Sunday, July 10, 2011

The fjord foundation: Forthcoming book to examine Norwegian crime fiction

"On a slow news day [Friday]," writes Barry Forshaw, "here's the Norwegian Noir piece I've done in today’s Independent," drawing on research he did for his book Death in a Cold Climate: Scandinavian Crime Fiction, due early next year.

Forshaw writes that "Norway remains, in most people's consciousnesses, the most imposing of the Nordic countries, with the ancient legacy of the Vikings still casting a shadow over the country."

That's interesting; I'd have thought Sweden was the big boy on the local block, with Norway insecure about its relatively recent North Sea oil wealth. The man Forshaw calls "the uncrowned king of Norwegian crime fiction" called Noway "a young and, in a way, an insecure nation" when I interviewed him.

I'm also not sure Jo Nesbø is uncrowned these days, but let's wait to hear what Forshaw's book has to say. I'll also be eager to see how the book expands on Forshaw's contention in the Independent that
"despite the proximity to one another of the various Scandinavian countries, their individual identities are remarkably pronounced. The patience generally shown by the inhabitants when the British and Americans lazily lump all the Scandinavian nations together is both surprising and admirable."
***
While you wait for Forshaw's book, catch up on Norwegian crime fiction at the Scandinavian Crime Fiction database and blog.

© Peter Rozovsky 2011

Labels: , ,

27 Comments:

Blogger Uriah Robinson said...

'Norway.. the most imposing of the Nordic countries'.
Perhaps Forshaw forgot about Gustavus Adolphus, or Charles XII, or Volvo, or Saab.

July 11, 2011  
Anonymous I.J.Parker said...

Yes, I have my doubts also. And the books do, in fact, strike me as rather similar. What examples of national differences does the man provide?

But in the end, none of this matters. What matters is if the books are any good.

July 11, 2011  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Uriah, maybe Forshaw thinks most Americans or Europeans find a band of Vikings more imposing than a sturdy sedan. It will be interesting to see if his book tries to reconcile this imposing image with the Norwegian insecurities that Nesbo so delights in poking fin at in his books.

July 11, 2011  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

I.J., we'll have to wait for book for an exploration of the differences. I will be curious to see what the book has to say about a distinct Norwegian character.

July 11, 2011  
Anonymous Elisabeth said...

As a third-generation American of Norwegian descent and a once-frequent visitor to the homeland, I'd say that two qualities most distinct about contemporary Norwegian character are insecurity (I don't agree with much of Nesbø's assessment of Norwegians but I think he's spot on on this observation) and a tendency towards depression.

I once would have added the quality of independence to this list but this is no longer really part of the national character. Its perseverance in the minds of others (imposing > Vikings) is hard to shake, however.

July 11, 2011  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

If Forshaw had Vikings in mind, yes, the Norwegians have probably creating the most imposing and enduring imprint on the European psyche. But Nesbø's take on Norwegians' insecurity has made a stronger impression on me, if only because of its novelty.

And don't forget the Normans!

July 11, 2011  
Anonymous Elisabeth said...

I could never forget the Normans! I credit my Norman blood for making me long for the sunny shores of Sicily far more often than rugged fjords of dark-70%-of-the-year Norway!

Death in a Cold Climate is also the title of a 1980 crime novel by Robert Barnard set in Norway.

July 11, 2011  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Your love the antique presumably derives from the Roman part of the Gallo-Roman stock with which the Vikings mixed to form the Normans. Mmm, what did you get from the Gauls?

July 11, 2011  
Anonymous Elisabeth said...

Well, when Grandpa Blood-axe stormed through Gaul and destroyed the Carolingian empire, he brought back some great jewelry!

July 11, 2011  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Did all the Baby-Bluetooths cut their incisors chewing on looted Merovingian garnet jewelry?

July 11, 2011  
Anonymous Elisabeth said...

Oh, you're thinking of Great-grandpa Bluetooth. I never got any of that hoard, just some great silk fabrics. Nope, I had to wait until Grandpa sacked the Carolingian empire before I got some really great baubles. Although I still prefer the silver bracelets Great-uncle Kari brought back from Constantinople. Slipped from the silken arm of a sloe-eyed beauty he met in a, well, you know...

July 11, 2011  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Not one of those fur-swathed Dnieper babes from when the Vikings founded Novgorod?

July 11, 2011  
Anonymous Elisabeth said...

Hmm, as far as I know none of my male forbears got that far. Too bad, too, cuz I coulda used a nice, warm sable fur coat for those nights when I was stuck in the backwater-town of Jorvik in the Seventies, 1970s that is...

July 11, 2011  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Those Vikings sure racked up their frequent-sack-and-rapine miles, didn't they?

July 11, 2011  
Anonymous kathy d. said...

An A+ for "Fjord Foundation," to whomever coined the phrase.

July 12, 2011  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

It's my own creation. Thanks.

July 12, 2011  
Anonymous adrian mckinty said...

Norway, also the most anti-semitic of the Nordic countries:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Antisemitism_in_Norway

Some of the more recent stuff is appalling.

July 12, 2011  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

That might not shock some people. Neo-Nazism figures prominently in a number of Swedish and Norwegian crime novels.

July 12, 2011  
Blogger adrian mckinty said...

Neo Nazis are such a soft, easy and predictable target. It would be nice if some of the crime writers wrote something about those nice middle class Volvo driving lefties who consider Jews to be terribly vulgar and old fashioned. And of course its always safe to bash Israel, America, Paul Wolfowitz, bankers etc. in the Nordic crime fiction I've read.

July 12, 2011  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

One Swedish crime novel I can think of has some middle-class kids flirting with the dark side, but -- you guessed it -- that takes the form of racist, hardcore music. Examination of attitudes in the manner you suggest? It doesn't happen. I can tell you than when it does happen in a Nordic crime novel, Arnaldur Indridason is likely to be the first to do it.

July 12, 2011  
Blogger adrian mckinty said...

Peter

Those writers know who their readers are and it wouldnt do to insult them. Better to make the enemies Russian gangsters, neo Nazis etc.

Holding a mirror up to oneself takes real balls...

July 12, 2011  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Arnaldur does a bit of that. I'm telling you: He really is far and away the best of the Nordic bunch.

July 12, 2011  
Anonymous Elisabeth said...

"...nice middle class Volvo driving lefties..."

Good point, Adrian. Anti-semitism in Norway is led by the ruling socialists and Norwegian Muslims, not by disenfranchised, neo-Nazi thugs. But the latter do make for more acceptable (and fictionally entertaining) villains in novels.

Norwegian leftists, like leftists elsewhere in the West, tend to favor groups and nations viewed as underdogs, thus Norwegian gov't policies tend to favor Palestine over Israel.

July 12, 2011  
Blogger adrian mckinty said...

Elisabeth

Yeah they're on the side of the underdog when the overdog is a Jew. Funny you never hear too much about the occupied Western Sahara, occupied Azerbaijan, occupied Tibet, occupied Kurdistan or even occupied Greenland...

And there also seems to be real venom towards Jews in Norway. The synagogue in Norway requires a 24 hour armed guard, a Norwegian "comedian" recently said how sad he was about the millions of fleas and lice that had to die in the gas chambers with the Jews.

Peter,

I suspect the Danes might be a bit more reflective than the other Nordic nations, but that's just a guess...

July 12, 2011  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Eliot Pattison's crime novels are the harshest I know of in their denunciation of Chinese occupation of Tibet. He came up the expedient of making his protagonist a disaffected Han Chinese exiled to Tibet and treated brutally by Chinese officials and jailers.

July 12, 2011  
Anonymous kathy d. said...

The first book in the Stieg Larsson trilogy, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, had a wealthy misogynist serial murderer who was a Nazi. And his father had been a Nazi.

He tied his virulent hatred of Jews to hating women.

Larsson was a known investigator of neo-Nazi groups in Sweden and also in Europe. He had gotten many death threats and been followed by neo-Nazi skinheads.

Also, not in fiction, but in the real world, the multi-millionaire -- perhaps billionaire -- founder of Ikea had ties to neo-Nazi groups. This has been written about in several online publications.

I wish people would boycott Ikea because of this or at least publicize it to potential customers.

July 16, 2011  
Anonymous kathy d. said...

That's horrible about the anti-Semitism in Norway where synagogues need guarding like that.

The so-called comedian Adrian refers to shouldn't be hired. He should be frozen out of clubs and other venues. There are limits to "free speech," as Michael Richards and Mel Gibson found out after racist and anti-Semitic rants.

I appreciate that people in France can be jailed and fined for making anti-Semitic remarks or writing anti-Semitic articles or books. Sounds good to me.

I was quite glad the designer, Galiano, was arrested for making anti-Semitic comments in a cafe. I don't know what happened with that other than that he lost his job, a good thing.

There were many Norwegians who signed up with the German army during WWII.

However, what I prefer to dwell on is that many Norwegians also joined the Resistance movement.

July 16, 2011  

Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home