Stieg’s friends

Just over a week ago I mentioned that I was in agreement with Sara Paretsky about ‘something’. I’m now able to tell you that it was regarding a book about Stieg Larsson, which will soon hit a bookshop near you. Or perhaps an online one. It is being ‘assembled’ by Dan Burstein and Arne de Keijzer, in cooperation with Stieg’s friend John-Henri Holmberg.

They have, sensibly, asked a number of people close to Stieg to write about their own friendships with him, and one such friend is Annika Bryn, crime writer from Stockholm. She was uncertain about joining in the venture, so asked for advice before writing her piece. Sara Paretsky very wisely pointed out it’s important to have female voices in this book, and we both agreed Annika should write her bit.

Here is the link to Annika’s blog, where she describes her feelings about deciding, and as you can see from my translation, Stieg’s partner Eva Gabrielsson doesn’t like the idea of the book, but his brother was keen for Annika to do it.

‘The fourth thing was to decide whether I wanted to write an essay for a future book about Stieg, and if so, to negotiate with the people behind it.

I was uncertain until the last minute, declined once, and asked three wise women for advice – one professor, an American crime writer, and Bookwitch. All three supported me throughout. Thank you! I also tried to speak to Eva Gabrielsson, but couldn’t get hold of her, to let her know I was taking part in the book, and spoke to Joakim Larsson, who thought it would make interesting reading. And for anyone new to this blog who happens to wonder, I’m obviously of the opinion that Eva should inherit her husband Stieg, which Joakim is aware of.

I know Eva is not keen on this book being published at all, but unsure why. Her own book is published in French this month.

The Tattooed Girl

It’s successful writing partners Dan Burstein and Arne de Keijzer, in cooperation with John-Henri Holmberg, an old friend of Stieg’s, who are publishing this book about Stieg, with the help of a lot of other people. It will be out in Germany, England and the US in May, June and July. And it’s for this that I’ve been writing my bit.’

Dan Burstein has previously written a similar book about another Dan B, so I’m guessing he works out who is big and whose name will sell. Annika won’t make a lot of money out of this, but ultimately I feel it’s more important for readers to learn about another side to Stieg, than to count the dollars. Not that it’s my money, or my essay, or my dead friend.

But I’d be interested to see a copy of the book.

9 responses to “Stieg’s friends

  1. If you and Sara Paretsky are for it, then I am sure at least her portion will be done with integrity. People do want to know more about him and the idea of friends sharing their own anecdotes sounds right to me.

  2. Glad we could team up to help Annika. She was thoughtful throughout the process, acted with a lot of integrity, and I was greatly impressed by how she thought about it. You Swedes make us Americans look bad by thinking and writing better English than we do!

  3. Not sure about the last sentence, Sara, but I too felt it was good that Annika didn’t just rush into this. Dead friends are tricky, in that you can do a lot and they can’t defend themselves.

  4. John-Henri Holmberg

    Dead friends are tricky indeed, particularly if they valued their privacy and tended to talk very little about themselves, both of which characterized Stieg. When Stieg died, I wrote about him in two magazines – Jury, the Swedish journal about crime fiction, and Nova Science Fiction – but never expected to write more about him. Nor did I, over the next five years. My reason for doing so now is mainly that I’ve read a fair amount of what others have written about him, and been unable to recognize in it the man I knew for more than 30 years (we met at a science fiction convention in 1972). Whether I’ll be able to give a decent picture of Stieg myself will obviously be for others to decide, but at least I’ve tried.

  5. Hej, John-Henri. Trevligt att du hittade hit. Såg dig på tv för några veckor sedan i Nordic Noir.

    I’m sure you will have done Stieg justice. As I said to Annika, what we readers/fans want is true but personal accounts. We can’t go to a book signing and meet him, or hear him speak at an event. It’s for you and others to provide a little something to make up for this.

  6. John-Henri Holmberg

    Hej själv. Rysning. Har aldrig riktigt stått ut med att se eller höra mig själv i TV eller radio.
    And one more thing, which you as – I assume – a Swede must have noted if you’ve read the Millennium novels in English: the translations are awful. Stieg was certainly no artful stylist, but the English version of his novels verges on illiteracy. That the books have managed to attract millions of readers in spite of this handicap is amazing; I suppose it’s a tribute to his gifts as a storyteller, but it’s sadly also one more confirmation of the suspicion that the vast majority of readers are deaf to style. Sad, not least since my guess is that most other translations will have been made from the English rather than the original versions.

  7. Haha. Jag blev intervjuad på tevenyheterna en gång. Det var det värsta jag sett och hört.
    No, I never read them in English. Perhaps I should take a closer look. Though even ‘Reg Keeland’ claimed on this blog (probably two years ago) that the American translation is better.

  8. John-Henri Holmberg

    I think you should. And write about it. Lately, an increasing number of English-language comments on Stieg’s novels have been highly negative, pointing out the poverty of language, pedantic unimaginativeness of prose and lack of humour characterizing the novels. Which is all true – in their English versions. As for the British versus the American editions, there are differences between them, but at least judging from a cursory check, they seem fairly insignificant and seemingly random. On the whole, apart from minor editing the two versions are identical.

  9. Pingback: What (some) men (might) think of women | Bookwitch

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