Featured Translation: Borderline by Liza Marklund


There were over 450 new translations published this year, and trust us, we know from experience, keeping track of them all can be a maddening exercise. Each weekday from now until the end of the year we’ll highlight a different title that you may have missed. From short story collections to epic novels, from award winning works of the highest literary caliber to trashy romantic beach reads, we’ll feature the very best, and the very worst that 2015 had to offer, one book at a time.

Borderline by Liza Marklund / Translated from the Swedish by Neil SmithYou just keep on pushing my love over the borderline…keep pushing me…keep pushing me…

Something’s rotten in Stockholm. Someone’s murdered the ever annoying queen of pop music Madonna. The only problem? No one’s really eager to see this case get solved because everyone is too busy rejoicing over her demise. But it turns out Madge has a lucky star on her side. Just like a prayer, reporter Annika Bengtzon steps up to the plate to investigate the material girl’s murder. When Annika gets into the groove, what she discovers will cause a commotion, but will she live to tell the secret she’s learned?

Wait. No. Shit! Borderline isn’t about Madonna. It’s about a murder at a nursery school. It’s about a serial killer who likes to stab young mothers in the back. It’s full of international politics, infidelity, and kidnapping. It’s full outrage and atrocity:

Nine hundred and thirty-seven thousand people, most of them Tutsis, had been murdered by the Hutu militia between 6 April and early July in 1994. Most had been killed with machetes. Rape was the rule rather than the exception. Up to half a million women and girls (some extremely young) were violated during the conflict, and not just by the militia. Forcing family members to rape each other was part of the militia’s campaign of terror. For this reason, neighbours would often swap places with each other at night so that the girls would at least escape being raped by their own fathers and brothers (a Google search for rwanda forced incest produced over 5.6 million results). Family members were also compelled to eat each other (so-called forced cannibalism, which, with the additional search-word rwanda, produced 2.7 million hits). Amputations were common, not just hands, feet, arms and legs: breasts and penises were sliced off, the walls of vaginas cut out, pregnant women split open. Raped women were impaled on spikes until they bled to death.

Yikes! Marklund is considered to be the Queen of Scandinavian Crime fiction right now and her Annika Bengtzon novels have been turned into a series of six feature films, all of which are currently streaming on Netflix for your murderous enjoyment. Borderline is the seventh(?) novel in the series, but it’s as good a place to start as any. It’s gritty, it’s rooted in current day events, and it will disturb you.

You can check out the trailer for the movie series here. For more on Marklund and her novels check out her offical website by clicking here.

Borderline was translated from the Swedish by Neil Smith and was published in April by Atria Books.

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About Aaron Westerman

Aaron Westerman is the Manager of Web Architecture for a national human services organization. When he's not busy tearing sites apart and rebuilding them, he spends his ever shrinking free time trying to keep up with his twins, reading works of translated literature, and watching far too many Oscar nominated movies.