2010:1 Issue

Editorial2010:1 Issue

A week into 2010, an analysis of bestseller lists from Europe’s seven biggest book markets reveals that Stieg Larsson, late author of the Millennium Trilogy, was the top-selling writer across the continent in 2009. The Top Ten also included Camilla Läckberg and Henning Mankell. Just inside the doors of a UK high-street branch of W H Smith, a Millennium display trumpets ‘read the books everybody’s talking about!’ Publishers from firms small and large talk of heading to the a Gothenburg Book Fair (see Laurie Thompson’s lively account of last autumn’s Fair in this issue).

By March, the travel section of The Times is devoting two pages to the ‘Secrets of Stieg’s Stockholm’, and no less than four books about Larsson are in preparation for the English-language market. The Swedish film of The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo goes on UK general release, and Hollywood sits up and takes notice. The Independent on Sunday runs a long article by Kate Youde, bringing in other rising stars such as Håkan Nesser, Johan Theorin and Mari Jungstedt. The compilers of the popular ‘Euro Crime’ website find themselves inundated with translated Swedish crime novels to review, and there is anecdotal evidence from publishers’ sales reps that booksellers are demanding only Nordic crime.

Swedish crime fiction has gone mainstream. What is its fascination? Gloomy Viking protagonists in frozen, island landscapes, and the darkest of crimes in the shadow of the collapse of the welfare state have been cited. But don’t we have our own broodingly disintegrating fictional detectives, broken society, and evil murder plots? Leading crime fiction reviewer Barry Forshaw perhaps puts his finger on it when he says that for us, Sweden is sufficiently the same, yet sufficiently different. We are all ‘complaining people in a cold climate’, he suggested at the recent, packed discussion evening, ‘Crimes of the Millennium’, at the Swedish Ambassador’s London residence.

What impact is all this having on the uptake of literary works from Sweden? The issue is addressed for us here by Paul Engles in his survey of the current publishing scene. We also present the latest in our series highlighting other European countries: Paul Berf describes Germany’s love affair with Swedish literature, led by, but not confined to, its crime fiction.

In the first SBR crime fiction special since 2001, we have selected some top-quality, genre-broadening authors still largely undiscovered in the English-speaking world. Matchless storyteller Kerstin Ekman came to prominence here with Blackwater in 1995, but much of her superb writing remains to be translated. The intelligent thrillers of Arne Dahl have been on SBR’s radar for some time, but it is only recently that two Dahl titles have been acquired by a US publisher. Bestselling Viveca Sten and Finland-Swedish crime reporter Staffan Bruun complete the line up. Enjoy a voyage of discovery!

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Kerstin Ekman and Swedish Crime

Citing 'the continuing tendency in crime fiction to link psychological exploration with political radicalism', Anna Paterson outlines the various ways in which Kerstin Ekman construes crime, its origins and consequences, in her fiction.


from The Practice of Murder

Translated by Sarah Death, Anna Paterson, Linda Schenck, and Rochelle Wright

The novel concerns a physician who believes he is the model for Hjalmar Sjöderberg's eponymous protagonist in Doctor Glas. Yet he appears, rather, to emulate Söderberg's character.


from Scratchcards

Translated and introduced by Linda Schenck

This is the third volume of the Wolfskin trilogy. The core of Scratchcards is how Elis Elv's past catches up with him. The trilogy begins and ends with wolf hunts, a subject as current and controversial today as it was a century ago, when the first in the trilogy was set.


from Revive Me

Translated and introduced by Rochelle Wright

A mystery motif running through this complex, polyphonic novel is the whereabouts of teenager Rosemarie, who vanishes on the morning of Lucia Day, and the efforts of her younger sister Mariella to find her.


from Devil's Horn

Translated and introduced by Sarah Death

Devil's Horn is a clever and intriguing novel which is sometimes described as a 'crossover' work, marking the author's transition from crime fiction to 'serious' writing. But all of Ekman's fiction is multi-dimensional and resistant to straightforward genre categorisation.


Selling Ice to the Eskimos? Swedish Crime Fiction and the World of Publishing

In the light of runaway successes like Stieg Larsson's Millennium Trilogy, Paul Engles assesses the impact and importance of Swedish Crime Fiction and the world of publishing.


from Requiem

Translated by Laurie Thompson

Requiem is part of the 'Intercrime' series, a sequence of nine free-standing novels about the elite crime fighters known as 'The A Team'. Arne Dahl is the crime-writing pseudonym used by the author, critic and literary magazine editor Jan Arnald.


from Struggling Love

Translated by Anna-Lisa and Martin Murrell

Struggling Love is the author's ninth crime novel featuring the Finland-Swedish journalist Burt Kobbat. Murders, death threats, a long-lost Paul McCartney recording and the premiere of a Disney film all conspire to provide Kobbat with adventures in various countries.


from Still Waters

Translated by Marlaine Delargy

In this extract from Viveca Sten's first novel we meet Detective Inspector Thomas Andreasson and his childhood friend Nora Linde, a lawyer. As Thomas investigates a mysterious death on the atmospheric island of Sandhamn, Nora is inexorably drawn into the mystery - but the real danger is much closer than either of them can imagine.


Swedish Literature in Germany - A Success Story, Only Slightly Flawed

Paul Berf presents an overview of the changing fortunes of Swedish literature in German translation.


The Attractions of the Fringe: The Gothenburg Book Fair 2009

Laurie Thompson reports from the Gothenburg Book Fair 2009.


Reviews from this issue will be available online soon.

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