How Swede are you? The Expo Files

Posted: May 19, 2012 in notes, Scandinavia, Sweden

There have been an abundance, some might say a plethora, of books about Stieg Larsson, author of the Millennium Trilogy, and creator of a unique fictional heroine in Lisbeth Salander. Writers have to make a living and if they think there is enough interest in the journalist they have a perfect right to author a book on the subject.

But I won’t be reading all of these in a hurry:

StiegLarsson, My Friend- Kordo Baksi

Stieg & Me- Eva Gabrielsson

Stieg Larsson, Man, Myth & Mistress- Andrew McCoy

Secret of the Tattooed Girl- Dan Burstein, Arne de Keijzer, John-Henri Holmberg

The Man Who Left Too Soon- Barry Forshaw

But one book I have bought and will delve into when I have time is The Expo Files, articles by the crusading journalist, Stieg Larsson [translated by Laurie Thompson] which has an introduction by Tariq Ali. I have read this introduction and learned that Sweden’s reputation as a social democratic utopia has been creaking for some time. I never knew that during the Second World War the University of Lund invited Joseph Goebbels in order to honour him. They were spared the disgrace. Goebbels declined the invitation. Also from the introduction:

The Scandinavian joke-it took several weeks for the Germans to take Norway, a day to occupy Denmark and a telephone call to take Sweden-is based on reality.

Many will still regard Swedish crime fiction as some kind of Midsomer Murder comedy exaggeration, and think of Sweden as a low crime country with no real problems. Perusing some of the articles titles* I think this book will be an education, but certainly not easy reading. 

* The worlds’ most dangerous profession, The return of anti-Semitism, Terror killings can happen in Stockholm, Swedish and un-Swedish violence towards women.

  1. Margot Kinberg says:

    Norman – That sounds like a fascinating book! I’ll be really interested in what you think of it when you’ve had the chance to review it. I’m still shaking my head though (although I suppose I shouldn’t be at all surprised) at the sheer number of books about Larsson!

  2. Norman Price says:

    Margot, my only visit to Sweden was back in the early 1990s, when although I had read some Sjowall & Wahloo it was way before Mankell’s books, and we thought what a beautiful calm efficient country. But one thing we did notice was that little policewomen carried very big handguns!
    In England at that time you never saw armed police, now that has unfortunately changed.
    I have a huge pile of books to read and if possible want to read the International Dagger Shortlist before the judges decision, so Expo Files might have to wait a bit.
    The Stieg Larsson phenomenon has at least brought us some benefits, The Killing [TV series not the novelization] and the translation of more books by the top Scandinavian authors. I am sure it will mean some dross gets published but that is inevitable.
    Raymond Chandler’s famous essay said it all, and you could easily modify that to the average Scandinavian detective story.
    “The average detective story is probably no worse than the average novel, but you never see the average novel. It doesn’t get published. The average—or only slightly above average—detective story does. Not only is it published but it is sold in small quantities to rental libraries, and it is read.”

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