Although the 73-year-old Fredriksson has nothing in the works at the moment--"I'm waiting for a new idea to strike me"--the success of "Hanna" has generated foreign interest in her previous works. Ballantine, which brought "Hanna" to U.S. readers, also translated and released another Europe-wide bestseller by Fredriksson, "Simon's Family," late last year and is reading other earlier works, says her agent, Bengt Nordin.
Foreign triumphs, especially in the lucrative German- and English-language markets, create opportunities for other rising stars in the region, says Nordin. "When you have a star like Marianne, it's easy to attract others," he says, adding that publishers have lately been courting Scandinavians at European book fairs.
Nordin also represents two of Scandinavia's hottest crime writers: Lisa Marklund, whose fictional sleuth is a female reporter on a Stockholm newspaper, and Henning Mankell, who has had three of his eight Kurt Wallander detective novels published by New Press. Another, "The Fifth Woman," is due out in August.
Hoeg has produced four novels since "Smilla's Sense of Snow," his inaugural thriller set in Greenland that became a movie starring Julia Ormond and Gabriel Byrne. He's published nothing, however, since 1996. Even other luminaries on the Scandinavian literary circuit are unsure what the Copenhagen recluse is working on.
"He doesn't even have a phone," reports Dyssegaard, who is of Danish origin herself.
But Hoeg's out-of-nowhere success with "Smilla" did more to open the outside world's doors to Scandinavian writers than any single work for the better part of the departing century. As raw and chilling as the Arctic climate, "Smilla" brought the region's environment, ethos and emotion to foreign cultures the world over and tuned the global ear to a new Nordic voice.
Williams was recently on assignment in Oslo.