Northern noir-ish author event

According to my informant, someone who shall remain anonymous, asked Ian Rankin if the reason his early books have not been translated into Swedish is because they were so bad it wasn’t worth the effort. I believe Ian’s reply was reasonably polite. Anon then suggested it didn’t matter because Swedes only want trashy crime to read on the beach.


I’m afraid this secondhand information about an author event in late November is really very late. How I have nagged my informant! Finally nailed him down before dinner last night.

Gunnar Staalesen, Catherine Lockerbie and Ian Rankin

It seems Edinburgh didn’t receive just a Christmas tree from Norway, but crime writer Gunnar Staalesen came over for a chat with his colleague Ian Rankin. It was organised jointly by the university and the Norwegian consulate. And the people with the tree.

Gunnar spoke to students at the university in the morning, before a public event at the Scottish Storytelling Centre in the evening. Jenny Brown moderated and I gather that Gunnar’s translator Don Bartlett was there as well. Don translates from Norwegian despite not speaking the language, and he can finish a book in just a few months.

Since I can’t compete with this very excellent piece in The Scotsman, I won’t try. For facts about Gunnar and his Bergen detective Varg Veum, who is a sort of Norwegian Philip Marlowe-Lew Archer-Sam Spade type, you can pop over and read the interview.

I understand that wherever Gunnar goes in Bergen he is stopped by people wanting him to commit murder in their street. Must be their Viking genes.

And I do wonder if he’s hinting at doing away with his ‘Wolf’ detective, because he’s too old. Varg Veum, not Gunnar Staalesen.

Gunnar Staalesen, Catherine Lockerbie ans Ian Rankin

Ian Rankin can always murder a Nordic citizen next time, if he feels like it. Otherwise I believe a good time was had by all.

11 responses to “Northern noir-ish author event

  1. Bookwitch – fyi the chairwoman in your pics is Jenny Brown, not Catherine Lockerbie. Sounds like a fascinating event, whoever moderated it!

  2. Thank you! I knew informants are not to be trusted. Actually, I found her name in the pre-event information. My fault.
    (I hope she really is Jenny Brown?)

  3. I think I said that Catherine Lockerbie wasn’t the moderator, so apparently I was ignored!

  4. Will go and read the interview now! Thanks Bookwitch. BTW, did anyone see the programme about Italian Noir? I was struck by how different it was both from Anglo-Saxon crime and also Nordic crime. I hadn’t heard of most of the writers but they seem quite interesting, some of them. This was native Italians, of course, not Dibdin or Leon. Has anyone out there read any Italian books of this kind?

  5. Programme was on BBC 4 by the way. Available on Iplayer.

  6. It clashed with something else. Maybe I should make a point of watching it on iPlayer. I know very little about Italian crime. There is an Italian crime fan I’ve come across on many blogs, who seems to know a lot.

  7. Ian – seems to me you are still being ignored!

    Bookwitch – yes, she definitely is, unless it’s someone doing an incredible impersonation.

  8. By the way, I’ve just seen that I’m called Write to be Published. I’ve no idea how that happened – I’m really Nicola Morgan. Or was last time I looked. Curiouser etc.

  9. I know you’re Nicola. But nobody else does.

    It’s coming back to me. He said the moderator was someone who’s head of a literary agency, or some such. So that fits.

  10. I’ve read Italian crime writer Gianrico Carofiglio’s books, love them. And I’m now seriously addicted to Andrea Camilleri’s Inspector Montalbano series. Nothing like it. So far the murders are off the page, no gore and gratuitous violence. Montalbano is aging and cursing what he can’t do as well as in his youth. He has a wicked sense of humor and is always thinking about his next meal, eating or reminiscing about it–as most Italian detectives do. I read one Camilleri to get over a bad, shocking book and another one to welcome in the new year and rest after too much partying and eating. I came to reading his books last year and wish it had been earlier. But now, with steely resolve, I must only read them sparingly, or I’ll not have anything left, like a great dessert.

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