Monthly Archives: February 2009

boxoffice success

Uriah, a.k.a. Norm of Crime Scraps, picked up a Swedish news story about the release of a film of Stieg Larsson’s Girl With a Dragon Tattoo.

Fans of the books have been eagerly awaiting the film version, directed by acclaimed Danish movie maker Niels Arden Oplev.

Shot in Stockholm, the film casts Swedish star Michael Nyqvist in the role of Blomkvist, who effortlessly tumbles into violent mysteries and intrigues, while Salander is brought to life by virtually unknown actress Noomi Rapace.

Swedish media have unanimously hailed the muscular, raven-haired Rapace, covered in piercings and a large dragon tattoo on her back for the shoot, for her convincing performance, especially in the most violent scenes including one in which she is brutally raped.

Some critics have said Rapace is physically too big and muscular to faithfully play Salander, described in the trilogy as a small, androgynous girl who is so skinny she looks anorexic.

After seeing an early screening of the nearly two-and-a-half-hour-long movie, however, most viewers said the physical differences were easily forgotten thanks to Rapace’s convincing performance.

The film, which is doing very well and is being released in several European countries and will open the Cannes Film Festival, will be followed by six television programs based on the trilogy. Norm points out that Larsson was very detailed in his description of Salander, so it’s interesting that an actress who looks different is nevertheless being hailed as “just like Lisabeth Salander.” It must be a bit tricky to film a book that’s so well known. In a country of 9 million people, 3 million copies of the trilogy have been sold.

calling Kalle

DJ has a wonderful appreciation of the original Blomqvist – Kalle Blomqvist of Astrid Lindgren’s series – including his working relationship with Eva-Lotte who’s . . . well, a girl, but nevertheless she’s brave and makes all of their adventures more exciting. The photos of a child actor playing the role of Kalle and of Stieg Larsson are priceless.

lights, camera, Blomqvist

AFP TV (it took me quite a few minutes of puzzlement at their website to realize this is Agence France Presse, which I could find spelled out nowhere on its website – seems an odd way to treat a respected brand; the site looks more like it belongs to a PR firm) has a short video on visiting Blomqvist’s Stockholm, including a home occupied by people named Blomqvist (she’s read the books, he hasn’t) and a cafe frequented by characters in Stieg Larsson’s trilogy. If you can stand the annoying ads, you will see a nice bit of the city, briefly.

The ad-to-content ratio reminds me why I prefer print journalism, which is not faring well these days.

Ake Edwardson – almost but . . .

Peter of Scandinavian Books reviews Ake Edwardson’s Sun and Shadow - part of a procedural series set in Gotland. It involves a staged murder scene, and as Peter describes it, “Erik Winter feels that the murderer is providing them with a riddle of nightmares, of good versus evil, of sun and shadow.” He recommends it as exciting and well-rounded.

I reviewed it for Mystery Scene back in 2005 (though, oddly, someone else’s name appears on the review. I wonder if he’d agree with my assessment?) In retrospect, it seems a very enthusiastic review for a book that I don’t remember liking quite as much as it sounds. At any rate, it didn’t make me seek out the rest, though  Never End (2006) got a very favorable review in MS from another reviewer.

Maxine’s review at Euro Crime is more measured – lots of promise, interesting leads, but a forced motive and a denouement that’s a bit of a let-down. Fiona Walker’s Euro Crime review of Frozen Tracks, the third to be translated and also is ambivalent –  very good in some respects, but with some narrative habits that make it less effective than top-ranked Scandinavian crime. Maybe that’s a burden for Scandinavian crime writers – there are so many that are so good, the comparisons are many and the bar is high.

new reviews

The Reactions to Reading blog has a review of Anne Holt’s What is Mine (apa Punishment in the UK – the reviewer favors the US title, thinking it’s more clearly related to the book) and found that, while it has its flaws, the characters are memorable and the impact of violence in Norway is depicted in a thoughful way quite different than the way it is handled in the US, where violence is more common. Conclusion: “This book had a high degree of what I like to call unputdownability (i.e. it made me late for work) and, overall, the annoyances were forgivable.”

Kerrie reviews Henning Mankell’s The Pyramid at Mysteries in Paradise. She finds the collection of short stories that fill in Kurt Wallander’s past and declares it “eminently readable.” Not one for fans to miss.

. . . trying to do a better job of keeping up; thanks to my friends at FriendFeed for making it easy.

good lord, is it that late?

I have been a very, very bad blogger. Work has kept me busy, so this will not be news, but “olds.”

Dorte reviews Inger Frimansson’s Shadows on the Water – which, because the plot of the book, a sequel to Good Night, MyDarling, is itself a spoiler, contains spoilers.Earlier, she wrote about The Preacher by Camilla Lackberg (which may be “femikrimi”) and Kerstin Ekman’s Blackwater which is not “femikrimi” – which Dorte describes fascinatingly in a post of its own. (She hastens to add this is not her construction – she merely brings the commandments down from the mountain.)

IcelandReview talks about Yrsa Sigurdardottir’s My Soul to Take, newly translated into English. No word on its femikrimi-ness, but the reviewer finds the heroine’s domestic life boring.

Karen Meek offers reviews of audio version of Silence of the Grave and Uriah (aka Norm) reviews The Princess of Burundi by Kjell Ericksson.

Sarah Weinmann includes Tim Davys mysterious Amberville in her L.A. Times round-up of animal-centric novels.

The pseudonymous Swedish writer Tim Davys unpacks a more audacious concept to open his — or is it her? — new series, readily apparent in the opening paragraph of “Amberville” (Harper: 344 pp., $19.95): “Early one morning at the end of April there was pounding on the door to Eric Bear and Emma Rabbit’s apartment on brick-red Uxbridge street.” The translation continues to be clunky, the tone remains hard-bitten and violent, and the characters’ names are anything but ironic: They are stuffed animals living in the plush toy world of Mollisan Town. . . . the giddy thrill comes in how Davys accomplishes the obvious. The narrative zigzags through a number of disparate viewpoints (such as Eric’s mirror-image twin Teddy, the grudge-wielding poet Hyena Battaille and a mysterious baddie dubbed “Twilight”) that colors in ambiguity about every major character until the realization hits for both reader and anti-hero alike, to paraphrase a certain iconic 1970s film noir: “Forget it, Eric. It’s Amberville.”

I guess you just have to read it to get what that’s all about. Or you could read the review in Lit Life. Or watch the trailer. Still no guarantee you’ll get it. I’m waiting for Mack to explain it to me.

The Washington Post looks at the amazing posthumous success of Stieg Larsson – and quotes from an expert. Good on you, WaPo, for finding the best sources. First Deep Throat, now Petrona, discovered not in a parking garage but at Euro Crime.

Henning Mankell (who looks amazingly like Kenneth Branagh – oh, wait, that is Kenneth Branagh) is reportedly planning to appear at an international book fair in Abu Dhabi, and the author of the article uses the occasion to round up some other developments in Scaninavian crime fiction. What isn’t entirely clear is whether he’s still on the agenda since a comic romp of a book set in the Emirates reportedly was banned – ostensibly because a minor figure in the novel is gay. Margaret Atwood withdrew from the fair, but now is appearing via video link on a panel on censorship sponsored by PEN, which says the book actually wasn’t banned. Atwood’s blushing is rather becoming.

Robert McCrumb thinks the presence of translated literature on UK bestseller lists – with a Swede among them is, alas, a passing thing, not a trend. “It’s not new and, sadly, it’s not really significant. . . . To put this would-be trend into perspective, we should note that less than 3% of Britain’s annual literary output is in translation.” The creation of a Scandinavian Crime  section in Waterstones is temporary. We shall see.

Crime Fest, coming in May, has decided to turn choosing panels into a thriller. Håkan Nesser and Yrsa Sigurdardottir will be on different panels at the same time.  But they’ll each appear separately elsewher on the schedule, so no need for a Solmonic decision. Looks like a terrific program. A panel on Foreign Correspondent: Books In Translation will feature Tiina Nunally, Reg Keeland, Don Bartlett, and Ros Schwartz. Three out of four Nordic translators – does this count as a trend?

Speaking of tranlators, Reg Keeland has a blog now. Fascinating stuff. And there’s a list of upcoming Scandinavian crime translations at Scandinavian Books. Looks like a trend to me.

Maxine recaps a Bookseller article on “Northern Lights” – an article on European crime fiction in translation spurred by the  Scandinavian crime wave. Sadly, the original article is not online, but she picks out the good bits while I wait for a copy to arrive via interlibrary loan.

And for now I think we’re more or less caught up . . . here, at least, if not at work.