Former leading New Zealand publisher and bookseller, and widely experienced judge of both the Commonwealth Writers Prize and the Montana New Zealand Book Awards, talks about what he is currently reading, what impresses him and what doesn't, along with chat about the international English language book scene, and links to sites of interest to booklovers.
Wednesday, July 22, 2015
The couple who invented Nordic Noir
Maj Sjöwall and her late partner paved the way for Stieg Larsson and Jo Nesbø. Jake Kerridge meets her
Partners in crime: Per Wahlöö and Maj Sjöwall, left, co-wrote ground-breaking novelsPhoto: Scanpix/PA Photos
By Jake Kerridge
The Telegraph - 19 July 2015
Imagine a parallel universe in whichStieg Larssonand Jo Nesbø wrote gentle detective stories set in country houses and vicarages. This might well have been the world we’d be living in if, more than half a century ago, an eminent Swedish journalist called Per Wahlöö had not fallen in love with a young publisher named Maj Sjöwall.
The couple decided to write a series of 10 detective stories featuring a decent but dyspeptic policeman called Martin Beck. The project took a decade, and the final volume was published shortly after Wahlöö died, aged 48, in 1975.
Over the years I’ve spoken to more Scandinavian crime writers than I’ve had hot smörgåsbords, and without exception they have cited Sjöwall and Wahlöö as the begetters of what we now know as Nordic Noir. According to Henning Mankell, the couple were pioneers of realism and political engagement in the detective story: “I think that anyone who writes about crime as a reflection of society has been inspired to some extent by what they wrote,” Mankell has said. More