Swedish “Fever” Targets Travelers Keen to Murder and Mystery
The scads of US visitors flocking to Stockholm in pursuit of best-selling author Stieg Larsson’s Millennium characters are being swept up in the latest import from Sweden: literary fever. Tales of murder, mystery, and historic intrigue by high profile Swedish authors such as Larsson, Camilla Lackberg, and Henning Mankell have recently captured the imagination of readers -- and viewers of their consequent television programs and films. This is inspiring a new wave of Swedish cultural influence in the US, and prompting fans to follow in the literal footsteps of favored protagonists.
Among the most critically acclaimed Swedish authors is Stieg Larsson, whose Millennium series is a bestseller. More than 46 million people worldwide have read the books about journalist Mikael Blomkvist and computer hacker Lisbeth Salander. And this has sparked a Millennium phenomenon that includes blogs, lectures, websites, fan clubs, and on-site tours. Scenes from “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo”, “The Girl Who Played With Fire”, and “The Girl who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest” are easily visualized during the Millennium Tour offered in Stockholm. Tour participants get an overview of locations — including Salander’s luxurious apartment — and film stops, insider information about film production, and talks about contemporary as well as historic sites on the central island of Södermalm, where the characters live and work. Moreover, the City of Stockholm itself radiates literary excellence each December when winners of the Nobel Prize for Literature, among many others, attend the Nobel Banquet at the historic City Hall. The event underscores the capital’s cultural largess. By the way, literary aficionados (and all other visitors) can dine like a Laureate at the Stadshuskallaren, City Hall Restaurant, which lists a Nobel dinner on the menu. www.stockholmtown.com
The tranquil seaside town of Ystad in the province of Skane -- popular for its white beaches and quaint timber-framed houses -- is known to the 25+ million readers of Henning Mankell’s Wallander series as the undisputed murder capital of Scandinavia. And so it is on the “must see” list of Wallander fans. Those who discover Inspector Kurt Wallander’s hometown can imagine him hurrying along the narrow, cobblestone alleys of Ystad to track down a murderer, or follow his thinking as he ponders a case over a cup of coffee in Fridolfs Konditori or his apartment on Mariagatan. Wallander tourism is a big earner for the town, especially since the release of the BBC films starring Kenneth Branagh that are based on three of Mankell’s 10 novels: “Sidetracked”, “Firewall” and “One Step Behind”. Those curious about tours and downloadable pamphlets for self-guided walks “In the Footsteps of Wallander” can visit www.skane.com.
Another favorite, Camilla Läckberg, is known as the Swedish crime queen for her psychological crime novels that began with “The Ice Princess”. Her stories take place in Fjällbacka, a beautiful fishing community dating to the 1600s located on Sweden’s West Coast north of Gothenburg. It is also Läckberg’s hometown, and she knows it very well. Läckberg highly recommends the region’s tasty shellfish and inspiring natural beauty -- Kosterhavet Marine National Park and the rocky islands of Väderöarna, as well as Fjällbacka’s cobbled streets, and red boathouses. www.westsweden.com “Gripping. Accomplished. Masterful.” are words reviewers use to describe the novels by Swedish crime writer Åke Edwardsson. Many of Edwardsson’s Inspector Erik Winter novels -- “Sun and Shadow”, “Never End”, “Death Angels”, “Frozen Tracks”, and “The Shadow Women” -- are set in Gothenburg, a seaport city on Sweden’s West Coast. A three-time winner of the Swedish Crime Writers’ Academy, Edwardsson imbues his novels with local color such as the August-long “Gothenburg Party”, a 10-day event packed with mostly free live music, theatre, comedy, dance events, and athletics.
Swedish born journalist and crime writer Liza Marklund joins Larsson for being one of only two Swedish authors to claim the No. 1 spot on the New York Times best seller list. Her novel, “The Postcard Killers” (written together with James Patterson , involves a murder-related postcard received by a Stockholm-based reporter.
But Swedish literature is not only about crime. Swedish authors have given us a wealth of characters and situations including Astrid Lindgren’s tomboy Pippi Longstocking, Vilhelm Moberg’s intrepid emigrants, August Strindberg’s iconoclastic works, and Selma Lagerlof’s portrayals of rural Swedish life. All gained inspiration from the land of their birth. For readers whose literary fever calls for a personal immersion into their Swedish author’s thoughts, characters, and lifestyles there is no better cure than a voyage to Sweden. The above-mentioned books have been translated into English and may be purchased through Barnes and Noble.