Tuesday, 13 January 2009


Sunday (11 Jan), I appeared on BBC Radio 4's programme Open Book, interviewed by host Mariella Frostrup (pictured right) about Scandinavian crime writers, in light of the BBC adaptations of Henning Mankell's Wallender stories, starring Kenneth Branagh (interesting choice, as Swedes tend to have lips, which Branagh doesn't--I'll write more about the shows when the DVD is released), and the publication of Stieg Larsson's Girl Who Played With Fire, and Yrsa Sigurdarsdottir's Last Rituals. You can find the programme online here.

It was a very busy show, so our ten minutes was edited down a bit, and the specific discussion of Larsson's book was what was lost, but we did pack in a lot of background on crime writing in the north, its roots in both British and American fiction, and the important influence of Maj Sjowall and Per Wahloo's Martin Beck novels. And Mariella managed to query about specific Norwegians, so Karin Fossum and Jo Nesbo got name-checks.

It's a good listen, and our discussion goes well with Granta editor John Freeman talking about US Presidents and their reading: I once sold a review of Stephen Hunter to the Telegraph based on Bill Clinton being pictured with the book as Air Force One arrived in Britain. JFK, of course, put the James Bond novels on the map (and probably thought his CIA was just like that until he learned better) but they never mentioned that Ike's favourite reading was Zane Grey.

And before you ask, no, that's not me in the photo with Mariella.

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