Fans of Young Royals discover UW professor's translation of Crisis  

Submitted by Stacey Breitberg on

Assistant Professor and Barbro Osher Endowed Chair of Swedish Studies at UW Amanda Doxtater has recently gotten some free press for one of her translations. American fans of the Swedish-language Netflix teen drama and romance Young Royals are clamoring for a copy of Doxtater’s translation of Karin Boye’s 1934 novel Crisis after characters in the show read the text.

Young Royals is about a fictional young Swedish prince named Wilhelm who struggles with the pressures and expectations of being a prince. In season two, the characters in Young Royals are tasked with doing a group project based on Boye’s novel Crisis, a semi-autobiographical, experimental, queer love story that is also set in a school.

Fans of the show noted the many similarities between the show and the book and wondered, “Is the Crisis book by Karin Boye from the show real?” or was it made up for the Young Royals? In answer to that question, Mckinley Franklin writes, “Yes, Crisis, is a real book written by Karin Boye.”

Crisis epitomizes Swedish author Karin Boye’s (1900-1941) capacity to write in a way that is queer, cerebral, imaginative, moving, sometimes formally estranging, occasionally tedious, and above all, wild,” writes Doxtater in her introduction to the translation.

Written nearly a century ago, the novel has found new fans through Doxtater’s translation. Doxtater shares that seeing the novel on TikTok is a testament to how much Boye's work resonates to all kinds of readers. “I got Crisis and I think I’m going to have a crisis,” says another fan in a reading vlog on Youtube. They purchased the novel after seeing it mentioned on Young Royals, and they connected to the text after reading it. “Why is [Karin Boye] so real for everything?” 

 “I am ELATED that young fans of Young Royals are reading Karin Boye,” says Doxtater, “and that there's a wave of new readers finding her work. Last year Boye's novel Crisis was adapted for the stage in Sweden. Of course, I'm tickled to see fans of the show engage with my translation. Crisis is a challenging text in many ways. I made a very deliberate decision to write an extensive introduction contextualizing the piece both with Boye's authorship and in her historical context precisely so that new readers could appreciate the text for all of its wonderful eccentricities. … So much of [young readers’ responses] resonated with my own fascinations and frustrations with the book when I was around 20, the same age as the protagonist in the novel. I talk about that extensively in my translator's afterword, which is also published in the book.”

Doxtater’s translation won co-runner-up for the Bernard Shaw Translation Prize with the Society of Authors in the UK in 2021.  

Want more? Check out Nancy Joseph’s full interview with Amanda Doxtater on her translation process and on the ways Crisis continues to resonate with readers.