|(Cheerful blogger with non-|
gloomy Icelandic crime writer
at tip to Adrian McKinty
, who posted a link to the BBC documentary Nordic Noir: The Story of Scandinavian Crime Fiction
. A few comments:
First, the title. Alliteration to the contrary, none of the authors interviewed or discussed really writes noir, not Stieg Larsson, not Maj Sjöwall and Per Wahlöö
, not in the books of hers that I've read, Karin Fossum
. The central characters are not losers. The books are about anger, compassion, isolation, or resignation. They don't encompass the essentially noir emotion of depair. Gloom, yes. Doom, no.
al McDermid noted the cold, gloomy landscape in Nordic crime writing and suggested this makes a wonderful stage for crime. She gets no quarrel from me. Here's some of what I wrote about Arnaldur Indriðason in the book Following the Detectives: Real Locations in Crime Fiction
"People disappear in Arnaldur Indriðason's Iceland, but the soil has a way of yielding them up again. An earthquake cracks the land, drains a lake, and uncovers a body; a victim turns up on a construction-site excavation; in spring, corpses come to light in a lake, where winter ice had concealed all signs of their disappearance. ... The landscape swallows up victims, whether of murder, accident or natural disaster; geological disruption lays them bare again."
Iceland, says one expert interviewed for the BBC piece, is "a place where people can disappear." Rozovsky said it first.
was glad to hear McDermid note that Arnaldur's books are shot through with "these dark and awful bits of humor." And I loved a remark from Håkan Nesser
, always amusing in a way not normally associated with Scandinavians, that "We're not supposed to talk like I do, we're supposed to just sit there and stare blankly out into the, whatever, darkness."
he program offered lots of Larsson but also a bit of Ibsen
, intriguingly citing the nineteenth-century Norwegian playwright as a prototype for Scandinavian crime fiction's tendency to explore the outward, social manifestations of inner trauma. Jo Nesbø, among the program's featured authors, numbered Ibsen among his influences when he spoke with Detectives Beyond Borders last year.
© Peter Rozovsky 2012
Labels: Arnaldur Indriðason, Håkan Nesser, Jo Nesbø, Maj Sjöwall, Nordic crime fiction, Per Wahlöö, Scandinavian crime fiction, Val McDermid