Sunday, 9 June 2013

'Scandi-hot Crime Literature'

At Kellogg College last Friday, we held a rather unusual event for Oxford: an afternoon devoted to the phenomenon of Scandinavian crime literature. The Danish crime novelist Susanne Staun, wife of a visiting professor at the College, tried to unravel for us the reasons why Scandinavian crime stories (and drama) had become so popular -- both in the UK and beyond. Was it really just about the jumpers? Also talking was Heather O'Donoghue, Reader in Norse and a 'Dagger' crime fiction judge; she talked about the appeal of Stieg Larsson, how many crime novels you have to read a year to be a judge (answer: very many), and the successful formulas that lie behind successful novels. Much of the discussion focused on the presentation of women in these stories. Were they 'new' versions of women for a modern age, or were they women re-cast to resemble men? Were such women -- flawed, successful, sometimes dangerous -- appealing to female and male readers alike? Not many conclusions were drawn, but the debate was certainly enjoyable -- and heated! Look out for Susanne Staun in the next few years: she is massively successful at home (her work straddles the 'crime fiction' and 'literary fiction' divide), and is about to be launched upon the UK market. Interestingly, the Danish for 'blog' seems to be 'Blob', according to Susanne's website...

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