I have never quite believed the book reviews in the newspapers. Whenever I see that a novel is far too popular, I have the feeling it is a bit overrated. Of course, I always buy it to see what the fuss is all about, but I read with suspicion.
Something similar happened when I bought Stieg Larsson’s Millenium Trilogy. In fact, I was quite furious because in most bookstores the novels were actually all sold out. This in fact tuned me up against the trilogy even more, but as a rule in life, the more you can’t have something, the more you want it. So I walked around all bookstores until I was one of the obviously chosen few that have the privilege to read Larsson’s books. When I saw the back cover review (a journalist investigates a crime) I was even more convinced that I wouldn’t like it. I just can’t understand how my mother has the patience to read Lee Child, John Grisham, and all those Russian criminal authors, when the story is ALWAYS the same. Crime. Policeman (alternatively journalist, retired GI, etc). Beautiful and smart woman. They have a relationship. They solve the crime (drugs, prostitutes, money laundering, mafia, you name it). Finito.
Stieg Larsson’s first book from the trilogy The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo though is amazing. Yes, it is a criminal novel. Yes, there is an investigating journalist and a girl. However, they are far from the typical personages we meet. Mikael Blomkvist and Lisbeth Salander are contradictory, quick tempered, impulsive, yet extremely smart. They cooperate to solve a dramatic crime that happened 40 years ago. Only to discover the dirty and disgusting secrets of a big and wealthy family. The novel kept me excited and questioning until the end. Absolutely not a regular criminal literary piece.
Stieg Larsson is a famous Swedish journalist and writer, whose investigations expose a world of immoral financial affairs, extremist conspiracies, sexual violence, and antidemocratic practices. The Millenium Trilogy deservingly brings him many awards, among which are Best Scandinavian Novel for The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo and Best Swedish Criminal Novel for The Girl Who Played with Fire. Unfortunately, the author never lived to see his trilogy being published. Some people believe his death is connected to his work as an investigative journalist. Whether these are rumors or not, I doubt we will ever know. The point is, Larsson has an amazing talent, which is a great loss to contemporary literature. I must admit the first 150 pages of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo are a bit like a journalist article – long descriptions, dry and mostly informative style. However, after that I simply dove into the novel and I just didn’t want to let go. I expect the other two books to be as great, and maybe even better.
An interesting trivia is that the Bulgarian translation is The Men Who Hated Women. This in fact is the original translation from Swedish. I have no idea why the English translation is The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo but I don’t like it even a bit. I just hate when translators simply decide to alter an author’s original choice as they fit. They just ruin a huge part of the explanatory power of the book.
Of course, we shouldn’t doubt the Hollywood industry, which takes ANY bestseller and tries to win millions from it. Understandably, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo has also been turned into a movie, which this year has been presented in Cannes. I suppose the other two novels from the trilogy will be soon to follow.
Next on my list – The Girl Who Played with Fire. I can’t believe I am so excited about a criminal trilogy but I am. Imagine, it must be really good!