Friday, August 22, 2008

Tattoo You Two

You may recall that I was excited earlier this year about the English-language debut of the late Swedish journalist-novelist Stieg Larsson’s The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, volume one in his “Millennium Trilogy.” With the coming release next month of an American edition of that same crime opus, it seems my inclination to applaud Larsson’s work is being shared worldwide. Jeanne Rudbeck writes in Sweden’s The Local:
The Swedish Academy, which awards the Nobel Prize in Literature, has not yet asked my opinion. But when they do, I’ll advise the distinguished committee that the world’s most prestigious literary award for 2008 should go to Stieg Larsson.

It is remotely possible that they won’t heed my advice. For starters, they’d have to take the highly unusual measure of awarding it posthumously. The Swedish author died of a heart attack in 2004, aged 50, shortly before his Millennium Trilogy became a worldwide phenomenon.

Reviewers throw around epithets such as “masterpiece,” “the total detective novel” and “a major literary work.” The French translator compared Millennium to Balzac’s Human Comedy. In Denmark, the first volume has outsold all other books bar the Bible. Will Larsson catch up with God? It’s not out of the question.

The hype is justified. I opened the first book, “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo,” and did not come up for air for 500 pages. Career tip: Do not start reading on Sunday night. Before you know it the clock says 7 a.m. and you realize with shock that you are going to arrive late for your 8 a.m. meeting unshowered and with bloodshot eyes.
It now seems that the Millennium Trilogy is attracting visitors to Sweden, who have been captivated by Larsson’s narrative. In a separate article, The Local reports:
On a recent sun-drenched evening in Stockholm, fans of the bestselling “Millennium” crime trilogy by the late Stieg Larsson met up for a walking tour of the sites featured in the books that have taken Europe by storm.”

Here’s the street where Mikael Blomkvist (the hero of the series) lives in an apartment with a view of the Riddarfjärden canal,” Pia Maria Hallberg, a guide with the Stockholm City Museum, explains in Swedish to the group of 40 people as they stop outside number one on Bellmansgatan street.

”The street was named in honour of poet and composer Carl Michael Bellman who was born in one of these buildings in the 18th century,” she says.

It’s 6:00 pm, and the Stieg Larsson buffs have just begun their tour on Södermalm, one of the many islands that make up the city of Stockholm and which is the scene of much of the intrigue in the trilogy.
Meanwhile, Euro Crime’s Karen Meek previews The Girl Who Played with Fire, the second Millennium volume. She has an extract and story synopsis here. This second Larsson work in English translation will not be released until January of next year, but I already have an early copy (thanks to Quercus managing director Mark Smith), so will offer my thoughts to Rap Sheet readers in advance of publication. Smith’s quick opinion? He says he was “blown away” by this sequel.

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