Brazilian “Vikings” Bring Nordic Literature to Latin America

It was two years ago, while he was translating Sofi Oksanen’s Purge from Finnish into Portuguese, that Pasi Loman had the idea to create a literary agency specializing in Nordic literature. Loman has lived in Brazil since 2007 with his wife, Lilia Loman. The 35-year-old Finn thought his business could pioneer a new market and generate more translations.

His success exceeded even his own expectations. Since its launch at the beginning of the year, Vikings of Brazil has negotiated the sale of 22 books to Brazilian publishing houses. “It’s much more than I was expecting,” said Pasi. “I was only planning on selling five books in the first year!”

The company conquered a great deal of territory in a small period of time. It already represents some of the big Nordic publishing houses and literary agencies: Otava from Finnland; Bonnier and Grand Agency from Sweden; Gyldendal and Aschehoug from Norway; Lindhardt and Righof from Denmark; and Forlagid from Iceland. Detective novels, children books, and historical fiction are among the offers coming from the North.

Rocco, Companhia das Letras, Brinque-Book, and Autêntica are some of the Brazilian publishers that have already bought titles from Vikings of Brazil. One of their hottest titles right now is by journalist Elisabeth Asbrink. It reveals that Ikea-owner Ingvar Kamprad, one of Sweden’s most influential businessman, was heavily involved with Nazi groups in his youth. Eight Brazilian companies are evaluating the title, according to Pasi.

The agent and translator notes that the world has discovered Nordic literature after the incredible success of Stieg Larsson’s Millennium trilogy, and he points out that 2011 was great for encouraging interest in books from these countries. Last year, Iceland was the Guest of Honor at the Frankfurt Fair, Nordic literature was the main theme at the Paris Book Fair and the Nobel Prize for Literature went to the Swedish poet Tomas Tranströmer, among other things.

If translating Nordic books is perceived a problem, Pasi has an answer. In addition to himself and Lilia Loman, he’s put together a list of 60 other professionals capable of translating from Norwegian, Icelandic, Finnish, and Danish.

Now, as proper “Vikings of Brazil,” the Lomans have also begun to represent Brazilian books in the Nordic countries. They are negotiating rights for children’s-book authors such as Thalita Rebouças and Ilan Brenman, and have just signed with the German agency Anja Saile to represent writers like Cristovão Tezza, Dulce Maria Cardoso, and Ronaldo Correia de Brito. The Lomans are also working as agents for publishers Brinque-Book and Melhoramentos.

(Translated by Marcelo Barbão)

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