Nunnally, Tiina 1952–
NUNNALLY, Tiina 1952–
PERSONAL: Born August 7, 1952, in Chicago, IL. Education: Western Washington University, B.A.; University of Wisconsin—Madison, M.A.; University of Washington, Ph.C.
ADDRESSES: Office—c/o Author Mail, Oso Books, P.O. Box 14630, Albuquerque, NM 87191. E-mail—[email protected]
CAREER: Translator and novelist.
MEMBER: PEN American Center, American Literary Translators Association, SouthWest Writers.
AWARDS, HONORS: American-Scandinavian Foundation Translation Prize, 1984, for Early Spring by Tove Ditlevsen; PEN Center USA West Translation Award, 1991, for Niels Lyhne by Jens Peter Jacobsen; Lewis Galantiére Prize, American Translators Association, 1994, for Smilla's Sense of Snow by Peter Høeg; Governor's Writers Award, State of Washington, 1996, for Maija; PEN Translation Prize, 2001, for The Cross by Sigrid Undset; Independent Foreign Fiction Prize, 2003, for The Royal Physician's Visit by Per Olof Enquist.
Maija, Fjord (Seattle, WA), 1995.
Runemaker (mystery), Fjord (Seattle, WA), 1996.
Fate of Ravens (mystery), Fjord (Seattle, WA), 1998.
(And author of introduction) Tove Ditlevsen, Early Spring (memoirs), Seal, 1985.
William Heinesen, Laterna Magica (short stories), afterword by Niels Ingwersen, Fjord (Seattle, WA), 1987.
(With Steven T. Murray) Villy Sørensen, Another Metamorphosis and Other Fictions (short stories), Fjord (Seattle, WA), 1990.
Jens Peter Jacobsen, Niels Lyhne (novel), afterword by Eric O. Johannesson, Fjord (Seattle, WA), 1990.
Herman Bang, Katinka (novel), Fjord (Seattle, WA), 1990.
(And author of afterword) Tove Ditlevsen, The Faces (novel), Fjord (Seattle, WA), 1991.
(With Steven T. Murray) Martin Andersen Nexø, Pelle the Conqueror, Volume Two: Apprenticeship (novel), afterword by Niels Ingwersen, Fjord (Seattle, WA), 1991.
Knut Hamsen, Night Roamers and Other Stories (short stories), Fjord (Seattle, WA), 1992.
(With Steven T. Murray) Jan Guillou, Enemy's Enemy (suspense novel), Farrar, Straus (New York, NY), 1993.
(And author of afterword) Jens Peter Jacobsen, Mogens: And Other Stories, Fjord (Seattle, WA), 1994.
(With Steven T. Murray) Klaus Rifbjerg, War (poems), Fjord (Seattle, WA), 1995.
(And author of notes) Sigrid Undset, The Wife, Penguin (New York, NY), 1999.
(Translated from the Norwegian) Linn Ullmann, Before You Sleep, Viking (New York, NY), 1999.
(And author of notes) Sigrid Undset, The Cross, Penguin (New York, NY), 2000.
Sigrid Undset, The Unknown Sigrid Undset: Jenny, and Other Works, Steerforth Press (South Royalton, VT), 2001.
Per Olov Enquist, The Royal Physician's Visit, Overlook Press (New York, NY), 2001.
Bjarne Reuter, The Ring of the Slave Prince, Dutton (New York, NY), 2003.
Hans Christian Andersen, Fairy Tales, Penguin (London, England), 2004, Viking (New York, NY), 2005.
Jens Andersen, Hans Christian Andersen: A Life, Overlook Press (Woodstock, NY), 2005.
Per Olov Enquist, Lewi's Journey, Overlook Press (New York, NY), 2005.
SIDELIGHTS: Tiina Nunnally is a respected translator of Scandinavian literature as well as a novelist whose work is infused with her deep knowledge of Scandinavian culture. Her credits include critically acclaimed translations of the works of celebrated nineteenth-century authors Jens Peter Jacobsen and Sigret Undset, and well as contemporary novels such as the best-selling Smilla's Sense of Snow by Peter Høeg, and two works by Per Olov Endquist. Regarding Nunnally's translation of Hans Christian Andersen's Fairy Tales, Guardian contributor Kathryn Hughes called the new version of the classic text "wonderfully apt, managing to catch [Andersen's] … lurching staccato style and his anarchic, amoral universe." Nunnally successfully removes "all those accretions of uncertain German and bad English," Hughes added, "allowing Andersen's work to finally show through in all its odd glory."
In 1995, Nunnally debuted as a novelist with Maija, a warm-hearted portrait of two immigrant Finnish sisters and their descendants. The novel opens with the death of Maija, the older sister, who spent her life teaching kindergarten after immigrating to Seattle in 1947. Tragically widowed after only five years of marriage, Maija steadfastly clung to her Finnish traditions and raised her daughter alone. At her death, her sister Leena and other family members reflect back on crucial moments in their lives when they turned to Maija for advice and support. Her quiet wisdom, compassion, and strength helped each of them to survive a crisis. Drawing on her own Finnish heritage, Nunnally told CA that Maija is "about the dignity and deeply felt influences of an ordinary life." Booklist reviewer Donna Seaman described the novel as "gentle, dignified, and full of ordinary but precious truths…. There's nothing ravishing or radical here, just a fine, old-fashioned tale about lives lived with care and conscience." In Kirkus Reviews, a contributor stated that Maija, which won a Governor 's Writers Award from the State of Washington in 1996, is "a welcome insight into Finnish culture, with plentiful shared warmth and feeling."
Nunnally's second novel, Runemaker, also makes use of the author's knowledge of Scandinavian cultures. In this mystery, Seattle translator Margit Andersson turns amateur sleuth when she discovers the murdered body of an eighty-year-old Danish fisherman, whom she had befriended. As with her previous work, Nunnally weaves history and lore into the narrative; in this case, the murder seems to be related to the famous true story of the Golden Horns, two fifth-century gold drinking horns that were stolen from the Royal Art Chamber in Copenhagen in 1802. In Runemaker, the author offers an insider's look at the world of technical translation and a glimpse into many aspects of the Scandinavian culture.
Critical reception of Nunnally's mysteries has been frequently positive. A Publishers Weekly contributor complained that Runemaker was marred by some "bland" and "awkward" writing, but approved of Andersson as a unique creation and added that "the historic background is intriguing." Referring to Maija as "a lovingly crafted family saga," Booklist contributor Donna Seaman went on to marvel at the smooth transition the author made to the mystery, praising Runemaker as "pure, unadulterated fun."
Andersson—described by Seaman as "eminently reasonable, enviably peppy, and admirably independent"—appeared again in the 1998 offering Fate of Ravens. In this story, she is asked to translate evidence found at the scene of a murder. The victim, an elderly Scandinavian woman, was pushed to her death from a balcony. Soon Andersson uncovers a web of intrigue involving former members of the Danish Resistance movement against the Nazis in World War II. A Publishers Weekly reviewer recommended the book, with some reservations: "Despite somewhat wooden dialogue and a tendency to telegraph action, Nunnally's blend of history, Scandinavian culture and action will satisfy readers interested in mysteries with unusual milieus." In Booklist, Seaman was more enthusiastic in her endorsement, declaring: "Nunnally's mysteries are warm and bracing, like a good cup of coffee…. [The author is] as instructive as she is entertaining…. Her bright and appealing sleuth could be Nancy Drew's big sister. Perfect for those who prefer their mysteries neat, clean, and clever."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Booklist, April 15, 1987; May 1, 1992; May 1, 1994, p. 1583; September 1, 1995, pp. 41-42; September 15, 1996, p. 225; April 15, 1998, p. 1390.
Guardian (Manchester, England), December 4, 2005, Kathryn Hughes, "Twice upon a Time…: You Wait Years for a Good Translation of Andersen's Fairy Tales, and Then Two Come Along at Once," p. 30.
Kirkus Reviews, June 15, 1995, p. 807; December 15, 2003, review of The Ring of the Slave Prince, p. 1454.
Kliatt, January, 2004, Paula Rohrlick, review of The Ring of the Slave Prince, p. 12.
Library Journal, May 15, 1987; October 5, 1990; February 1, 1991; September 1, 1996, p. 214.
New Republic, November 1, 1993, pp. 39-41.
Newsday, May 18, 1986.
Newsweek, September 6, 1993, p. 54.
New York Review of Books, October 22, 1992, pp. 51-55.
New York Times Book Review, May 4, 1986; May 24, 1987; March 3, 1991; September 26, 1993, p. 12.
Publishers Weekly, March 22, 1985, p. 57; February 6, 1987; June 8, 1990; October 5, 1990; January 18, 1991; April 13, 1992; March 28, 1994, p. 92; June 26, 1995, p. 104; September 2, 1996, p. 120; September 16, 1996, p. 77; April 20, 1998, p. 50.
Scandinavian Studies, spring, 2002, Sherrill Harbison, review of The Unknown Sigrid Unset, p. 108.
Seattle Times, August 17, 1986; February 17, 1991; October 3, 1993; November 26, 1995.
Time, September 13, 1993, p. 77.
Women's Review of Books, July, 1991.