Monday, July 13, 2020

My Favorite Swedish Authors

One of our staff members is originally from Sweden, so in light of the popularity of books set in Scandinavia we asked her to tell us about some of her favorite authors.

Camilla Läckberg: Patrik Hedström series
I read the first one in this crime series “The ice princess” and I was hooked.
The crimes committed are usually on the gritty side catching your attention, but it’s balanced out with the relationship between Patrik and Erica. Family dynamics are slightly different in Sweden, so I can relate to their dynamics. I like how intermittent stories of the past are injected, revealing slowly why a crime was committed.

I find it very hard to put down her books, hence one of my most favorite Swedish authors.

Håkan Nesser: Inspector Van Veeteren series
This is another crime series I really like. The inspector Van Veeteren lives in a fictional town, but it feels European to me. He is a moody grumpy character, but so likeable anyway. He is stubborn, set in his ways, and plods on solving mysteries which he is superb at doing.

Liza Marklund: Annika Bengtzon series
Yet another crime series, but with a much faster pace. I love the main character who is for a change not working in the capacity of the police force. She is a journalist who is very driven professionally, and tries to balance work with home life. She is often in danger, and the stories gets hectic at times. The setting is Stockholm, and the places are familiar to me so it feels like I am there with her as the stories plays out.

Anders Roslund & Börje Hellström: Ewert Grens series
This duo is one of my latest favorites! (Unfortunately Hellström has passed away, but Roslund continued the series on his own.) This is a suspense thriller series with an edge. I find them impossible to put down as they keep me on the edge of my seat. Roslund has a journalistic background, and Hellström is an ex-con. Their knowledge of the Swedish society’s crime, drugs, social problems, and how the penal system works makes their books ring true. There are always many twists, turns and surprises. The setting is mostly in Stockholm and surrounding areas, but also abroad. Ewert even goes to visit his wife who is in a hospice on Lidingö. I grew up on that island which is a suburb of Stockholm, and it’s depicted perfectly. Can’t wait until the next book comes out.

Anton Svenson (pseudonym for Anders Roslund & Stefan Thunberg):
Made in Sweden (only 2 in this series, and is concluded as far as I know)
This series is based on true events. It’s actually about the author Thunberg’s own family. Many members of his family were Sweden’s most notorious bank robbers in the 1990’s. I didn’t live there at that time, but remember hearing about it. The story is quite extraordinary, and it happened in Sweden of all places. It’s an amazing tale of a tight-knit dysfunctional family filled with violence. It’s heart wrenching and very gripping. There was no way I was putting this book down except for eating, sleeping and going to work.

Lars Kepler: Detective Inspector Joona Linna series
This is one of my very latest finds, and definitely a favorite. Lars Kepler is pseudonym for a married couple who has written books on their own. Lars is homage to Stieg Larsson, and Kepler for the German scientist Johannes Kepler.

The crimes committed are very grisly. The tales are complex, and very gripping and thrilling. Yet again the setting is centered in Stockholm. I love that Sweden now has so many really awesome writers. 

Linna is Finnish, and is a very likeable character. He is strong, observant, fearless, and very good at his job.

Stieg Larsson: Millennium series
Yes, I liked this series as well – how can I not? Mostly set in Stockholm, but also all over Sweden. As the stories unfold, I’m right there. Embedded in the story are mental and social issues in Sweden I have seen and been aware of. 

I read the third book in English, and I can’t say I like the translator at all. If I had begun with the translated book, I don’t think I would have continued reading the series. They are much better in the original language.

I have read the continuation of the series by David Lagercrantz. Even though I like him as a writer,  I didn't like his continued work as much, and therefore I stopped after his first book.

Niklas Natt och Dag
This author comes from one of the oldest noble families in Sweden. I read his debut book The Wolf and the Watchman in Swedish (as I almost always do). This book is a historical thriller, and beware if you have a weak stomach because it’s super grisly with horrible details. He did a superb job though because I couldn’t help continuing to read even as I was disgusted. It very much shows the life and surroundings of the time period (18th century Stockholm).

Fredrik Backman
Finally something lighter to read. I love reading his books, they make me laugh out loud! The characters are so well described! I grew up with these kind of people so I can relate to them all. Actually, he is absolutely phenomenal at characterizing typical behavior of Swedish people. 

Margareta Magnusson: The Gentle Art of Swedish Death Cleaning
OK, so I believe everybody needs to read this book.  We live in such a consumer society, and have way too much stuff. My parents grew up during the depression and WWII. Hence, we saved everything in case it was needed, and nothing was to be wasted. This book puts a light touch on the subject that one needs to clean up their belongings before you die, so your family members do not have to deal with all of it. I’m myself doing this right now, and boy, do I have a lot of stuff – it’s quite incredible!

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