Stieg Larsson in the Library Journal

Via Dave Lull, Wilda Williams of the Library Journal hosts a Q&A with Sonny Mehta, editor in chief of Knopf and Paul Bogaards, the publisher's executive director of publicity, about Stieg Larsson's Millennium trilogy. From the article:

SM: I have to say that these books just keep getting better. I think Book 2 is better than Book 1, and Book 3 is better than Book 2. It's extraordinary that Larsson was able to outdo himself with each successive work.

Prior to its U.S. publication, there had been a great deal of online buzz about The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. So in a way, Knopf  had a ready-made audience before the book’s debut. What role did your marketing efforts help in the novel's success? And how did libraries contribute to its commercial success?

PB: It’s true that we worked very hard to seed the book with the online community, and with influentials in the mystery blogger community. We sent out advance reading copies (ARCs) and allowed some early publicity to take place. This is an international community of fans you’re talking about, and so even before the books had been translated to English, the online community was buzzing. Word got out.

There is more in the article about the trilogy's impact and about the author himself. The same issue of Library Journal features a brief review of The Girl Who Played with Fire, which is out in the US in August. Readers in the UK can look forward to reading the final novel in the trilogy, The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest, in October.

My review of The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo

My review of The Girl Who Played with Fire

Round-up post on Petrona: Stieg Larsson flies to new heights

Articles about Stieg Larsson and his books on crime-fiction journeys.


5 thoughts on “Stieg Larsson in the Library Journal

  1. Great post, roundup and links Maxine. It seems the Stieg Larsson phenomenon will get bigger with the release in October of TGWPWF. Let us hope we get some ARCs?

  2. In your review of Larsson’s newest portion of the trilogy, you said: “Nevertheless, despite these flaws (some of which the author might have revised before publication had he lived) this book is truly powerful.” This has been noted elsewhere by others (also in connection with the first Larsson novel), but it is an extremely important point. Posthumous publications of works bring with them singular challenges to editors, executors, and publishers. Changing any portion of a text (with no author available for consultation) is a daunting ethical and aesthetic problem. (For some reason I’m reminded here of the posthumous publications of Emily Dickinson’s poems. We can never know Dickinson’s true intent. Therefore, are we, in fact, reading Dickinson’s poems as she would have wanted us to read them?) In Larsson’s case, should editors, executors, or publishers make changes? If so, which ones? Why? Should readers be permitted to see it all–warts and all–or should readers see only what the editors, executors, and publishers think is Larsson’s best work? What would Larsson have done? Perhaps those are rhetorical questions with answers for which there can be no agreement.

  3. My colleagues and I at Nature have been in similar situations occasionally, R.T., when an author has died before an article could be published (or has even had a decision about publication made). Sometimes there is no co-author or close colleague who can assist with editors’ queries. These are scientific articles, not novels, though.
    With Stieg Larsson there is the additional factor of the translation, another bridge between author and reader. In fact, I think the translator of these books (Reg Keeland/Steven T Murray) has some views on your questions.
    Norman, yes indeed! Mind you, if not, I enjoyed the first two books enough to shell out for the third.

  4. Hi R.T., Believe me, TGWTDT went through several hands before it saw the light of day in Swedish, and even more (including mine) before it came out in the UK. As it stands, you’d have to do a line by line comparison to find all the changes that were made. Stieg did live long enough to discuss and go over some of the changes made by his editor at his Swedish publisher. Unfortunately the same is not true of the English version — and his English was excellent. The Swedish original is liberally sprinkled with some of the hippest English I’ve ever seen from a Swede, most of it of the American persuasion. As for executor, his partner Eva Gabrielsson was intended to do that, but because of antiquated Swedish laws regarding unmarried couples (dating back to German medieval law) and the fact that he died intestate, this function has essentially fallen to his Swedish publisher, since his blood relatives are known neither for their literary bent nor skill.
    What you are reading in English is thus removed by several degrees from the original manuscript.

  5. Thanks for the comment, Reg. Good of you to take the time to clarify. I am sorry to read this, it is very sad.

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