Swedish Mysteries Across the Pond Posted by Marcus Cederström on Aug 25, 2010 in Culture
A quick look at the New York Times Bestseller List (really any of the fiction lists) shows just how dominant the Stieg Larsson mysteries are right now. The Girl Who Kicked the Hornets Nets is number one on the hardcover list. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo and The Girl Who Played with Fire are numbers one and two respectively on the paperback lists. It’s an impressive showing, and a showing that has continued for quite some time now.
Even the movies, in Swedish, are increasingly popular. So much so that they are going to be remade in Hollywood. Plenty of people are upset by this, seeing it as unnecessary; others see it as confirmation of the widespread appeal of the films.
But the popular Swedish mysteries don’t begin and end with Stieg Larsson. Earlier this year, Henning Mankell, another Swedish writer of crime novels, made it to the list. Mankell is most famous for his protagonist, Kurt Wallander who spends the majority of his time in Ystad in southern Sweden. The fictional Wallander has become so popular that there are tours through Ystad in his honor.
I’ll be honest; I haven’t read all of the Larsson books. In fact, I’ve only managed to get myself through Män som hatar kvinnor (the Swedish title for The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo). They are long. Really long. And it took me quite a while to get into the book. I had been warned that would be the case but wasn’t quite prepared to read about 300 pages before it grabbed my attention.
The books are incredibly detailed, sometimes to a fault, but the characters are engaging, and the plot exciting. If you’re interested in Swedish pop culture, the books offer a glimpse of a very different view of Swedish society than what most people think of when they think of Sweden.
Have you been caught up in the popularity of Swedish detective mysteries?