How to pronounce Stieg Larsson: Steeg (rhymes with league) LARSson
Swedish author Stieg Larsson's life is every bit as fascinating as that of
any fictional character. Mikael Blomkvist, the protagonist of The Millenium
Series, in fact bears many similarities to his creator.
Karl Stig-Erland Larsson was born on August 15, 1954 in Västerbotten, in northern Sweden. He was raised in the countryside by his grandparents until his grandfather's death in 1962 (despite considerable research, including questions to his publisher, that is all we have been able to glean of his childhood).
After performing his mandatory two-year military service, Larsson traveled widely in Africa, witnessing the civil war in Eritrea first-hand. On his return to Sweden in 1977, he worked for Tidningarnas Telegrambyra (TT), the largest Swedish news agency. He was employed at TT for most of his adult life as a journalist, feature writer and graphics artist.
One of his many passions was science fiction. He was the co-editor of several fanzines, including Sfären, Fijagh! Additionally, he was president of the largest Swedish sci-fi fan club, Skandinavisk förening för science fiction (SFSF), from 1978 1979.
Until the posthumous publication of his books, Larsson was best known as a political activist and journalist. He never officially joined the Communist party in Sweden, but he was a strong advocate for the Kommunistiska Arbetareförbundet (Communist Workers League). He also edited the Swedish Trotskite journal Fjärde internationalen. He was devoted to fighting racism and totalitarianism, and became instrumental in documenting and exposing organizations advocating these and other far-right philosophies. He initiated the Swedish Expo foundation (a sister-society to the British Searchlight foundation) dedicated to countering nationalist, racist, anti-democracy and anti-Semitic groups.
Larsson was widely admired for his stance against extremist groups. He received many death threats over the years, and those close to him were seriously concerned for his life. When he died in 2004, many conspiracy theorists speculated that what was deemed a massive heart attack was, in fact, murder. (Given the fact that the man smoked over 60 cigarettes a day and led a relatively unhealthy lifestyle, however, the official cause of death seems likely.)
The Millennium Series was nearly complete before Larsson showed the first two books to a publisher shortly before his death. Almost eight million copies of the books have been sold since the first was published in 2005, including 2.7 million copies in Sweden (almost one for every three Swedes in a country of nine million people). A total of 32 countries have bought the rights to the trilogy, and all three books have film adaptations in the works.
The initial entry in the series, Män som hatar kvinnor ("Men Who Hate Women"), was awarded the prestigious Glass Key award as the best Nordic crime novel in 2005. It was published in the UK in early 2008 as The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, and in the USA in September 2008. The movie version is due out in Nordic countries in 2009, starring Michael Nyqvist as Blomkvist and Noomi Noren (aka Noomi Rapace) as Lisbeth Salander.
The second book in the trilogy, Flickan som lekte med elden ("The Girl Who Played with Fire"), won the Swedish Crime Fiction Academy Award as the year's best Swedish crime novel of 2006. It was published in English in 2009. The final volume, Luftslottet som sprängdes ("The Aircastle that Blew Up"), was published in English in May 2010 as The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest
Stieg Larsson's website
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