Author after author after author has been translated. Many wonderful, talented Nordic writers have become available to English-speakers for the first time after Stieg Larsson's 'Millennium Trilogy' lit the fuse on groundwork kickstarted by Sjowall and Wahloo, then Henning Mankell. Now our pages - and screens - are filled with dark and thought-provoking tales from Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Finland, and Iceland.
In August, little old New Zealand returns serve.
SOMETHING IS ROTTEN, the recently released debut thriller from Adam Sarafis (the crime writing partnership of Swedish-born novelist Linda Olsson and playwright Thomas Sainsbury), will be published in Sweden by Massolit Forlag. In Swedish. A rarity for an antipodean crime tale.
When I interviewed Olsson and Sainsbury back in April for a feature article in the Weekend Herald, they shared their love for Scandinavian crime fiction and its mix of dark crime and social issues. However, when I asked whether - given their passion for Nordic Noir and sociological themes, and Linda's own background - they'd thought of setting their trilogy overseas (eg Scandinavia), they were emphatic. "We didn't think about setting it somewhere else, it just kind of naturally came to New Zealand," said Thomas, before Linda, who moved to New Zealand after a business career in Sweden and abroad, elaborated:
"We were really interested in the political situation in New Zealand, and the vulnerability that comes from being so reliant on exports of agricultural products. Also from my perspective the constant discussion in Europe of restriction of imports of agricultural products. I was very interested in how that looked from the European perspective, and the New Zealand perspective, and I think there is very little knowledge and understanding of New Zealand’s situation."INGENTING AR GLOMT (the Swedish title), sees former government terrorism advisor Sam Hallberg working as a local mechanic when he’s approached by a sex worker certain the grisly death of her friend wasn’t a suicide. As Hallberg reluctantly delves into the case, a search for a missing manuscript starts pulling on threads that entangle with business journalist Lynette Church’s investigation of dirty politics in relation to New Zealand’s meat exports. The first instalment in a planned trilogy, ‘the Matakana series’, it's an intriguing tale that blends plenty of page-turning thrills with thought-provoking themes relating to dealing with past tragedies, power imbalances, and the nexus between business, politics and the media.
In other words, it's reminiscent of some of the best Scandi-noir in thought-provoking theme, if not setting.
It will be interesting to see how Linda's hometown audience responds to her first crack at crime fiction. Her earlier books, which are poignant novels about love and loss, past secrets, and unlikely friendships, have been very well received, selling hundreds of thousands of copies across several European languages.
You can read the Weekend Herald feature on the writing of INGENTING AR GLOMT here.