According to Julie Bosman at the New York Times, a short story by the 17-year-old Stieg Larsson will be published in English for the first time next year. The unpublished story is part of a new anthology of crime fiction, A Darker Shade of Sweden, scheduled for release in February, 2014. Mysterious Press, an imprint of Grove/Atlantic, is the publisher.
In addition to this work by Stieg Larsson, the anthology collects 16 other stories from 19 Swedish writers, including Henning Mankell and Håkan Nesser, Åsa Larsson, Maj Sjöwall and Per Wahlöö, Åke Edwardson, Inger Frimansson, and Sara Stridsberg. Eva Gabrielsson, Stieg Larsson’s companion, has also written a story – her first published piece of fiction – that will be included in the book.
John-Henri Holmberg, a writer and close friend of Stieg’s, has edited the anthology and contributes an introduction in which he gives a historical overview of crime fiction in Sweden, which began in the late 1800s but today holds a stronger position than at any previous time.
Holmberg was also a key part of our team that wrote and edited our 2011 book, The Tattooed Girl: The Enigma of Stieg Larsson and the Secrets Behind the Most Compelling Thrillers of Our Time. Among other commentaries in The Tattooed Girl, Holmberg wrote a piece discussing a number of the short stories Stieg Larsson had written in his late teens and twenties, noting that they often combined his love for both science fiction and crime fiction. The very young Stieg Larsson already gave evidence of being a gifted storyteller, even if his command of his craft was still in development. Even in Larsson’s earliest fiction, some of the themes that would become central to the Millennium novels were already present. “Most particularly,” according to Holmberg, “the idea that governments will inevitably place their own interests before those of their citizens, and that in any clash between the wishes of government and the rights of individuals, individual rights will be dispensed with.”
The Tattooed Girl has much more to say about both the youth and early readings and writings of Stieg Larsson, his later life and untimely death, and not least of his creations – The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo and the other novels in the Millennium Trilogy. The Tattooed Girl is available from Amazon.com.
As for the forthcoming title, A Darker Shade of Sweden, Holmberg tells us it is primarily intended as a showcase anthology of currently active Swedish crime writers. Even so, it contains two stories by no longer current authors: that of Stieg Larsson and one by the writing team Maj Sjöwall and Per Wahlöö, who wrote their ten-volume series about Martin Beck in the late 1960s and early 1970s. There is, however, a special reason to include these particular two despite their age. Holmberg notes:
“In a very real sense, Sjöwall and Wahlöö both defined Swedish crime writing during the period from the early 1970s and until the advent of Stieg Larsson, and brought international attention to Swedish crime authors. Theirs were the first Swedish crime novels to become international bestsellers. And after their novels, for a period of thirty years Swedish crime fiction was largely written along the lines set out by them. The earlier, more idyllic puzzle novels where amateur detectives solved crimes disappeared, to be replaced by much darker stories about professional policemen in gritty, urban settings.
“This changed again in the 2000s, and the primary agent of change this time was Stieg Larsson. In the wake of his novels, Swedish crime fiction has become considerably less uniform. In a sense, he reinvented the amateur crime solvers and made them central to his story; although there are still many police protagonists in Swedish crime stories, there are now also many with other professions – and, most particularly, women have claimed their part in bringing criminals to justice. Stieg was instrumental in encouraging the current generation of Swedish crime writers to be more imaginative, less restricted in their choice of themes, characters and plots, and more open to the idea of women action protagonists.”