Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Our August Author: Stieg Larsson (The Girl Who Playes With Fire)

The Girl Who Played with Fire (Vintage)It's our mystery month and this time we chose Stieg Larsson's The Girl Who Played with Fire.  I'm not sure who is behind the site, but for a compendium of Stieg Larsson links, you could start with stieglarsson.com or try this Life of Stieg Larsson interactive feature from the New York Times.  In addition, the NYT offers a couple of useful articles on the backstory of the series, The Afterlife of Stieg Larsson and Pippi Longstocking and Lisbeth Salander.

The Daily Telegraph has an account of Larsson's only interview on the series with some tips for further reading...
Every spring and autumn, back when he worked for the news agency, he was assigned to write reviews that summed up the season’s releases of translated crime fiction. “I’d include the top five crime novels at that particular time,” he said. “Some of the writers I’ve praised are Sara Paretsky, Val McDermid, Elisabeth George and Minette Walters. Strangely enough, almost all are women.”
If you'd like to get a jumpstart on the discussion, check out Slate's Culture Gabfest on Stieg Larsson. Otherwise you can dig in and wrestle with some of the issues the book raises:

Is Lisbeth Salander a feminist icon or male fantasy figure? There's no shortage of opinions. Here's a sampler:  Why we should cheer Lisbeth Salander, Stieg Larsson’s girl gang, The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo: feminist, or not?, Did Stieg Larsson have a problem with women? Feminist or misogynist?
How does Larsson's Sweden match up with the reality? Here is a trio of articles to check out: Millenium's distorting mirror, Understanding Swedish society through Stieg Larsson's popular fiction and Foreign Policy's  We're All Swedes Now, 

The sex-trafficking subplot didn't move sufficiently beyond lecture to where it emotionally engaged me, but the NYT's Nick Kristof is hopeful that the books might raise some awareness of the issue.

A tip of the hat to Larsson's English translator, Reg Keeland who has a blog.

Just for fun you can get a peek at the 'Dragon Tattoo' tour of Stockholm.

And finally, don't miss Nora Ephron's Stieg Larsson parody The Girl Who Fixed the Umlaut in The New Yorker.
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