Tuesday, 16 October 2012

Swedish novels

I have been reading three novels by Camilla Lackberg. I am not fluent in Swedish so I have been reading English translations. Different cultures see things in different ways. same but different.

As you probably already know Camilla Lackberg is the most popular writer in Sweden today. She is young and beautiful, and has quickly produced a stream of crime novels all set in the region where she once lived.

You can get more information from here.


The Ice Princess is first in this series. Then comes The Preacher. Then The Stone Cutter. There are more in the series, but I have not tried them yet.

The books are set in the small holiday resort town of Fjallbacka, in northern Bohuslan. I looked it up on Google maps. Thousands of tourists visit this town in summer but for the remainder of the year there would be barely 1000 residents. The mixture of people makes the place a good site for the stories.

These books all follow a formula. Same central characters. Same region, town, general minor characters. The story is always an example of how horrible some people can be. The heroes of course solve the crime; good triumphs over evil. Then there is a little section where hidden elements are exposed to view. The reader may have worked out this dialogue or not, but it is made plain. I like this gradual conclusion with all details securely finalised for me.  The characters are well drawn and usually believable, just as if you worked with people like this.

Would I recommend these novels? Yes. The Preacher was really good, I thought, and had me awake long into the night to finish it. Actually, I did not enjoy The Stone Cutter as much. One or two of the characters were outside my world completely.

The following is from Camilla Lackberg's website.

Camilla was 29 when she published her first novel, The Ice Princess, in 2003. Three years later, her prize-winning books were topping the Swedish bestseller lists. It might seem that everything’s gone smoothly for her. But Camilla actually began her professional life as an economist, the world of the novelist seeming light years away...
Camilla Läckberg was born in 1974, and grew up in Fjällbacka on the west coast of Sweden, just by the Norwegian bite. As a girl, she was always telling stories and drawing little tales that she’d put together into books. The first such book, called Tomten (The Goblin), which she wrote when she was only four or five years old, was a gory, hair-raising four-pager. Her fascination for murder mysteries has always been there – perhaps as a contrast to the idyllic tracts of her childhood home. But writing remained merely a dream for Camilla, who went on to study economics at the School of Economics and Commercial Law at Göteborg University. After graduating, she moved to Stockholm, where she spent a couple of years working as an economist. Unhappy years, that is, with her dream of being a novelist still holding her in its thrall. She was finally given a course for Christmas by her husband, mother and brother. It was a crime-writing course organised by writers’ association Ordfront, and as she studied, she began the story that came to be her debut novel: The Ice Princess. Her tutor advised her to set the plot in a place she knew well, and where better than her childhood home?

The Ice Princess was accepted in the same week as Camilla gave birth to her son, Wille, and was published in 2003. Her second book, The Preacher, was released in 2004, followed by The Stonecutter in 2005 and The Jynx in 2006. In April 2007 it was time for her fifth novel The German Child. May 2008 saw two new books reach the shelves, one of which was a complete departure from the crime genre. The first of these was The Mermaid, the sixth book in the series about Fjällbacka residents Patrik and Erika; the second was a cookery book, which she put together with celebrity chef and childhood friend Christian Hellberg.Smaker från Fjällbacka (The taste of Fjällbacka) is a culinary celebration of Fjällbacka and the food that Camilla and Christian associate with life on the west coast. The latest book to be published in Sweden is the seventh book about Patrik and Erika: The Lighthouse Keeper.
Camilla’s novels have enjoyed critical acclaim and her popularity has grown steadily. She is Sweden’s top-selling author, and to date she has sold over 5 million books. She won the Folket literary prize in 2006, and in the autumn of the following year found another of her dreams fulfilled when her first two books were dramatised and shown on national television.

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