel set in the near future, They Know Not What They Do grapples with the role technology plays in our relationships, for better and worse. Joe Chayefski has what he always wanted: a reputation as one of America’s top neuroscientists, a beautiful wife and two perfect daughters. But his carefully created idyll is threatened when his Baltimore neuroscience lab is targeted by animal rights activists. And shortly after the attack, Joe receives a phone call from his ex-wife Alina in Finland, whom he abandoned along with their young son Samuel two decades earlier when he returned to America to advance his career. Now Samuel is somewhere in the States, and Alina fears he is looking for revenge. As Joe struggles to protect his new family from the increasing threat of violence—and to save his eldest daughter from the clutches of an unscrupulous tech company—he is forced to reconsider his priorities and take drastic action to save those he loves.

Jussi Valtonen is an author and psychologist from Helsinki, Finland. He was a Fulbright Scholar and studied at Johns Hopkins University. His previous works include two novels and a short story collection. He currently lives in New York City and is completing a post-doctoral fellowship at New York University.

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