Tag Archives: Denmark

Nordic Noir goes to prison in Denmark

Did you know that the biggest crime festival in Northern Europe takes place every year in Horsens, Denmark? Its name is Krimimessen, and since 2007, it’s been held at the old state penitentiary called Fængslet.

This year the crime festival will take place on April 5 and 6, 2014. 

The crime festival gives you the opportunity to witness interviews with authors – some even delivered as interrogations – and there are plenty of criminal interactions such as book fairs, award ceremonies, theatre, music and children’s activities. Every year, around 5000 crime enthusiasts visit Krimimessen, and approximately 100 Danish and international authors and lecturers meet their readers on 6 different stages. Maybe you want to meet your favourite author and dissect his/her brain? Or maybe you’re curious to find out what goes on behind closed doors at the criminal investigators in real life? It doesn’t matter if you’re the biggest crime nerd or simply curious – they have something for everyone.

Names to die for… Among the bigger names on the 2014 program there are a lot of international authors. This year, Krimimessen has visitors from USA, Israel, England, Germany, Norway and Sweden. The popular English author, Robert Goddard, will be joining in; his latest thriller Fault line, has been praised by critics worldwide. Scottish-born Philip Kerr will be accepting the award for the best piece of crime literature in 2013, and Chris Carter from USA/London will be telling you about his work in criminal psychology in the state of Michigan, and how he uses his field experiences as a criminal psychologist in his crime writing. From Israel, we have the gripping author, Dror Mishani. The Norwegian crime authors will be represented by Jan Mehlum and last year’s winner of the great Scandinavian crime award Glasnøglen (The Glas Key), Jørn Lier Horst. You will have the opportunity to make both new and old crime acquaintances from Sweden with authors such as Carin Gerhardsen, Nini Schulman, Mons Kallentoft, Sofie Sarenbrant, Dan T. Sehlberg, Mattias Boström, Christoffer Carlsson and Joakim Zander. From Germany, you can meet the gothic coroner Mark Benecke and listen to his entertaining lecture, Horrible crimes and Hitler’s teeth. Also from Germany, author Mertchild Borrmann will be introducing his novel, Wer das Schweigen bricht, to the Danish crime audience.

Nordic Noir. Nordic crime literature has been flourishing in recent years, and this is definitely reflected in the program this year. We’ve attracted a lot of Nordic authors and will be going into depth about the phenomenon, Nordic Noir, during our panel discussions. There will be investigations of the Danish crime success in the USA and UK from a feministic standpoint. A lecture will be given on Scandinavian crime history, and we’ll set off a discussion on how crime literature functions as a social commentator. We’ll also be directing the spotlight towards topics such as love, sex and eroticism. We’ll also get an insight into what villainology is all about – how do you recognise a villain in literature when you see him (or her)?

Criminal deals and young hearts. The prison will not only give you the opportunity to get locked up behind bars with your favourite authors. At the book fair, you can also make deals that will almost seem criminal to you. Around 25 publishing houses and book stores will have enticing offers at their booths – when we get to Sunday afternoon, the discounts will be to die for. Krimimessen is not just for grown-ups. There will be a crime festival for children and those young at heart with free entrance. Here, you’ll find lots of thrilling and crime-filled entertainments. Take a look at the entire programme here.

If you have any questions regarding a particular event – please don’t hesitate to get in touch with the organisers. It would be a crime to miss out on this thrilling event!



Filed under Scandinavian crime fiction

The Culture Café Radio Show on The Killing

Tuesday, March 15, 1.15 – 2.00 pm, there will be a short talk about The Killing and Scandinavian crime fiction on BBC Radio Scotland’s show, The Culture Café. I will talk with host Clare English and TV critic Jane Graham about the recent success of the Danish TV crime series, and I may just give away how you knit the perfect Sarah Lund jumper (en islandsk sweater, as we call it in Danish). Here’s the blurb from the programme site:

The actors wear chunky-knit jumpers, it’s filmed largely in the dark and rain and it has a less than inviting title. But BBC4’s The Killing, a subtitled Danish thriller that slowly unfolds over 20 hours as police hunt for the murderer of a 19-year-old girl, has proved a perhaps unlikely hit. The show has been getting higher viewing figures than Mad Men did when it was shown on the channel and the BBC has confirmed that it has bought the second series. The show, which has been a hit across Europe, underscores the growing popularity of Scandinavian TV crime, following as it does the Swedish Wallander series. To explore the attraction of Nordic Noir Clare’s joined by Jakob Stougaard-Nielsen, lecturer in Scandinavian literature at University College London and TV critic, Jane Graham.

We are most likely going to talk about how it can be that a subtitled Danish crime thriller has become such a hit in the UK and beyond, and not only with the hardened Nordic Noir crime fans. As some of you may have seen, I was quoted in The Guardian a few weeks ago for my surprise reaction to its popularity. My point is, it is not usual for British TV viewers to spend 20 hours in the company of a language that sounds like somebody speaking while “eating a hot potato” (as a student of mine said once), and having to be constantly distracted to read the subtitles at the bottom of the screen. Not that I have low opinions about the multi-tasking skills of British TV viewers, but it is something that you have to get used to.  That British viewers don’t mind, I think, is unusual, especially compared to Scandinavian TV, where viewers more often than not view programmes that are subtitled from one language or another.

And then there is the question of the story. Again, isn’t it surprising that people get hooked on a series with multiple plot lines, where the crime elements are constantly over shadowed by the story of the grieving family, Lund’s inability to make a relationships work, or even her inability to be a good mother, a good daughter, etc. And we don’t really know why she is like that. I also can’t be the only one wondering about the portrayal of Lund. She is not the first female crime investigator in Scandinavian crime or even crime made for TV, but she is fundamentally different. She is gendered differently, and so is her partner investigator. She is no feminist, she is herself: maybe she has become a traditionally male gendered crime investigator to make it in that world: she shows no real empathy with anyone, she is all work at a great cost to her family life, etc.

This is what Danish media critic Karen Klitgaard Povlsen writes about The Killing in a chapter in Andrew Nestingen and Paula Arvas’ recent book, Scandinavian Crime Fiction (an excllent study of all things Nordic Noir – can’t recommend it enough! I will write a review as soon as I get to the end):

Sarah Lund is a clever police officer, but a bad mother and lover. She has no empathy, and is incapable of bonding or identifying with other women. Indeed, she might be described as a stereotypical and conventional male detective in a feminine disguise … This series depicts the investigator’s career in dystopian terms, at the same time as it depicts Danish politics as another dystopia. (Karen Klitgaard Povlsen)

Is this partly what makes her character so appealing – so enigmatic; does it matter? And what does this say about Women in the Danish welfare state?


Filed under Danish crime fiction, tv crime

The Killing and Scandinavian Crime in The Guardian

The Guardian in the UK is running a blog on The Killing currently being screened on BBC4. Here’s a link to today’s post:


Saturday, they will bring an article on the Killing and Scandinavian Crime Fiction, in general.

Leave a comment

Filed under Danish crime fiction, Scandinavian crime fiction, tv crime

The Sunday Times reviews Danish crime tv-series The Killing

Stephen Armstrong has written a thorough and informed review of the series currently running on BBC4 with contributions by the writers, Gråbøl  and myself (trying my best to pitch our Nordic Noir events).

Armstrong begins the review by comparing it to the famous American series The Wire (I get the connection in terms of style, urban context and focus on character, but otherwise it is a bit stretched). He writes:

If someone you know hasn’t recommended The Killing to you yet, they will soon. Pretty much guaranteed. It is, in word-of-mouth terms, the new The Wire. In fact, it shares a lot with the now almost mythical Baltimore cop show. It’s got cops, for starters. There’s also town-hall corruption with attendant political journalists and mayoral candidates, and the tale spins out devoid of the clichés surrounding thrillers or police procedurals. In other ways, however, The Killing is different. For one thing, it’s in Danish.

Imagine a time when something appearing in original languages on UK tv with subtitles will not seem strange or exotic! And imagine a time when newsmedia will be capable of adopting foreign ortography, so that Gråbøl wont be spelled (and pronounced) Grabol. Armstrong makes a strong case for allowing more international tv enrich UK programming. The review presents some interesting observations about the character-driven Nordic Noir style, and the gender of the series’ protagonist.

I am quoted for saying the following, which surely some of you will disagree with, so sorry:

For Dr Jakob Stougaard-Nielsen, lecturer in Scandinavian literature at UCL, The Killing is still a part of “Nordic noir”, the genre that spawned The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo and the Wallander books and TV series. “They all share a certain bleakness, a certain view of the city and the countryside, a slow pacing and the presence of political disenchantment,” he explains. “It’s the Nordic regions’ literary reaction to the ending of the social democracy, to the unfolding of the cosy post-war period. Often, you find writers of Nordic thrillers come from a poetic or high literary background, but find the detective genre a useful plot tool, a way of driving the story forward. All the same, unlike more typical American and British detective fiction, the essence of these stories is the people, not the crime. That’s why it’s noir — these are dark people with dark characters unfolding. It’s not a romp to solve the clues.”

From The Sunday Times, “The Wire in the Blood” (13-02-2011): http://www.thesundaytimes.co.uk/sto/culture/film_and_tv/tv/article539562.ece#prev


Filed under Danish crime fiction, Scandinavian crime fiction, tv crime

The Killing (Danish tv crime on BBC)

While Denmark may not have produced the blockbuster crime novels that Sweden has, crime series written for tv has for years been internationally acclaimed – and extremely popular with a Danish audience.

One of the most widely watched series in recent years is “Forbrydelsen” starring Sophie Gråbøl as the rather maladjusted genious Police investigator Sarah Lund.

This weekend the first two episodes were aired on BBC4 with English subtitles, as The Killing, and it is going to be interesting to see what an English-speaking audience makes of the Lund character and the series. I found it to be somewhere between 24 (w. Kiefer Sutherland) and the Swedish Wallander series, but it is very much its own.

BBC website for the series

If Danes repsond to this post, please don’t give the plot away. Why has Danish tv crime been so popular? How does the Sarah Lund character strike you? What is the difference between crime novels and tv crime series? What seems particularly Danish or Scandinavian about The Killing? Let’s get a discussion going about the series as it aires on BBC – it could be really interesting to learn how non-Scandinavian viewers see this series.


Filed under Danish crime fiction, Scandinavian crime fiction, tv crime

Politiken: The Danish King of Crime has sold 2 mio copies

Jussi Adler-Olsen sells books like no other Danish author

The Danish newspaper, Politiken, reports that the international rights for the Danish crime writer, Jussi Adler-Olsen’ series about Afdeling Q (Department Q) have been sold to 24 countries. Presently, Adler-Olsen’s books are only available in three countries – in Germany, Holland and Norway. From the British publisher, the Nordic Noir Crime Book Club has learned that the series will be published in the UK sometime in May 2011.

Politiken reports that Adler-Olsen is very popular in Germany where his crime novels sell up to 8000 copies a day – his novels have been in the top three on Der Spiegel’s bestseller list for 60 weeks. In Denmark the publisher Politikens Forlag reports that Adler-Olsen has sold 1 mio copies, which includes the four novels in the Department Q series and three other crime novels.

We shall be looking forward to seeing a bestselling Danish crime writer published in the UK again. Readers of Scandinavian crime may know of Leif Davidsen’s international thrillers, maybe even Michael Larsen, but certainly Peter Hoeg’s Miss Smilla’s Sense of Snow, but in comparison to Swedish and Norwegian crime writers, the Danish receive very litte attention and few are being translated. I have heard that Hammer & Hammer’s first novel has been bought by a UK publisher, but how about Sara Blaedel ?

Who do you think deserves to be translated and why? Do you think Danish crime writers are different than their Scandinavian brothers and sisters?


Filed under Danish crime fiction, Scandinavian crime fiction