Solidarity And Larsson

 

Reflections on Water
Reflections on Water

Reg Keeland, who goes by the pen name of Steven T. Murray, has a blog that is entitled “Stieg Larsson’s English Translator“.  Larsson is pretty big right now, especially with the American release of the Hollywood version of “Girl With the Dragon Tattoo” scheduled for the near future. However, only a small bit of Larsson’s fame has been directed towards the busy translator, who is also capable of translating German, Danish and Norwegian into English. Still, Steven Murray manages to keep busy with his translation work and his blog is always a good source of information on Scandinavian writers, who are doing book tours in America.

Lately, a different type of story appeared on Murray’s blog. It was a link to a website publication of a Swedish Organization called Solidarity and an article detailing Larsson’s past and his political activities around the world. The writer, Hakan Blomqvist, was a good friend of Stieg Larsson and knew the writer well. The article makes for an interesting exploration of Larsson’s background.

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Dragon Tattoo Comes To America

Noomi Rapace who plays the Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
Noomi Rapace who plays the Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

I finally got a chance to see the “Girl With The Dragon Tattoo” the other night and despite all attention the book and movie has garnered lately, I was completely surprised and engrossed by the film. I have not read the book so I did not know what to expect.

It wasn’t  a fast-paced film like so many American crime-action films tend to be, but yet a very captivating undertaking that delves  into the dark side of modern Swedish society.

The performances were first rate, especially that put on by Miss Rapace, as she was very convincing as the hard-edged computer hacker named Lisbeth Salander.

I was surprised to learn that the director was from nearby Denmark. Niels Arden Oplev has been around Scandinavian TV and film for a while, but his stint as director for “Dragon Tattoo” ought to put him on par with the other world-traveling Danish film director, Lars von Trier. In fact, according to the NY Times article cited above Mr. Oplev is buying a house in the “states”, so keep an eye out for his name to appear in association with future American film projects.

And then there is the American version of  “Girl With The Golden Tattoo”, which is still in the casting stage. The director has been named. He is David Fincher and the lead role of Lisbeth Salander will go to a British actress named Carey Mulligan.  No idea to when filming will begin, but the eventual release date is tentatively scheduled for 2012. David Fincher is a well acclaimed director, whose last release was “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button”, but the choice of  Ms. Mulligan has to be a bit of a surprise, as her previous roles have portrayed very different characters.  Nonetheless, it will be interesting to see how the British actress deals with her new challenge and how the American version comes out. Mr. Fincher has some gritty and somber films to his credit, so it will be fun to see how he deals with doing a foreign repeat.

Niels Arden Oplev
Niels Arden Oplev, the director of "Girl With the Dragon Tattoo".

The Swedish version of “Dragon Tattoo”, so far has taken in over 2 million dollars worth of sales. Not much for an American film, but  respectable for a sub-titled foreign film, especially one that is not French. The other two parts of the Millenium series will be released with English subtitles later this year.

There May Be a New Stieg Larsson Book On the Way

Girl Who Played With Fire images
Girl Who Played With Fire

This book is not written by Stieg Larsson and though it may mention the writer in the title and throughout the manuscript, it is more about the process of grief. When the book is actually published (August in France is an educated guess), it will be Eva Gabrielsson’s story of how she dealt with the sudden and unexpected death of her common law husband.  Details are sketchy on the books release, mainly because of the immense popularity and financial success that has now surrounded the story of The Millenium Trilogy.

In a twenty minute interview done with a reporter for Swedish National Television (English subtitles are supplied) Ms. Gabrielsson actually reveals the plans for two books. According to the soon-to-be author, the other book will concern common-law marriages in Sweden. No title for the common-law book was mentioned, but the other title might be called “The Year After Stieg”. Again Eva seems to be deliberately vague in order to avoid too much advance publicity. Visit this site and watch the interview for details. It is well worth the time.

In fact much valuable information is presented in the interview concerning Mr. Larsson’s feminism and some insights into what early events in his life might have spurred him on to write the three novels with the female heroine.

Eva Gabrielsson

More On Stieg Larsson and the UK Release of Girl With The Golden Tattoo

Red-Eyed-Tree-Frog
Red-Eyed-Tree-Frog from Australia by Liquid Ghoul courtesy of Wikipedia

The BBC Magazine just ran another article on Stieg Larsson, this time with quotes and comments by a Anders Hellberg, who believes that Stieg Larsson was not capable of writing the Millennium series. Another colleague of Larsson’s, Kurdo Baksi, has just published a book questioning his journalism reputation. I guess all this is expected for someone, who has sold 26 million copies of a trilogy and who is not around to depend himself. Maybe the fact that Stieg Larsson began in the publishing business as a graphic designer has something to do with this.

Even so things are going well for Mr. Larsson in the film department for the film, Girl With The Golden Tattoo, is about to be released in Britian (complete with American voice-overs), but you can see the You Tube version here. You’ll have to link over to You Tube to watch it. Maybe one of these days  I’ll upgrade with wordpress and start embedding videos, but not today. The American adaption is due out later this year.

The first book (Girl With The Dragon Tattoo) is now available here in the states as a paperback, so American audiences are getting a good read on the author and will continue to do so as the other two books are released. Crime fiction always a popular read here in the states is now getting taken a bit more seriously, as are some of its related fields such as horror. Stephen King, who had his own close encounter with death not too long ago courtesy of a hit and run driver is gradually finding acceptance in more and more places. I think just last year he was invited to edit a popular short story collection by American Editions. This popular book can be found under the heading of Literary Fiction (whatever that is), all over America – a definite improvement for Mr. King.

So long for now,

E. Autumn

jacket montage
jacket montage for Stieg Larsson's Millennium trilogy

Winter In The Soul, A Cool Appraisal of Scandinavian Crime Fiction

Charles River
looking towards towards Cambridge, winter on the Charles River

“It is a world of bleak twilights and tortured souls. A world of cold dawns and dour sleuths. A world of frozen lakes and repressed detectives.”        Julia Keller of the Chicago Tribune.

So writes Julia Keller in a recent article in the Chicago Tribune, as she shares some thoughts  on the rise of the popular genre, most obvious by the rapid success of  Stieg Larsson’s trilogy and subsequent movie deals both in Europe and America.

There is an interesting blog located right here on wordpress that is solely devoted to the subject of Scandinavian Crime Fiction. This would include any writer from the nations of Finland, Denmark, Sweden, Norway, Iceland and the Faroe Islands. There are as many as a dozen names, few of which would ring a bell with American readers or the American public. You can go to this blog and find out who is publishing what and where. Also you will find some interesting  comments and insights on why this part of the world has become the hotbed of the genre, because the perceived image of Scandinavia is that this is a place where a crime fiction writer would fine little inspiration because the murder rate s so low. But just like crossing a frozen lake on a cold winter’s day, there may be more trouble ahead than one realizes for there may be a current underneath the ice or a spring creating a thin spot; and if you fall through the ice in the middle of February in Northern Sweden you chances of survival are grim.

winter light
snow and shadows

But just as northern Minnesota was a great setting for a murder mystery in the film Fargo, so has Scandinavia merged to provide the setting for quite a few murder mysteries.  Although not really known as a crime fiction writer, Peter Hoeg may have set the scene for the emergence of this popular genre with his murder mystery Smyla’s Sense of Snow. He may have also opened the door to the reality the life in Scandinavia may be overrated a bit, for there are real conflicts between industrialization and the search for a comfortable life, a point that is very well underscored at least in the film.

So on these long January nights, while your curled up on the sofa next to the warm glow of a wood fire in the fireplace, you might want to pick on of the many offerings that are now being translated into English. But don’t forget that this part of the world has a summer time also and one with very long days and short nights; so short that in some places the sun only sets for a few hours each night during late June, when the summer solstice occurs.

As a subtle reminder of the summer warmth here is a picture of a fence that borders a park in Copenhagen, Denmark. The fence has been painting with all kinds of colorful and joyous animals. Of particular note is that the park is located just across the street from Christiana, an unique part of the city that was taken over and homesteaded by hippies in the 1970’s.

So long forom the snow-covered rocky coat of Maine,

Truly,

Everett Autumn

forest graffitti
animal graffitti in Copenhagen, Denmark

Eva Gabrielsson’s Dilemma

The Millennium Trilogy

With growing movie rights and expanding book sales the Millennium trilology, a series of three crime novels written by Swedish author Stieg Larsson is generating a huge world wide interest that has traveled far beyond his native home of Sweden. Now that the new year has arrived, sales from this popular literary series continue to climb, but unfortunately the crime writer, who died of a heart attack six years ago was never able to see the fruits of his workaholic writing habit, which now surpasses 20 million (that’s in pounds). Besides the money there are the numerous awards that have been bestowed upon the popular writer, as well as a host of film and TV versions, including a Hollywood offering, which has yet to select its cast. The Swedish version has already played all across Europe.

However, the story that has been making the rounds lately, and especially since we have entered a new year, is the human drama that surrounds the vast profits., Since Larsson died in 2oo4 and he never made out a will, all the money (that’s 20 million and still growing) has gone to his brother and father.

Currently written reports have been surfacing about the fate of Eva Gabrielsson, Stieg Larsson’s longtime partner, who never married Stieg, reportedly because of the dangerous nature of Larsson’s journalistic work. Check out Stieg Larsson: Losing the plot over his cash an article published late last year by London’s Times Online and written by Helen Rumbelow.

Just recently another article published by another British online biggie, The Mail, has also delved into the peculiar financial situation that is evolving around the rather large sum of profits that the trilogy has generated and will continue to do so long into the future. This article, entitled The Girl Who Didn’t Inherit A Fortune by Antonia Hoyle was just published online a few days ago and has been generating lots of interest on the web.

And finally,  for those readers and movie fans, who would like to help out Ms. Gabrielsson in her legal battle for a portion of the sales, here is a site, where you can do just that, plus keep tabs on the developing situation, for their are even rumors of a fourth unfinished novel.

Gamla Stan in Stockholm, Sweden

Christopher Hitchens Sounds Off On Swedish Crime Fiction

Swedish Movie Poster
Swedish Movie Poster for Girl With The Dragon Tattoo

Here is the Swedish movie poster for The Girl With The Golden Tattoo, which has already been released to Scandinavian audiences at the cinema and also on DVD (Swedish only). Meanwhile back here in the states, Hollywood has purchased rights for the story, but has yet to reach the casting stage for the film.  The movie comes from a novel written by the recently-deceased (2004) Swedish author, Stieg Larsson, who is currently taking the literary world of crime fiction by storm with his recent release of a crime trilogy, of which this book is the first. Also available in English (or soon to be) are The Girl Who Played with Fire and The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest. Does Anybody see a trend here.

Recently, Stieg Larsson made headlines by picking top awards at the U.S mystery convention, Boucheron. In fact Scandinavian Crime Fiction has become the talk of the literary world, most evident that noted author and TV commentator, Christopher Hitchens, who has sounded off on the late Mr. Larsson with a recent article in Vanity Fair. Christopher does an excellent job of delving into the dark side of Swedish life and the emergence or rather the continual presence of extreme right and pro Nazi forces in modern day Sweden. Anyone, who thinks this Nordic country is a poster advertisement for idyllic Socialist life should definitely read Mr. Hitchens article and maybe even one of Mr. Larsson’s lengthy novels as well.

Dont’ forget that in the mid-eighties Sweden lost a prime minister to assassination, a crime which still has not been solved. During this era, Stieg Larsson was a reporter who wrote about Sweden’s undercurrent of drug dealings, criminals and right wing extremists, who survived and sometimes thrived in the industrial Scandinavian nation. Some readers attribute Larsson’s death at age 50 to evil forces, especially since it occurred on November 9th, the date of Hitler’s Kristallnacht, but many more suggest his death was the result of extreme overwork, chain smoking and poor nutrition. Whatever the cause of demise, the trilogy of books is causing quite a stir, not to mention that each written piece will generate a movie, both in Sweden and the U.S.

Picture of the swedisn author
Picture of the swedisn author

One important note is that Stieg had plans for at least ten full-length novels, but in reality did not get past the first three. Still, considering the length of each piece, this is quite an accomplishment in itself and I’m sure that his readers will immensely enjoy the published effort.

In recent years, Scandinavia (Iceland, Norway, Sweden, Denmark and Finland) have seen a bountiful cultural resurgence not only in literature, but also in contemporary and traditional music. Perhaps, it is the recent economic surge that has come to these northern countries or maybe it is the awakening of  old flames and aspirations. But no matter what the reason for the cultural expression,  the authors and musicians of this small corner of the world do not seem to be finished with their current creative mood.