Tuesday, December 21, 2010


Last night we watched Nordic Noir: The Story of Scandinavian Crime Fiction on BBC4.
We really enjoyed one of the most intelligent discussions about crime fiction, and its ability to address the problems of society that I have seen on television. A lot more than the Stieg Larsson phenomenon was covered, and it even got Mrs Crime Scraps interested. When it comes to crime fiction usually Mrs C is a one man girl, and that man is Tony Hillerman, but this program was great marketing for several superb authors.
There were thoughtful contributions from authors Maj Sjowall, Hakan Nesser, Jo Nesbo, Karin Fossum, and actor Krister Henriksson.
Henriksson spoke with emotion about the lovely actress Johanna Sallstrom, and convinced me that British actors should not attempt to play introspective Swedes such as Kurt Wallander.
It is like a Swede playing Lord Peter Wimsey.

Hakan Nesser was amusing, as he was at Crime Fest 2009, but he also spoke about the traumatic effect the shooting of Olaf Palme had on the Swedish people. Their 9/11 he called it.
Maj Sjowall spoke about her pleasure at working with Per Wahloo in the evenings on the ten books that make up the story of a crime from 1965-1975.
Jo Nesbo made interesting comments on the effect sudden wealth had on the social fabric of Norway.
Stieg Larsson was praised as a great campaigning journalist, and the Pippi Longstocking genesis of the character of Lisbeth Salander was analyzed.
And of course Krister Henriksson and the other contributors discussed Henning Mankell's Kurt Wallander at length.
There were shots of dramatic Icelandic scenery, and the iconic clip of Arnaldur Indridason's Erlendur tucking into his sheep's head in the film Jar City.
Hopefully next week's Italian Noir program might have some more enticing meals.

Incidentally was Karin Fossum [who was charming at Crime Fest 2008] telling us that she wanted the reader to care about her victims, and the isolated communities they live in that captured Mrs Crime Scraps interest.
My only criticism of the program was that new stars Johan Theorin, and Anders Roslund/ Borge Hellstrom, and leading sellers Liza Marklund and Camilla Lackberg, were not mentioned.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Great summary, Norman. I agree that the programme managed to avoid Stieg mania (I liked the way it related Lisbeth Salander to Miss Smilla, Peter Hoeg's Danish/Greenland creation), and focus on some other authors but as you point out, missing many including the significant Kirsten Eckman (Blackwater) and others such as Ake Edwardsen, Kjell Erickson, Yrsa Siguradardottier, K O Dahl and not forgetting Lisa Marklund, Asa Larsson and Helene Tursten. Obviously you can't include everyone, and a TV programme is always going to be oversimplified so on the whole I agree they did a good job, but they missed out on some of the better authors from the region I think.

I was pleased they drew attention to Arnaldur Indridason, though. He's easily as good as Mankell and S Larsson, on whom the programme mainly focused. I also liked the Sjowall/Wahloo sections.

6:42 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

PS forgot to mention Karin Alvtegen, whose remarkably varied books cover the whole S Larsson thriller and everyone else's gloom and all points inbetween, in the three works Betrayal, Missing and Shadow, all so different.

6:46 AM  
Blogger Uriah Robinson said...

I agree and thanks for pointing out I forgot to mention the Peter Hoeg Greenland bits. My memory is going it must be that I lost another million brain cells under the anaesthetic in March or watching The Apprentice!

7:02 AM  
Blogger Dorte H said...

Jealousy, the green-eyed monster was here. Why don´t the send us a documentary like that?

I am glad they mentioned Peter Høgh as he is the only one of my Danish favourites who have been translated, and I keep my fingers crossed that the Americans will publish "The Suitcase Boy" in 2011 (a debut I enjoyed immensely as Danish thrillers of that quality are rare).

7:33 AM  
Blogger Jose Ignacio Escribano said...

I wish I could have watched Nordic Noir and look forward to your review of next week's Italian Noir.

7:37 AM  
Blogger Mediations said...

Yes, it was well done, wasn't it? The author interviews were uniformly interesting - you could have spent an interesting evening with any of them, not least the ever-engaging Håkan Nesser. The Van Vetereen novels are good, but he has so many other novels with fantastic titles and covers that I would love to see translated.

I also thought Krister Henriksson came across well, not least with some insights into what was clearly quite a complicated relationship with Johanna Sällström.

One quibble would be with presenter Mariella Frostrup's pronunciation. Many Scandinavian names do not drop easily into English but she could have tried a bit harder - not least when native speakers were showing her how it was done!

10:57 AM  
Blogger Vanda Symon said...

I hope the doco finds its way down here - sounds great.

5:39 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Agreed on the pronounciation - Maj Sjowall!! What a challenge that is, now I know how it is supposed to be done.

Agreed on the Johanna/Krister aspect, also, that was painful and poignant.

5:14 AM  
Anonymous kathy d. said...

Another green with envy reaction over here in the states.

Wish that program would show on PBS here.

Kjell Eriksson writes excellent books, am so glad to hear that more will be published in English.

And, Soho Crime will be publishing more of Helene Turston's Irene Huss series--cheers to that.

Although I sped through the Larsson Millennium Trilogy, and greatly enjoyed the characters and story, I would say that Indridason is a better writer, in terms of style and evocation of emotions. But his writing is altogether different from Larsson's, so maybe a comparison is futile.

I was for "Hypothermia" winning the Dagger, and it's up there among my top reads of the year.

Will read more Sjowall/Wahloo, and start on Edwardson, Dahl and
Marklund in 2011.

And due to Petrona, have read two by Nesser, whose books I can't put down once I start them. I can't even characterize the style. It's terse, to the point, action-oriented, yet understanding of human emotions, with a very sharp police detective, whose humor is just as sharp--sometimes unexpected. Then I think, "Is this what he's saying? And I laugh out loud."

Just the different writing styles of the Nordic writers is interesting.

Wish there was more discussion of this over here on tv.

11:30 PM  
Blogger Martin Edwards said...

Very good account of a good programme.

2:11 PM  
Blogger Mediations said...

Maxine, I think the only way to learn how to pronounce Sjöwall is to ask Maj and listen very, very carefully! "Sjö" is one of those sounds that changes quite a lot depending on region. Her friends in Stockholm would say it quite differently than those in Lund or Malmö. If I were you I would pretend to be a posh Stockholmer and go with "share-vall" rather than the Skåne "phwair-vall" which begins with a sort of whistle.

6:19 AM  

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