war (of words) breaks out

Sweden may be a peaceable, neutral country but it hasn’t always been thus. Gustav Adolph and Charles the XII were not averse to mixing it up with the neighbors. Apparently, some of the old combative spirit lives on.

The Earth Times is reporting a war of words has broken out, a spat of crankiness coinciding with the summer holiday season in Sweden.

In interviews, older writers have disparaged younger writers, with the battle lines drawn by both genre and gender. From a US perspective one has to wonder – what’s new about this? Sisters in Crime, of which I am a card-carrying member, has been promoting women in the genre for decades, and it still has its work cut out for it; genre wars are a year round event, not an occasional outbreak of hostilities. But in Sweden, it’s newsworthy.

Round one:

G W Persson, 62-year-old professor of criminology and successful author of murder mysteries, said in a recent interview that Camilla Laeckberg, a colleague 30 years his junior, planned her novels like “kitsch novellas for equestrian magazines,” and was writing in the style of stupid children’s books.

The victim of his attack drastically paid him out in his own coin, countering, “This is just the piss of an elderly gentleman who feels somehow left out.”

Round two:

Ernst Brunner, 56, who is the author of not very commercially successful, high-brow novels, has compared the actually enormous flood of Swedish murder mysteries even with “the shit of the seagulls who ruin my island on the Stockholm archipelago.”

His colleague Bjoern Ranelid, 58, has mainly been attacking Liza Marklund, 44, who managed to sell 9 million copies of her book in a country that only has 9 million inhabitants. “One million Swedes can write like Liza Marklund,” he said. Ranelid considers the systematic self-marketing of the attractive blonde Marklund on all her book covers as a danger to his own business. “If things continue like that, fiction will perish,” he said.

And a diplomatic elder statesman tries to broker a truce:

The only one of the guard of ageing best-selling authors to agree with her is 63-year-old Jan Guillou, whose books – like the secret service series Coq Rouge – have also been selling 9 million copies.

“This is about envy,” he says. “With added sexism,” the Dagens Nyheter daily added in a leader

Perhaps this war of words is being blown out of proportion, but it’s a good sign that the health of one branch of book publishing is so successful it makes some writers in other branches nervous. When you have authors who can sell as many books as their are citizens, and that pattern is not unique to one author, surely something is not rotten in the state of Sweden, where literacy and book culture are alive and well.

Via The Local.

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6 thoughts on “war (of words) breaks out

  1. Huh, that’s interesting. Funny how this has taken on such a strongly gendered twist. There was a popular female crime fiction writer in the old days – Maria Lang published 40 mysteries, so she must have had a following. And of course, half of the team that wrote the Martin Beck series was female. Curiouser and curiouser…

  2. Pingback: marketing mysteries in Scandinavia « Scandinavian Crime Fiction

  3. Yes, I was rather disappointed by Jan Guillou on this.

    Interestingly I blogged about Maria Lang a few weeks ago, but only in passing, as it’s years since I read her books. Feel I’d like to return to them and see how they fare today. Have you read them, and do they exist in English translation?

  4. Three of her books were translated in the 1960s, but I haven’t read any of them.

    I wonder if Jan Guillou isn’t just tired after writing umpty-million books and finding women an excuse….

  5. Pingback: missing Perssons « Scandinavian Crime Fiction

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