Jo Nesbo

Before his signing, we practiced so hard pronouncing his name. We knew his first name wasn't pronounced "Joe." An American who had lived in Norway told us it was pronounced "Yo." So we dutifully practiced and told everyone (a little pompously) that it was "Yoh Nesboh."

The first thing Jo Nesbo said when he arrived at the store for his signing was, "Call me Joe." Huh? It appears his name is pronounced (by Norwegians) "Hyew Nesbew," said with a little moue for the "ew" sounds, but the English-speaking world (primarily Britain) insists on calling him Joe. Jo is an easy-going guy, we guess, so the willow bent with the wind and Hyew became Joe.

Jo arrived from a day of climbing a rock wall at a local gym and cycling around the city. His athletic inclination shouldn't be so surprising. After all, he was an amateur footballer (that's "soccer player" to you Americans) in Norway. Self-effacing, articulate in English, cool in the crush of admirers, he was a great representative of the "new" Scandanavian authors American readers are fanatically embracing.

He was in town to speak before a stack of librarians at their national meeting in Portland. Fortunately (if you're not a kid), he was here to talk about his adult books, The Redbreast, Nemesis, and The Devil's Star. He does have a children's book, Dr. Proctor's Fart Powder, for which the word "fart" apparently outsized the author's name in the English-language version.

Since he speaks English so well, this was the uppermost thought on our minds: Does he "correct" his English-language translator? And the answer is no. He actually refuses to read his books in English, trusting his translator implicitly. The proof is in the pudding; Jo's books in English sell very well and are highly rated both by critics and, more importantly, readers.

And what did Jo buy from our store to read on his plane back? Martin Cruz Smith, Megan Abbott, and Greg Rucka, a Portland author. Good choices!

Norway is a long way away, and we're glad Jo made the effort to visit us. Skål!