Scandinavian noir summarised

Dave Lull kindly sent me a link to an interesting article on Scandinavian crime fiction: Booklist Online – Hard-Boiled Gazetteer: Scandinavia, by Bill Ott (FEATURE). According to Bill Ott, the author, the current plethora of "Scandinavian noir" is rooted in the fall of the iron curtain and the subsequent waves of immigrants to a region that until then had been "defined by its insularity and lack of diversity". In a rich mixing of metaphors that will cause eyebrows to be raised at Language Log Plaza, Bill Ott says that the result was a "hard boiled melting pot waiting to be cracked".

Henning Mankell (Sweden) is said to be the first example of this new style, and after a potted summary of the Wallender books, Mr Ott turns to each Scandinavian country in turn, providing some "type example" authors and summaries of their books. Iceland is Arnaldur Indridason; Denmark Peter Hoeg; Norway Pernille Rygg (whom I hadn’t realised is Norwegian), Ann Holt, Karin Fossum and Gunnar Staalessen; and Sweden is Mari Junstedt, Kjell Eriksson, Kerstin Ekman, Harkan Nessar, Ake Edwardsen, Helene Tursten, Maj Sjowall/Per Wahloo and Asa Larsson. No mention of my favourite, Liza Marklund. It’s a good article, though, and worth reading if you’d like a brief tour of the main stops along the snowy wastes of ice-cold noir.

4 thoughts on “Scandinavian noir summarised

  1. A good way of seeing the world – without even moving from your seat..well one bit of it anyway. I’ve heard Hoeg has given up writing now. I wonder if that is true and if so, why.

  2. I hadn’t heard that, Clare, interesting. I thought Miss Smilla’s feeling for snow was quite brilliant for the first two-thirds, but got just silly at the end (after she goes on the boat, but especially the denoument). I loved the aspects about Eskimo rights and her relationship with her father.
    However, I read two or three more books by him and to me they could not hold a candle to Miss Smilla. (The one about the strange school was not exactly bad, but not good either.) I was so disappointed, because I thought he was a real talent. Maybe he just realised he’d run out of steam?
    I have not read all the scandinavian noir listed here, maybe about half of them, but those that I have, I’ve enjoyed very much.

  3. The list is a nice starting point that may guide me in my reading. I don’t remember if it mentions Håkan Nesser’s unusual sense of humor, but then, if it offered detailed looks at each author, Ott would have run out of bandwidth. It’s a fine and useful piece.
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