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Swede Success

A social punk Lisbeth Salander has done the unthinkable.

Written by Alaka Sahani |
April 19, 2010 11:14:28 pm

After the Millennium trilogy triggered world-wide interest in Swedish crime fiction,Sweden plots to capture the imagination of bibliophiles like never before

A social punk Lisbeth Salander has done the unthinkable. With her gripping story—spanning the Millennium trilogy by Swedish author Stieg Larsson—this extremely intelligent computer hacker has won Swedish crime fiction a world-wide following.

Sweden has been quick to cash in on the trend. It has already introduced Millennium tours in Stockholm—which tourists are lapping up. The latest in its efforts to ensure that Swedish crime writers continue to thrill readers is a host of events organised in India. As part of this,author Håkan Nesser will kick off the Swedish Crime Fiction Week in New Delhi on Monday,before travelling to Bengaluru and Mumbai. The Mumbai schedule has workshop and theatrical reading slotted on April 24 at Vie Lounge,Juhu,and the screening of The Girl with a Dragon Tattoo at Candy’s,Bandra,at 7 pm on the following day.

“Swedish crime fiction has emerged as a brand in itself by redefining modern noir fiction and by moving away from plain black-and-white to mirror-image realities of today’s world. Writers from Sweden are increasingly visible in the market for crime and mystery across the world and are now making inroads into the Indian market as well,’’ says Lars-Olof Lindgren,Swedish Ambassador to India.

At present,Sweden has a large number of excellent crime writers whose works have been translated into English in the last decade and are selling well globally. This includes the pioneering duo Maj Sjöwall and Per Wahlöö,Henning Mankell,Åke Edwardson,Börje Hellström,Anders Roslund,Leif G W Persson,Liza Marklund and Åsa Larsson. Leading the march,of course,is the late Stieg Larsson,who died at the age of 50 in 2004 without witnessing the phenomenal success of the trilogy—The Girl with a Dragon Tattoo,The Girl who Played with Fire and The Girl who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest.

Nesser,the creator of Inspector Barbarotti,attributes the rise in the popularity of Swedish crime fiction to good writing from a number of writers with very different styles. The author of The Mind’s Eye,says,“We happen to have a good number of excellent writers these days. Twenty years ago,nobody outside Sweden read Swedish crime.” However,he doesn’t think highly of all the new crime writers.

For some time now,the literary world has been hailing the popularity of Nordic (a region in Northern Europe and the North Atlantic which consists of Denmark,Finland,Iceland,Norway and Sweden) detective novels. Nesser proclaims that for now they occupy the number one position. “We have a few good Norwegian writers—one from Iceland,a couple of Danes. However,it was different 10 years ago,when Norway was in the front. Right now,the Swedes seem to be on top. Eventually,this will change of course,” says the pragmatic 60-year-old.

The spotlight might be on Stieg Larsson and his fascinating creation Salander right now,but Nesser argues that Swedish crime fiction was quite well read in the whole of Europe much before the Millenium’s success. “Stieg’s books created a hype,but after all it’s just three books. There are numerous others well worth reading. I liked Stieg’s books a lot,and it’s really sad he didn’t live to see what he caused,” says Nesser.

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