BBC Special on Nordic Noir

I’ve had a slew of posts lately about Nordic crime fiction–I suppose it only makes sense as the temperatures spike in North America that we’re all eager to dip into novels set in colder climates. At any rate, a Goodreads friend just recommended an episode of the BBC documentary series Time Shift called “Nordic Noir: The Story of Scandinavian Crime Fiction” that I thought I should pass along.

The program is organized around the work of notable Nordic crime authors, such as Stig Larsson, Karin Fossum, Jo Nesbø, Henning Mankell, Sjöwall and Wahlöö, and Arnaldur Indriðason. Using Larsson’s Millenium series as its starting point, the show leans heavily toward Swedish authors (no Danish or Finnish crime authors are included), and has some strange moments. For instance, there are several tangential discussions of the methods cinematographers and actors use in TV adaptations of popular crime novels to increase tension and convey pathos without dialog. The segment on Arnaldur Indriðason is pretty heavy on flowery talk about Icelandic weather in place of much information about him as an author or crime fiction in Iceland in general. But depending on the author, much of the information is new and interesting. I especially enjoyed Karin Fossum’s segment, particularly her discussion of her different approach to telling a story about a murder, and also the revelation that she was actually very close to a murderer in her own life.

What the program did best, though, was give contextual information about the political climates in Sweden and other Scandinavian countries, including the rise of neo-fascism and xenophobia, Norway’s discovery of oil and pursuant national wealth, and the unsolved murder of Prime Minister Olaf Palme. The show does a good job of explaining how these events have effected the political climate of different countries, and by extension, how they have resonated in the region’s crime fiction.

I’ve imbedded the video below–happy viewing!


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