New book deciphers Norse code

Posted on 10 February 2011

Scandinavian Crime Fiction (Title cover)

From Henning Mankell’s critically acclaimed Wallander series to Stieg Larsson’s best-selling Millennium Trilogy; Scandinavian noir has in recent years continued to invade our screens and bookshelves like unrelenting Viking marauders.

Scandinavian Crime Fiction, a new book published by the University of Wales Press, is the first English-language study of its kind. Seeking to unravel our obsession with this genre, this text offers a deeper understanding of the history, context and debate surrounding some of its most inspired works.

The book, edited by Andrew Nestingen and Paula Arvas, is the product of several articles written by an international team of writers, offering a broad and varied perspective on Scandinavian noir. It traces the development of crime fiction in Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden since the 1960s.

Since the first Martin-Beck novel of Maj Sjöwall and Per Wahlöö appeared in 1965, the socially-critical crime novel has figured prominently in Scandinavian culture, and found hundreds of millions of readers outside Scandinavia. But is there truly a Scandinavian crime novel tradition?

Scandinavian Crime Fiction identifies distinct features and changes in the Scandinavian crime tradition through analysis of some of its most well-known writers: Henning Mankell, Stieg Larsson, Anne Holt, Liza Marklund, Leena Lehtolainen, and Arnaldur Indriðason, among others.

Focusing on Scandinavian crime fiction’s snowballing prominence since the 1990s, articles home in on the transformation of the genre’s social criticism, study the significance of cultural and geographical place in the tradition, and analyze the cultural politics of crime fiction, including struggles over gender equity, sexuality, ethnicity, history, and the fate of the welfare state. The text maps out the contribution of Scandinavian crime writers to contemporary European culture and society, making the volume valuable to scholars and the interested public.

Andrew Nestingen is associate professor of Scandinavian studies at the University of Washington, where he teaches courses on Finland, Scandinavian cinema, and cultural theory. Recent books include Crime and Fantasy in Scandinavia (2008).

Paula Arvas (Ph.D) is lecturer in Finnish literature at the University of Helsinki, where she teaches courses on crime fiction and other popular fiction. Her most recent book is Rauta ja Ristilukki: Vilho Helasen salapoliisiromaanit (The Vilho Helasen Detective Novels 2009) which analyses 1940s Finnish crime fiction.


Notes to Editors:

Scandinavian Crime Fiction
Edited by
Paula Arvas and Andrew Nestingen
£24.99 | PB| 9780708323304 | 272 pages | 216x138 mm

For more information about the University of Wales Press, please visit:
For press and media information, please contact Tom Barrett, Communications Officer, University of Wales:

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