Top 10 modern Nordic books | Books

With the cold wave of Nordic literature crashing on UK shores over recent years and Danish, Swedish, Greenlandic, Finnish, Norwegian and Icelandic authors coming to the Southbank Centre in London this month for talks and readings, I am glad to suggest 10 books for those who want to prepare themselves.

Some of the authors I choose here will be appearing at the Southbank Centre and some are featured in the anthology that I have edited with Ted Hodgkinson, The Dark Blue Winter Overcoat and Other Stories from the North. Others are to be found at all hours of day and night in their books.

Never in history have so many diverse books from the north been translated, and in the last five years in the UK and the USA the list has been growing. This can be seen in the success of contemporary authors such as Karl Ove Knausgaard and Sofi Oksanen, of crime novelists such as Arnaldur Indriðason and Henning Mankell. And then we have the old guard: Strindberg, Ibsen, Hamsun, Lagerlöf, Blixen/Dinesen and the Sagas, to provide us with an impeccable pedigree.

While working on the the anthology, I was more than ever convinced that the literatures of the region have more in common that not. The dry wit, the willingness to dwell in melancholia and look at the world through its blue-tinted glasses, the social criticism that comes with bringing to light the stories of the marginalised, the exploration of style and form as integral part of diving into any given theme, the deep-felt belief in literature’s role in keeping our societies humane.

The books I’ve chosen here have all been recently published in English or are about to be. There should be something here for every boreal-minded reader to cherish in the coming winter.

1. Tómas Jónsson, Bestseller by Guðbergur Bergsson (translated by Lytton Smith)
Bergsson is the grand old man of Icelandic literature and this is the novel every Icelandic author must love and resist. Written in 1966, when biographies of turn-of-the-century greats were dominating the bestseller lists in Iceland, the novel pretends to be the autobiographical musings of its ageing protagonist. Having nothing to his name but the fact that he is descended from Vikings, and the small flat where he lives in one room, renting the rest out to lodgers, Tómas does his best to prove worthy of a book of his own. Only recently translated into English, it is a fabulous feast of wilting light, with a whiff of Beckett’s Unnamable’s underpants.

2. Novel 11, Book 18 by Dag Solstad (translated by Sverre Lyngstad)
If there is a motto to the books I have read by Solstad, it is: “We are born to embarrass ourselves before our destruction.” Here we follow the slow but sure decline of one Bjørn Hansen who leaves his wife and infant son for life in a small town where he becomes involved in amateur theatre, with all its petty in-fighting and jealousy. When his son turns up 18 years later, things take a darker turn.

3. The Endless Summer by Madame Nielsen (translated by Gaye Kynoch)
At once the foremost stylist of contemporary Danish literature and the most provocative one, Nielsen shocked readers with the sudden beauty and tenderness of this novel. The reader is swept away by the flow of the narrative, the warmth and wit of a storyteller who presents modern tales of destiny with a fearless presentation of the bittersweet melancholy of existence.

4. Not Before Sundown by Johanna Sinisalo (translated by Herbert Lomas)
This is a beautifully constructed fable for our times, where Sinisalo addresses humanity’s changing relationship with nature. So, if you have been waiting to discover a novel about a young and lovesick photographer named Angel who finds and takes in a catlike, feral troll kid, this is your book. But it is far from whimsical, and a subplot about a Filipino mail-order bride kept locked up in one of the flats of Angel’s building poses questions about our human to human relationships as well.

Tomas Tranströmer.



Speaking to all times … Tomas Tranströmer. Photograph: Scanpix Sweden/Reuters

5. New Collected Poems by Tomas Tranströmer (translated by Robin Fulton)
A collective cheer could be heard from the north when this Swedish poet was awarded the Nobel prize in 2011. He was the first Nordic laureate in decades and the one we all hoped for. His poems are never sentimental but always full of emotion, never sweet but always beautiful — always rich in images while appearing minimal, always of their time while speaking to all times and the people at their mercy.

6. Crimson by Niviaq Korneliussen (translated by Anna Halager)
Korneliussen’s novel tells the story of a group of friends living in modern-day Nuuk, Greenland’s capital city of 18,000 inhabitants. Like young people anywhere, they are grappling with coming of age in world they never made, discovering their sexual identities and futures. Told in emails, messages, journals, short stories, it transports us to a cold homeland where the blood runs hot.

7. Mirror, Shoulder, Signal by Dorthe Nors (translated by Misha Hoekstra)
Nors’s minimalist, experimental stories read as if they were thorough reports on the complexity behind the everyday situations men and especially women find themselves in. She is a master of the undercurrent, and the simplicity of her sentences makes them magnets for the reader’s own contribution to the reading experience. We can’t help mirroring ourselves in the characters, matching our own attempts at making sense of what has brought us to the moment of truth in similar situations.

8. The Tower at the Edge of the World by William Heinesen (translated by W Glyn Jones)
Heinesen is the last of the 20th-century masters of Nordic letters still to be discovered by a global readership. A match with Iceland’s Halldór Laxness, Denmark’s Karen Blixen and Norway’s Knut Hamsun, he was the one who wrote from the smallest of the northern worlds, the tiny community of Tórshavn in the Faroe Islands. I use every opportunity I get to bang the drum for his books. Now his poetic evocation of life on an island that to the vast ocean is “just about the same as a grain of sand to the floor of a dance hall” is being published in a new English translation. I hope some readers of these words will follow him there.

9. The Gravity of Love by Sara Stridsberg (translated by Deborah Bragan-Turner)
This novel’s protagonist is the daughter of a suicidal alcoholic living in a deteriorating mental hospital. If one believes, as I do, that investigating the harshest things in life through the literary use of language – where vulnerability and cruelty, confusion and determination, are described with equal precision – is one of our main tools to keep ourselves grounded and humane, then Stridsberg’s story is vital reading.

10. Inside Voices, Outside Light by Sigurður Pálsson (translated by Martin Regal)
Inspired by the dark surrealism of the Atom Poets – the group of modernists who broke Icelandic literature out of the confines of tradition in the years after the second world war – Pálsson’s poetic world is at once highly lyrical and playful. Everyday life inspires contemplations of the tragic optimism of the human being; for at the core of man’s many balancing acts – dancing, slapstick routines, staying in love, keeping the head high – there is always the threat of destruction, and the only antidote to our awareness of our fatality is poetry as it was practised by Pálsson.

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Kim Wall murder: police find head of Swedish journalist | World news

Danish police investigating the murder of the Swedish journalist Kim Wall have found body parts, including her severed head.

The freelance journalist was last seen alive on 10 August when she went to interview the inventor Peter Madsen, who has been charged with her murder. Wall’s dismembered torso washed ashore 12 days after she boarded Madsen’s homemade submarine for the interview.

The police investigator Jens Møller Jensen said divers had found Wall’s head and legs, as well as her clothes and a knife, in plastic bags with “heavy metal pieces” to make them sink.

Kim Wall.



Kim Wall. Photograph: Tom Wall/AFP/Getty Images

“Yesterday morning we found a bag within which we found Kim Wall’s clothes, underwear, stockings and shoes. In the same bag laid a knife, and there were some car pipes to weigh the bag down,” he said on Saturday.

A postmortem examination confirmed that the head was Wall’s and that it showed “no sign of fracture” or “any sign of other blunt violence to the skull”, he said.

The body parts were found on Friday near where her naked torso was found on 22 August, near the coast of Copenhagen. Wall’s arms are still missing. The cause of death has yet to be established.

Madsen, 46, maintains that Wall died after being accidentally hit on the head by a heavy hatch in the submarine, but a Copenhagen court heard there were 15 stab wounds on her body.

A fund set up in memory of the award-winning journalist has raised more than $90,000 (£69,000) of its $100,000 target since being launched by her friends and family. It would be used to provide grants to female reporters to pursue subculture stories, according to the Remembering Kim Wall website.

Wall, who had written for the Guardian and the New York Times, was reported missing by her boyfriend in the early hours of 11 August when she failed to return from her interview.

When the submarine was found, Madsen was rescued just before the vessel sank, and later arrested.

He initially claimed he had dropped her off safely in Copenhagen but later said there had been a “terrible accident” and he had buried her at sea, insisting her body was intact at the time.

Peter Madsen with his submarine.



Peter Madsen with his submarine. Photograph: Hougaard Niels/AP

A court has heard that footage of women being strangled and decapitated was found on a hard drive believed to belong to the inventor.

His lawyer, Betina Hald Engmark, told Reuters she had been informed that further body parts and clothes had been found, but declined to comment further.

Madsen will appear in court again on 31 October.

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Kim Wall ‘stabbed 15 times’ onboard Danish inventor’s submarine | World news

The suspected killer of Swedish journalist Kim Wall will be detained for four more weeks after a Copenhagen court heard that 15 stab wounds had been found on her body.

Peter Madsen, 46, is charged with murdering the 30-year-old journalist, whose headless, dismembered torso was found floating off Denmark’s capital city 10 days after she boarded the inventor’s self-built submarine for an interview.

Prosecutor Jakob Buch-Jepsen told the court that cause of death had not yet been formally established, but that the multiple knife wounds had been inflicted “at the time of death or shortly afterwards”.

Traces of Madsen’s DNA had also been also recovered from Wall’s body, as well as traces of a saw blade consistent with the removal of her head and limbs after her death, Buch-Jepsen said. An examination of Madsen’s computer had also uncovered material featuring women being tortured and killed.

Madsen, who denies killing Wall, took part in the half-hour custody hearing with his lawyer via a video link from Copenhagen’s Vestre prison. He said he was “not the only person” with access to the computer in his workshop, and the extreme content did not belong to him.

His defence lawyer, Betina Hald Engmark, said the court had heard “nothing that supports Kim Wall being killed by my client”. No investigations had been carried out to substantiate Madsen’s claim that the journalist died in an accident and that her body was still intact when he disposed of it at sea, she said.

Madsen told a hearing last month that the journalist died when a 70kg hatch cover fell on her head while she was climbing on to the deck of the surfaced submarine. “It was a terrible accident, a disaster,” he said.

Feeling “suicidal”, he attached a metal weight around her waist so her body would sink, and planned to sink his submarine, taking his own life. “In my shock I thought it was the right thing to do,” he told the court.

Wall, who had written for the Guardian and New York Times, was last seen alive on the Nautilus, on 10 August. After her boyfriend reported her missing, the 18-metre submarine was located south of Copenhagen the following morning.

Madsen, an entrepreneur, artist, submarine builder and self-taught aerospace engineer, was rescued just before the Nautilus sank, and arrested. He will appear in court again on 31 October.

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Danish inventor faces murder charge over journalist’s submarine death | World news

A Danish inventor faces a charge of murder over the death of the Swedish journalist Kim Wall, whose headless body was found last month floating in the waters off Copenhagen.

Peter Madsen, 46, who denies killing Wall, told a pre-trial custody hearing in the Danish capital on Tuesday that the journalist, who had boarded his self-built submarine for an interview, died when a heavy hatch cover fell on her.

He said he had climbed out ahead of Wall and was standing on top of the surfaced submarine holding the 70kg hatch cover open, but lost his footing and it hit her head. He said he heard a thud as she fell to the floor bleeding from a fractured skull.

“It was a terrible accident, a disaster, no doctor could have done anything,” he told the court. “Kim was severely injured. There was a pool of blood where she landed. I touched her neck, but she had no pulse.”

After hearing defence and prosecution arguments, the judge Anette Burkø ordered Madsen to be detained for four more weeks. “I find there is reasonable suspicion that the detainee is guilty of murder,” the judge said.

Madsen, who has been in custody since 12 August on the lesser charge of negligent manslaughter, will appeal against the decision and has declined to submit to a voluntary psychiatric examination, his lawyer said.

The court heard statements about Madsen’s alleged taste for violent pornography and sadomasochistic sex, including claims that he had had sex with several women on board the submarine.

Madsen told the court he felt “suicidal” after Wall’s death. He said he had wanted to bury her at sea, attaching a metal weight around her waist so her body would sink, and planned to sink his submarine, taking his own life.

“In my shock I thought it was the right thing to do,” he said. “I didn’t want a dead body in my submarine. I put a rope around her feet to drag her out. I thought a fitting end for Peter Madsen would be on board the Nautilus. I decided I couldn’t continue the life I had been living.”

He had no explanation for Wall’s severed head and limbs, saying she was “in one piece” when he last saw her body. Asked by the prosecutor Jakob Buch-Jepsen whether he had ever carried a saw on the vessel, he said he had, but there was none on board on the day he took Wall for their short sea voyage.

Wall, 30, a respected freelance journalist based in New York and China who had written for the Guardian, the New York Times and others, was last seen alive on the Nautilus on 10 August. Her boyfriend reported her missing that evening.

Police and coastguard located the 60ft (18 metre) UC3 Nautilus – the largest self-built submarine ever made when it was launched in 2008 – in Køge Bay, about 30 miles south of Copenhagen, the following morning.

Madsen, a self-taught engineer with cult status in Denmark, was rescued by a private boat soon afterwards, just before the submarine sank. He initially told his rescuers he had got into difficulties trying to repair a problem with the ballast tank.

Investigators have said traces of Wall’s blood, DNA-matched against her hairbrush and toothbrush, were found inside the refloated submarine. Buch-Jepsen told the court a pair of women’s underpants and tights were found in the engine room.

After first telling police he had dropped Wall off on dry land on the city outskirts once the interview was over, Madsen said 24 hours later she had died in an accident. He told the court her clothing had come off when he threw her body overboard.

The charge against him was extended on 21 August to include “improper interference with a corpse” after Wall’s torso – identified by further DNA tests – was found washed up on the coast of Copenhagen’s Amager island.

Police have said the body had been stabbed multiple times, apparently in an attempt to ensure a buildup of air would not lead to it floating to the surface, and that metal piping had been attached to it to make it sink.

An entrepreneur, artist, submarine builder and aerospace engineer, Madsen has also successfully launched rockets in the hope of developing private space travel.

In 2015 he sent a text message to two volunteer members of his team saying there was a curse on Nautilus. “That curse is me,” the message said. “There will never be peace on Nautilus as long as I exist.”

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Denmark and Sweden boost defence ties to fight Russian cyber-attacks | World news

Denmark and Sweden are to boost defence cooperation to counter what they described as a growing threat from Russia, including from “dangerous” fake news campaigns and cyber-attacks, the two countries’ defence ministers have said.

Peter Hultqvist of Sweden and Claus Hjort Frederiksen of Denmark said in a statement before a meeting in Stockholm that Russian hybrid warfare – cyber-attacks, disinformation and fake news – could create uncertainty.

When nations “cannot clearly distinguish false news and disinformation from what is true, we become increasingly unsafe”, the ministers said, adding: “We have both been exposed to forms [of this] and want to better defend our societies in this area.”

This year Stockholm’s Institute of International Affairs accused Russia of using fake news, false documents and disinformation in a coordinated campaign to influence public opinion and decision-making in Sweden.

The study said Sweden had been the target of “a wide array of active measures” including misleading reports on Russian state-run news networks and websites, forged documents, fabricated news items and “troll armies”.

Moscow’s main aim was to “preserve the geo-strategic status quo” by minimising Nato’s role in the wider Baltic region and keeping Sweden out of the international military alliance, the study said.

Hultqvist and Frederiksen said the two countries would also increase more traditional forms of military cooperation, citing the increased presence of Russian naval vessels in the Baltic and airspace violations by Russian military aircraft.

“We already have good cooperation with Sweden and the other Nordic countries, but believe we can expand this more,” Frederiksen said. “We need to stand together when we have an unreasonable Russia moving into the Crimea and building up in our immediate neighbourhood.”

Joint exercises and more cross-border exchanges of military and intelligence expertise would follow, he added.

In January, after accusations that Russian hackers had interfered with the US presidential election, Sweden’s prime minister, Stefan Löfven, told a national defence conference that he could not rule out Russia trying to influence the next Swedish elections, due in 2018.

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Amateur submariner arrested over Swedish journalist’s disappearance | World news

A judge will decide whether an amateur submarine maker should be held in custody over the disappearance of a Swedish woman who had been onboard his vessel before it sank off Denmark’s east coast.

Peter Madsen, a Danish inventor whose crowdfunded submarine sank near Copenhagen on Friday, was arrested on preliminary manslaughter charges but has denied responsibility for the fate of 30-year-old Kim Wall.

He claims she disembarked on an island about three and a half hours into their trip on Thursday night, according to Copenhagen police.

“The owner of the submarine was arrested and is accused of having killed the Swedish woman without intent,” they said in a statement. “He denies the allegations and explains that he left the woman on the end of the Refshaleøen island.”

Wall, a freelance journalist, had been writing about Madsen and his submarine at the time of disappearing, according to Swedish and Danish reports.

“It is with great dismay that we received the news that Kim went missing during an assignment in Denmark,” her family said.

She lives between New York and Beijing, the family said, and has written for titles including the Guardian, New York Times, South China Morning Post and Vice. Her LinkedIn page says she writes about “identity, gender, pop-culture, social justice, foreign policy and the undercurrents of rebellion”.

Madsen made headlines when he successfully financed the building of the submarine through crowdfunding, completing it in 2008.

He appeared on Danish television on Friday to discuss the submarine’s sinking and his rescue. Footage aired on Denmark’s TV2 channel showed him getting off what appeared to be a private boat and making a thumbs-up sign as he walked away. “I am fine, but sad because Nautilus went down,” he told TV2.

Madsen said “a minor problem with a ballast tank … turned into a major issue” that ultimately caused the sinking of the vessel, which was considered to be the largest privately built submarine of its kind. The ballast tank is a compartment that holds water to provide stability for a vessel.

“It took about 30 seconds for Nautilus to sink, and I couldn’t close any hatches or anything,” Madsen said. “But I guess that was pretty good because I otherwise still would have been down there.”

Swedish police said later in the day that they were investigating the whereabouts of Wall, who they said had been on the submarine at some point. “Whether the woman was on board the submarine at the time of her disappearance is unclear,” police said.

A navy spokesman, Anders Damgaard, said: “He told us that the journalist who also had been on board had been dropped off on Thursday evening. They were the only two on board yesterday.”

Authorities were alerted to issues with the voyage when Wall’s boyfriend reported her missing early on Friday. Two helicopters and three ships searched the sea from Copenhagen to the Baltic Sea island of Bornholm.

The navy initially said the craft was “found sailing” south of Copenhagen. But Damgaard later said the 40 tonne submarine had sunk.

Kristian Isbak, who had responded to the navy’s call to help locate the ship, sailed out immediately Friday and saw Madsen standing wearing his trademark military fatigues in the submarine’s tower while it was still afloat.

“He then climbed down inside the submarine and there was then some kind of air flow coming up and the submarine started to sink,” Isbak said. “[He] came up again and stayed in the tower until water came into it” before swimming to a nearby boat as the submarine sank, he added.

Madsen “told us he had technical problems” to explain why the submarine failed to respond to radio contact, Damgaard said.

The 18-metre Nautilus, one of three subs built by Madsen, is sitting under seven metres (24ft) of water close to Copenhagen’s south island of Dragør.

With divers unable to enter it safely, a salvage ship, the Vina, is attempting to raise the vessel.

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Submarine in missing journalist case sunk on purpose, Danish police say | World news

An amateur submarine maker is in custody in Copenhagen as police investigate the disappearance of a Swedish journalist who had been onboard his vessel before he is alleged to have deliberately sunk it off Denmark’s east coast.

Peter Madsen, a Danish inventor whose crowdfunded submarine Nautilus sank near Copenhagen on Friday, was arrested on preliminary manslaughter charges but has denied responsibility for the fate of 30-year-old Kim Wall.

He claims she disembarked on an island about three-and-a-half hours into their trip on Thursday night, according to Copenhagen police.

Police spokesman Jens Møller Jensen said on Sunday that the submarine had been raised from the sea bed and searched but no body had been discovered. The search for Wall in the water, from the air and on land, continues.

Møller Jensen added that there were indications that Madsen deliberately sank his submarine.

On Saturday, after a two-hour custody hearing held in private, Judge Kari Sørensen ordered that Madsen be held in pre-trial detention for 24 days while the investigation into Wall’s disappearance continued.

Prosecutor Louise Pedersen said Madsen faced a preliminary manslaughter charge “for having killed in an unknown way and in an unknown place Kim Isabell Frerika Wall of Sweden sometime after Thursday 5pm”.

Madsen’s defence lawyer, Betina Hald Engmark, said her client maintains his innocence. He is “willing to cooperate” and hasn’t decided whether to appeal the detention ruling, Hald Engmark said.

Wall, a freelance journalist, had been writing about Madsen and his submarine at the time of disappearing, according to Swedish and Danish reports.

Swedish journalist Kim Wall was writing about Peter Madsen and his submarine.



Swedish journalist Kim Wall was writing about Peter Madsen and his submarine. Photograph: Tom Wall/EPA

“It is with great dismay that we received the news that Kim went missing during an assignment in Denmark,” her family said.

She lives between New York and Beijing, the family said, and has written for titles including the Guardian, New York Times, South China Morning Post and Vice. Her LinkedIn page says she writes about “identity, gender, pop-culture, social justice, foreign policy and the undercurrents of rebellion”.

Madsen made headlines when he successfully financed the building of the 40-tonne, 18-metre Nautilus through crowdfunding, completing it in 2008.

He appeared on Danish television on Friday to discuss the submarine’s sinking and his rescue. Footage aired on Denmark’s TV2 channel showed him getting off what appeared to be a private boat and making a thumbs-up sign as he walked away. “I am fine, but sad because Nautilus went down,” he told TV2.

Danish police say they have not found the body of a missing Swedish journalist inside the submarine that sunk off the eastern coast last week.



Danish police say they have not found the body of a missing Swedish journalist inside the submarine that sank off the eastern coast last week. Photograph: Jacob Ehrbahn/Ritzau Foto via AP

Madsen said “a minor problem with a ballast tank … turned into a major issue” that ultimately caused the sinking of the vessel, considered to be the largest privately-built submarine of its kind. The ballast tank is a compartment that holds water to provide stability.

“It took about 30 seconds for Nautilus to sink, and I couldn’t close any hatches or anything,” Madsen said. “But I guess that was pretty good because I otherwise still would have been down there.”

Swedish police said later in the day that they were investigating the whereabouts of Wall, who they said had been on the submarine at some point. “Whether the woman was on board the submarine at the time of her disappearance is unclear,” police said.

A navy spokesman, Anders Damgaard, said: “He told us that the journalist who also had been on board had been dropped off on Thursday evening. They were the only two on board yesterday.”

Submarine owner and inventor Peter Madsen.



Submarine owner and inventor Peter Madsen. Photograph: Bax Lindhardt/EPA

Authorities were alerted to issues with the voyage when Wall’s boyfriend reported her missing early on Friday. Two helicopters and three ships searched the sea from Copenhagen to the Baltic Sea island of Bornholm.

The navy initially said the craft was “found sailing” south of Copenhagen. But Damgaard later said the 40 tonne submarine had sunk.

Kristian Isbak, who had responded to the navy’s call to help locate the ship, sailed out immediately Friday and saw Madsen standing wearing his trademark military fatigues in the submarine’s tower while it was still afloat.

“He then climbed down inside the submarine and there was then some kind of air flow coming up and the submarine started to sink,” Isbak said. “[He] came up again and stayed in the tower until water came into it”, before swimming to a nearby boat as the submarine sank, he added.

Madsen “told us he had technical problems” to explain why the submarine failed to respond to radio contact, Damgaard said.

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Submarine inventor will not contest detention over missing journalist | World news

An inventor accused of killing a missing Swedish journalist who boarded his submarine to interview him the night before it mysteriously sank will not contest his detention but denies any part in her disappearance, his lawyer has said.

Betina Hald Engmark told Denmark’s TV2 that her client, Peter Madsen, 46, would remain in custody for up to 24 days while Danish police continue their investigation into the presumed death of Kim Wall, 30.

The search for Wall continued on Monday in both Danish and Swedish waters, with Danish military aircraft joining search-and-rescue helicopters, ships and divers. Copenhagen police are also searching on land.

“At the moment we don’t know where she is or if she’s alive,” said Ole Thiell Sörensen, of the Danish defence operations centre. “That means police and rescue workers have to look both on land and at sea.”

He told the Swedish broadcaster SVT it would be “a big job” to find a body at sea. “In most cases we work with looking for survivors and that’s hard enough. Looking for a dead person is even more difficult because you cannot use thermal cameras.”

Police refloated the self-built, 18-metre (59ft) UC3 Nautilus in Køge Bay, south of Copenhagen, where it sank in about seven metres of water on Friday morning, and towed it into harbour.

“There are no persons in the submarine, either dead or alive,” said the Copenhagen police homicide chief, Jens Moller, adding that the vessel appeared to have been scuttled deliberately and was being treated as a possible crime scene.

Wall, a freelance journalist who has written from China and the US for the Guardian and the New York Times, and who was writing a feature about the Nautilus and its owner, boarded the submarine on Thursday evening and has not been heard from since.

After her boyfriend told police that she had not returned home as originally planned, Danish authorities began searching for the vessel – the world’s largest home-built submarine when it was launched in 2008 – eventually locating it in Køge Bay, about 30 miles from the Danish capital.

Madsen, an entrepreneur, artist, inventor and aerospace engineer, was rescued by a private boat from the submarine minutes before it sank. He told police he had dropped Wall off at the mouth of Copenhagen harbour late on Thursday night, three hours after she boarded, once the interview was over.

Madsen also told reporters at the scene that the vessel had sunk after running into problems with its ballast tank, but Danish police have since said he has given them a different version of events – although they would not say what.

Swedish journalist Kim Wall who was allegedly on board a submarine south of Copenhagen before it sank on August 11, 2017.



Swedish journalist Kim Wall who was allegedly on board a submarine south of Copenhagen before it sank on August 11, 2017. Photograph: Tom Wall/AFP/Getty Images

He has been charged with negligent manslaughter “for having killed in an unknown way and in an unknown place Kim Isabell Frerika Wall of Sweden sometime after Thursday 5pm”, according to the public prosecutor, Louise Pedersen.

Wall, who lives between New York and Beijing and has also written for Vice and the South China Morning Post, specialises in stories about “identity, gender, pop-culture, social justice, foreign policy and the undercurrents of rebellion”, according to her LinkedIn page.

Madsen told TV2 after his rescue that it had taken “about 30 seconds for Nautilus to sink, and I couldn’t close any hatches or anything. But I guess that was pretty good because otherwise I still would have been down there.”

Kristian Isbak, who responded to the navy’s call to help locate the submarine on Friday, said he had seen Madsen in his trademark military fatigues in the submarine’s tower while it was still afloat.

“He then climbed down inside the submarine and there was then some kind of air flow coming up and the submarine started to sink,” Isbak said. “He came up again and stayed in the tower until water came into it,” then swam to a nearby boat as the submarine sank.

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Woman’s body found as Danish police search for missing journalist | World news

A woman’s body has been found at the water’s edge in Copenhagen, hours after a Danish inventor charged with killing a Swedish journalist in his homemade submarine told a court she had died onboard.

Peter Madsen told the court that Kim Wall, who has been missing since 11 August, died in an accident onboard his vessel, and that he dumped her body in the sea.

The inventor had previously claimed he last saw the 30-year-old when he dropped her off on the tip of an island off Copenhagen late on 10 August. He had denied playing any role in her disappearance.

Danish police technicians investigate the recovered privately owned submarine Nautilus UC3.



Danish police technicians investigate the recovered submarine. Photograph: Jens Noergaard Larsen/EPA

Police later told a press conference that it was still too early to identify the body – missing its head, legs and arms – that was found by a passing cyclist on Monday.

“It is clear that the police, like the media and everybody else, is speculating whether this female body is Kim Wall, but it is way too soon to tell,” said a Copenhagen police spokesman, Jens Møller Jensen.

The body had been sent for forensic analysis while divers continued to search the area where it was found, Møller Jensen said. On Tuesday he said the arms and legs had “deliberately been cut off” the body. Results from a DNA test are expected on Wednesday .

Madsen has been charged with the manslaughter of Wall. Danish authorities have been searching for the reporter, who had been writing a feature story about Madsen, since she failed to return from an interview with him onboard the 18-metre (60ft) Nautilus.

Police said on Monday that Madsen, who has been accused of negligent manslaughter, “told police and the court that there was an accident onboard the sub that led to the death of Kim Wall, and that he subsequently buried her at sea in an undefined location of the Køge Bay”.

“We believe he is telling the truth when he says she died in the submarine,” the Danish police chief, Steen Hansen, told the Swedish news agency TT. He did not comment on whether police also believed Madsen’s account of the circumstances of Wall’s death. The charges against Madsen remain in place.

The court’s prosecution and defence teams had made a joint decision to lift parts of the privacy order around the case, which is being conducted behind closed doors.

Madsen’s lawyer, Betina Hald Engmark, told the Danish newspaper BT that her client was “relieved” after police released some information on the case.

“He wants to collaborate with the police and give investigators all the information needed in the case,” Engmark said.

Wall was last seen on Madsen’s vessel by several people in waters off Copenhagen on the evening of 10 August. Her boyfriend reported her missing in the early hours of Friday.

The submarine was later also reported missing, but rescue crews located it at shortly after 10am on 11 August in Køge Bay, about 30 miles (50km) south of the Danish capital.

At about 11am, Madsen jumped into the water after the submarine started to sink, telling personnel on the boat that rescued him that there had been a problem with the ballast tank and something had gone wrong when he tried to repair it.

Police refloated the Nautilus and towed it into harbour for investigation, later suggesting that Madsen may have sunk the boat on purpose to hide evidence.

Danish police said the search for Wall’s body, by helicopters, ships and divers during the weekend, would continue on Monday.

The Nautilus was the biggest private submarine ever made when Madsen built it in 2008. Swedish media reported that Wall had planned to sell her article on Madsen’s boat to the US magazine Wired.

Originally from Sweden, Wall held degrees from Columbia University and the London School of Economics, and had written on issues ranging from social justice to foreign policy for publications including the Guardian, the New York Times, Foreign Policy and Time.

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Danish police confirm headless torso is missing journalist Kim Wall | World news

Police in Denmark have identified a headless torso found in the Copenhagen waterside as that of Swedish journalist Kim Wall, who police believe was killed on board a Danish inventor’s homemade submarine.

Speaking at a press conference on Wednesday morning, Copenhagen police’s vice-president, Jens Møller, said metal weights had been attached to the body to prevent it from floating to the surface.

“The body bears the mark of having, most likely, been inflicted deliberate damage with the purpose of ensuring that gasses can pass out of the body – possibly in an attempt to avoid that a body rises from the seabed,” Møller said.

He also said DNA taken from a hairbrush and toothbrush belonging to 30-year-old Wall had matched that of blood found on the submarine.

Peter Madsen, a Danish inventor about whom Wall is believed to have been writing a feature article, was charged with manslaughter last week. He told a court hearing this week that Wall died in an accident on his vessel and that he “buried” her at sea.

This marked a change from a previous statement in which he claimed to have dropped off Wall alive on the tip of an island off Copenhagen late on 10 August before the vessel sank. Madsen denies manslaughter.

Wall’s mother, Ingrid, posted on Facebook on Wednesday: “We cannot see the end of the disaster yet, and a lot of questions are still to be answered.

“The tragedy has hit not only us and other families, but friends and colleagues all over the world. During the horrendous days since Kim disappeared, we have received countless evidence of how loved and appreciated she has been, as a human and friend as well as a professional journalist. From all corners of the world comes evidence of Kim’s ability to be a person who makes a difference.”

Peter Madsen’s private submarine sits on a pier in Copenhagen harbour



Peter Madsen’s private submarine sits on a pier in Copenhagen harbour. Photograph: Jens Dresling/AP

Originally from Sweden, Wall had degrees from Columbia University and the London School of Economics, and had written for publications including the New York Times, Foreign Policy, Time and the Guardian.

Danish authorities had been searching for the reporter since she failed to return from an interview with Madsen on board the Nautilus. She was last seen on the vessel by several people in waters off Copenhagen on the evening of 10 August. Her boyfriend reported her missing in the early hours the next day.

The submarine was later also reported missing, and rescue crews located it shortly after 10am on 11 August in Køge Bay, south of the Danish capital. At about 11am, Madsen jumped into the water after the submarine started to sink. He told personnel on the boat that rescued him that there had been a problem with the ballast tank and something had gone wrong when he tried to repair it.

Police refloated the Nautilus and towed it into harbour for investigation, later suggesting that Madsen may have sunk the boat on purpose to hide evidence.

Madsen appeared before a judge on 12 August for preliminary questioning. The case is not open to the public to protect further investigations, police said.

Kim Wall timeline
Kim Wall timeline

On Wednesday Madsen’s lawyer said her client still maintains that Wall died accidentally, and that the discovery of the journalist’s torso did not mean he was guilty of killing her.

“It doesn’t change my client’s explanation that an accident happened,” Betina Hald Engmark told Danish tabloid BT. “No matter what, we find it very positive that she has been found now.”

An entrepreneur, artist, submarine builder and aerospace engineer, Madsen, 46, nicknamed Rocket, has enjoyed a cult status in his native Denmark. For years, a team built around him and the aerospace engineer Kristian von Bengtson have worked on designing a rocket-driven spacecraft.

The Nautilus, which was Madsen’s third design for a “midget submarine” vessel and became the largest privately built submarine when it was unveiled in 2008, has been his most spectacular invention to date.

Measuring almost 18 metres and weighing 40 tonnes, it can be operated by one person from its control room. Madsen was known to regularly take fans and submarine enthusiasts on tours through the Øresund strait. Able to submerge in approximately 20 seconds, the boat can carry up to eight people to 100 metres below sea level.

On Tuesday a support group set up in his honour distanced itself from the inventor. “The dream is burst. In view of the latest information released by the Copenhagen police today, there is regrettably no way for us to continue as part of the Raket-Madsen Support Group,” the group’s president announced on its website.

Danish police said that in light of the findings they would look afresh into unsolved cases such as the murder of a Japanese tourist in 1986. Body parts of 22-year-old Kazuko Toyonaga were found in plastic bags at separate locations in the waters outside Copenhagen almost a month after the student disappeared on her travels through Scandinavia.

Jessica Reed, the Guardian’s US features editor, who commissioned Wall to write articles on a range of subjects, including the last freakshow in America, Voudou in Haiti, real-life vampires and an eccentric American couple who had befriended Gaddafi, paid tribute to the reporter.

“It would be sad to let this tragedy define what Kim’s life was,” Reed said. “She should be remembered for her insatiable curiosity, and her drive to find stories which no other journalist had touched before.

“She was deeply interested in the lives of outliers, people who lived their lives in their own terms. Her passion for her subjects was infectious, and as such she was an absolute pleasure to work with. She was a true professional.”

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