Friday, January 23, 2009

Guardian article on Scandinavian crime fiction

Many thanks to Simon Clarke for pointing me towards this article in today's Guardian. The interest in Scandinavian crime fiction continues and increases. The article concludes that we might have more authors to come:
But the bottom line is that Scandinavian crime fiction has risen above cult status because much of it is a lot better than anything else on offer, and the person who has done most to introduce it into this country is publisher Christopher MacLehose. As head of the Harvill imprint, he bought both the translation rights of Miss Smilla's Feeling for Snow and the Wallander series, and latterly picked up Larsson's Millennium trilogy - the third comes out later this year - for his new imprint, MacLehose Press.

Not that MacLehose had any great plans to be at the vanguard of the Nordic revolution when he started out. "I bought Miss Smilla simply because I thought it was a great book," he says, "and I remember saying to a colleague at the time that, if nothing else, we were doing our bit for Danish literature. I was as surprised as anyone when it went on to sell millions worldwide."

With Scandinavian crime now this year's must-have for every genre publisher, the days of picking up unnoticed gems on the cheap are long gone. Scandinavian authors may not get the advances of a Grisham or a Connelly, but their agents are learning to be a little more greedy. Even so, things still nearly get missed.

"Larsson's trilogy had been rejected by seven or eight British publishers by the time it got to me, I'm pleased to say," MacLehose smiles. "I think a lot of publishers just fell for the old orthodoxy, born of Orion's experience that it took six books to successfully launch Ian Rankin, that you can't sell a dead foreign author who only wrote three books. Hopefully, that's another myth that's dead in the water."

But if there's one thing you can count on it's publishers following a trend, so you can be sure of hearing about a great many more Scandinavian thriller writers over the next couple of years. So who should we watch out for? "Kristian Lundberg and Jens Lapidus are two of the best crime writers who are as yet untranslated," says Maria Edstrom, Swedish literary critic. "By and large, though, the really good writers are already in print in the UK. But we still have a whole bunch of not very good thriller writers so I dare say they are heading your way".
Read the whole article, here.

Scandinavian authors that have already been translated can be found, here.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Fascinating back-story extract, Karen - as one who has read and enjoyed all these books (apart from the third Larsson which has not been translated yet), it is so interesting to read how it all came about. Thanks for linking to this article - will go off and read the whole thing now, though I expect you have extracted the best bit ;-)