It was after reading “The Devotion of Suspect X” by Keigo Higashino that I decided to check out the late Swedish author Stieg Larsson. Having enjoyed the Japanese thriller, I was fascinated by the comparison of Keigo Higashino to Stieg Larsson.
I did a Google search for Stieg Larsson and was amazed at the hype over Larsson’s Millennium trilogy comprising of three bestselling novels namely “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” (Män som hatar kvinnor, literally, Men who hate women), “The Girl Who Played with Fire” (Flickan som lekte med elden, literally, The girl who played with fire) and “The Girl Who Kicked the Hornets’ Nest” (Luftslottet som sprängdes, literally, The air castle that blew up).
Unable to quench my curiosity, I went to Popular Bookstore in Bintang Megamall to look for the books. To my surprise, all the three books were in stock and I purchased them without hesitation.
The three books together run into over 2,000 pages. Except for some parts where the storyline get a bit long-winded, I must say that the books are fantastic. The rock solid storyline kept me engrossed, keeping me on the edge and filling with anticipation. I finished all the three one after the other within three weeks.
In Lisbeth Salander, Karl Stig-Erland “Stieg” Larsson has created the most unforgettable character in fiction since who knows when. Salander is truly an icon and an enigma who will haunt us for many years to come.
Larsson submitted the original Swedish manuscripts for all three volumes in the series to two Swedish publishers, with Norstedts Förlag accepting the manuscripts for publication. The books were published posthumously in Sweden.
Norstedts commissioned Steve Murray, under the pen-name of Reg Keeland, to undertake the English translation. Larsson tried to get British publishers to accept his book, but was turned down until Christopher Maclehose bought the global English language rights of the book for Quercus, a small London publisher. Alfred A. Knopf bought the U.S. rights to the books after Larsson’s death in 2004.
By May 2010, 27 million copies had been sold worldwide, a number that would grow to more than 46 million over the next five months, and reach 65 million in December 2011. In July 2010 the series made Larsson the first author to sell a million electronic copies of his work on the Amazon Kindle.
He was the second best-selling author in the world for 2008, behind Khaled Hosseini. By December 2011, his “Millennium series” had sold 65 million copies; the final book in the trilogy, “The Girl Who Kicked the Hornets’ Nest”, became the most sold book in the United States in 2010 according to Publishers Weekly.
Larsson was 15 years old when he witnessed the gang rape of a girl, leading to his lifelong abhorrence of violence and abuse against women. The author never forgave himself for failing to help the girl, which inspired the themes of sexual violence against women in his books.
In writing the series, Larsson was also influenced by two murders: Melissa Nordell, a model killed by her boyfriend, and Fadime Şahindal, a Swedish-Kurdish woman killed by her father. Both women were killed at the hands of men or as victims of honor crime. To Larsson, there was no difference, and the “systematic violence” against women highly affected and inspired him to take action against these crimes through his writing.
Eva Gabrielsson, Larsson’s longtime partner, wrote that “the trilogy allowed Stieg to denounce everyone he loathed for their cowardice, their irresponsibility, and their opportunism: couch-potato activists, sunny-day warriors, fair-weather skippers who pick and choose their causes; false friends who used him to advance their own careers; unscrupulous company heads and shareholders who wangle themselves huge bonuses… Seen in this light, Stieg couldn’t have had any better therapy for what ailed his soul than writing his novels.”
Larsson wrote about three-quarters of a fourth novel before his sudden death on 9 November 2004 at the age of 50 of a heart attack after climbing seven flights of stairs to his office because the lift was not working. There were rumours that his death was in some way induced, because of death threats against him, but these have been denied by Eva Gedin, his Swedish publisher.
Eva Gabrielsson is in possession of the notebook computer with the unfinished manuscript, but does not own the rights to Larsson’s work. A 1977 will, found soon after Larsson’s death, declared his wish to leave his assets to the Umeå branch of the Communist Workers League (now the Socialist Party). Because it was not witnessed, it was deemed invalid according to Swedish law. As a result, all of Larsson’s estate, including future royalties from book sales, went to his father and brother.
The trilogy has my highest recommendation. I agree with the review in Chicago Tribune….”Unique and fascinating…It’s like a blast of cold, fresh air to read.”
The trilogy has been adapted into movies in Sweden and I have also bought the DVDs for the movies. The movies are enjoyable but don’t do justice to the books. The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo has also been made into a Hollywood movie starring Daniel Craig and Rooney Mara. I have not watched this version of the movie so I cannot comment on Rooney Mara’s portrayal of Lisbeth Salander. I would love to see Avril Lavigne as Lisbeth Salander. In my mind, she seems to fit the role very well.