In the second part of his interview with Detectives Beyond Borders, Jo Nesbø discusses future English translations of the first, second and eighth Harry Hole novels [the five translated to date are books three through seven], philosophical musings on celebrity and revenge in Nemesis, and his place in Scandinavian crime fiction. He also talks about how Hole (pronounced approximately HEU-leh in Norwegian) got his first name — and did not get his second.
(Read Part I of the interview with Jo Nesbø.)
Jo Nesbø: It's like the most corny name you can think of. It's even an expression in Norwegian, to be Harry. It's like the cliché of a redneck.
In the Seventies what we meant with Harry was someone who dressed like Elvis. It was someone from the rural areas coming to the city not knowing how to dress. That was why I wanted the name. `How can you call somebody Harry?' It's not a funny name, but it's an uncomfortable name. It's a normal name in one way, but on the other hand, a guy living in Oslo named Harry, it gives the character character.
There was an English musician born in Norway that suggested the name really was `Hairy Hole,' that I was playing with that. I told him no, I wasn't. I really laughed hard when he suggested that. No, I didn't think about that, but I wish I had, you know.
There's a big wave of Nordic crime fiction. Do you consider yourself part of that?
I am part of that whether I consider myself part of it or not because it's sort of a commercial label. It doesn't necessarily have much to do with Scandinavian writers having the same style. When I've been asked what I think are the similarities between Scandinavian authors, I would say that they were either from Denmark, Norway or Sweden.
I think my style is probably closer to some of the American writers — Bukowski, Hemingway — than to other Scandinavian writers. Then again, I write from Oslo, so the atmosphere would probably be similar to Stieg Larsson or Henning Mankell.
For me, my inspiration doesn't come mainly from Scandinavian crime writers. It comes from Scandinavian literature, like Knut Hamsun, Henrik Ibsen, lots of other Norwegian and Danish and Swedish writers.
What have readers in English missed by not having The Batman, The Cockroaches (Books 1 and 2 in the series, which take Harry to Australia and Thailand) and The Leopard (Book 8) available in their language?
The Leopard will be translated, hopefully next year. The first two books, there are enough references to them in the third and the fourth and the fifth books. That's why we decided we can start with the third book, because you will get the rest of the story.
The series is now so established in the UK, they want to translate the first two, also.
Also by Don Bartlett?
I hope so.
Are you deliberately more philosophical in Nemesis? And do Americans prefer a simpler, more compact, less complex story like Nemesis [shortlisted for the best-novel Edgar Award for 2010]?
[Laughs] The first part of the question, the short answer is, I don't know.
Number two, no, I don't necessarily think so. I think that nominations — I have to answer this carefully — nominations sometimes tend to be the result not only of what you did in your last novel, but in the novel before that.
© Peter Rozovsky 2010
Labels: Don Bartlett, interviews, Jo Nesbø, Jo Nesbø interview, music, music in crime fiction, Nordic crime, Nordic crime fiction, Norway, Norway crime fiction, Scandinavia, Scandinavian crime fiction