So far I am loving Island of the Naked Women by Inger Frimansson, excellently translated (into American English) by Laura A. Wideburg. About two-thirds of the way through the novel, Tobias travels by train to a small village to give a talk about the books he writes.
After a while, he noticed the woman sitting next to him was looking at him.
"Excuse me," she said. "Aren't you that author?"
"This one?" he lifted it and pointed to his name on the cover. She peered at the cover nearsightedly, and then held out her hand to introduce herself.
"Asa Svedsson. I'm a teacher of Swedish. But we haven't…uh..used any of your books in our classes."
"Well, I haven't written that many."
"True. And that genre…well, I saw you on TV, which is why I recognized you. Do you write short stories any longer? I liked your short stories."
"Well, you can't survive on those. Nor from poetry."
She looked at him over her glasses.
"What? I though that writers wrote because of an inner drive, because they had to."
"You're one hundred per cent correct there."
"I didn't mean it quite like that."
"So what did you mean?"
"It's really not my business, but you seem to have sold out."
"You make me sound like a prostitute! Is the mystery genre worse than others? Is that what you're really saying?"
"You will hardly win a Nobel Prize writing that stuff."
Tobias began to get angry. "I don't care about the Nobel Prize! I'm trying to make a living by writing! Give the readers a good story they'll enjoy! Why are mysteries seen as less than real literature? Some works are asl good as Singer or Marquez. It's old-fashioned to look down on mystery novels. Times have changed. In your field, you ought to know that."
She took off her glasses and began to clean them carefully.
"I haven't read your latest book," she admitted. "I remember when it came out. I thought, 'too bad, another good author is falling into the crime novel pit.' I thought it was a great pity."
Thanks to Karen of Euro Crime for my copy of this book.
Inger Frimansson's books reviewed at Euro Crime.
Review of Island of the Naked Women at International Noir Fiction.
Read another extract from the book at the author's website (especially if you would like the title explained!).
Inger Frimansson's website.