Sweden doesn’t really have much crime, but it sure has a lot of well-known crime novelists.
One of the most recent authors to be published in English, Jens Lapidus, will be at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee on Wednesday, April 11, to talk about his thriller, “Easy Money.” UWM is one of only seven stops on a U.S. book tour for Lapidus. He is scheduled to speak at 5 p.m. in room 175, Curtin Hall, 3243 N. Downer Ave.
“Easy Money,” the first of the author’s “Stockholm Noir” trilogy, was released in English translation April 3, and a movie based on the book is due out this summer. American crime fiction writer James Ellroy described the book as “an epic European thriller to rival the Stieg Larsson books.”
In addition to a talk and book signing, UWM audiences will have a preview showing of the film version of “Easy Money,” directed by Daniel Espinoza, who also directed the current hit “Safe House.” The preview is at 9 p.m. at the Union Theater, 2200 E. Kenwood Blvd.
“Easy Money,” described as a relentless depiction of Sweden’s underworld and the reasons it exists and grows, was published in 2006 in Sweden. It was hugely popular there, according to Veronica Lundback, who teaches Swedish language and culture classes, and is organizing Lapidus’s UWM presentation. “My brother [in Sweden] told me, ‘You have to read this.’”
The Swedish Embassy is sponsoring Lapidus’s U.S. book tour, focusing on colleges and universities with Scandinavian programs. UWM’s Scandinavian Studies program is co-sponsoring his appearance here.
Although Sweden has a low crime rate, says Lundback, there is a strong market for fiction like that of Lapidus and Larsson (“Girl with the Dragon Tattoo”/Millennium Trilogy) precisely because of that tension between what’s perceived as an idyllic society and that society’s darker side.
“Crime fiction is huge in Scandinavia, and it’s been popular for a very long time,” says Lundback, who’s taught classes on crime in Scandinavian fiction and film. Maj Sjöwall and Per Wahlöö earned international attention with a series of novels following the everyday work of police detectives in Sweden in the 1960s and ’70s. And other Scandinavian authors like Henning Mankel and Larsson have expanded and diversified the genre.
As in America, the appeal of mysteries and crime novels to Swedish readers is that they offer a chance to escape into a more exciting and dangerous world, says Lundback. But they also can give authors and readers insights into social values and issues around gender, race and power, she adds.