Monday, March 19, 2007

Håkan Nesser, the (thinly) smiling Swede

A correspondent refers in passing to Håkan Nesser's bleakness, but I find Nesser anything but bleak. Yes, Borkmann's Point is set, presumably, in northern Europe, land of clear, strong drink and pessimistic detectives. Yes, the novel's three murders (and the one so far in The Return) are especially horrific, but Nesser handles all, it seems to me, with his characteristic low-key wit. By comparison, Henning Mankell dispatches his victims with detail far more horrible. (I once attended a reading by Mankell where someone asked why he has his killers take care of their victims so graphically. His answer was simple: Because such things really happen.)

Nor do Nesser's characters seem especially gloomy by temperament. Yes, they may fret about their private lives, but they are not obsessed. I would regard Nesser's outlook primarily as one of amused wonder rather than bleakness.

© Peter Rozovsky 2007

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2 Comments:

Blogger Peter said...

Yes, Swedes are bleak, according to the journalist who conducted this interview with John Ajvide Lindqvist that Perry Middlemiss kindly called to my attention: http://www.theage.com.au/news/books/swedens-bleeding/2007/03/08/1173166891932.html

The article

March 19, 2007  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Well, the accompanying photograph does make him look like something that popped up, startled, out of a grave.

December 17, 2008  

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