Once again, I’m behind on the buzz. But here are a few links and comments.
The Guardian has been in a list-making mood lately, but they’ve taken time off to discover Scandinavian crime fiction. Two cosmic events – the publication of Stieg Larsson’s second book and the television broadcast of the BBC Wallander series – have lined up. Of course anyone with a passing interest in crime fiction had long ago made the discovery. Bit like Columbus going on and on about something that Lief Erickson had pulled off five hundred years previously. Sheesh.
Still, the author, John Crace, has some good things to say. The English market for books is less receptive to translations (perhaps not just due to insularity, but because there’s such a lot of solid English crime fiction without the need to translate). One main reason for the trend is that “the quality of writing in Scandinavian crime fiction has remained, in general, a notch or two higher than elsewhere.” And he suggests that the foreign settings of the books also makes them more intriguing. “Crime writers can come up with any number of serial killers and paedophiles with ever sicker twists, but as long as they are situated in LA, New York, London and Edinburgh there will inevitably be a sense of familiarity. The Scandinavian locations dislocate British readers and help take them beyond plot and genre to the human condition.” Er, well, they also take them beyond cliches of serial killers. The crimes in the best of Scandinavian crime fiction, by and large, tend to focus more on the effect of crime on communities than on gory, sensationalist murders and the thrill of the chase.
Meanwhile, the Bookwitch is amused that the works of Maj Sjöwall and Per Wahlöö are being rediscovered. “Never thought these crime novels from my past, read by all my leftish friends, would re-surface. But it’s good.” (As is the resurfacing of many other forgotten leftist things such as due process, freedom of information, and the rule of law . . . whoops, sorry for the post-inaugural digression.) Translator Reg Keeland has started a blog that launched a thousand comments (well, not really – but the blog post to comment ratio is unusual). And Euro Crime alerts us to a new book on Scandinavian crime fiction forthcoming from the University of Wales Press.
Steph of Wheredunnit continues a tour of Sweden with a visit to Camilla Lackberg’s Fjällbacka, the setting for The Ice Princess. Reg Keeland, the translator and blogger of a thousand comments leaves a comment himself with a taste of the upcoming book in the series, The Stonecutter.
Mack has captured a copy of The Girl Who Played With Fire and is well chuffed about it. Material Witness considers Elisabeth Salander’s reception and possible connections to other heroines ranging from Pippi Longstocking to Carol O’Connell’s Mallory.