Wallander - The Swedish Crime Detective
From Swedish Aviation News, May edition.
Swedish thrillers a growing export
Volvo, IKEA and pop musicians such as Abba and Roxette are not the only recent exports that have helped make Sweden well known and popular abroad. Today Swedish mystery novels - including Henning Mankell's character Inspector Kurt Wallander - are taking the world by storm.
Swedish authors - especially in the thriller novel genre - are selling better and better abroad. The late Stieg Larsson's Millennium book series - and the film recently made from the first of these novels - continue to score successes both in Europe and the US, while the works of a growing number of other Swedish authors are also popping up on bookshelves abroad.
This wave of interest is perhaps mainly due to author Henning Mankell, whose series of novels featuring Police Commissioner Kurt Wallander have been internationally successful for many years. Today Mankell is the tenth best selling novelist in the world.
Mankell's books turned into popular TV films in Britain
During 2008 one of Britain's largest television networks, BBC One, shot three TV films based on Mankell's books on location in Ystad, the town in southern Sweden where the fictitious Wallander lives and works. The first film, "Sidetracked", premiered late in 2008 and was viewed by 6.2 million people in Britain - 24 per cent of the total TV audience at that hour. The Wallander film series also recently won the British Academy Television Award for Best Drama Series.
One important side effect of these Swedish literary successes is that their impact on the tourist trade. "If we compare 2003, a year when no films were shot in Ystad, with 2008, when the British made the Wallander films, here in Ystad the hotel, restaurant and shopping revenues increased by 57 per cent," says Itta Johnson, head of tourism and information in Ystad.
City walks inspired by Swedish books gain the tourism industry
A growing number of tours are being organised in Ystad in the footsteps of Wallander. Among other things you can go on film tours and guided city walks to various places described in Mankell's books. And this summer, those who like Stieg Larsson's books will be able to do the same thing in Stockholm.
"This is extremely important for tourism, even in the long term. Many of those who came here because they liked Wallander come back because they discovered Ystad in the process," Ms Johnson says.
This year the Wallander films will also be shown in the US, which should hardly diminish interest in the books, which have been translated to 36 languages and have sold in 35-40 million copies.
Three new Wallander-based British films will also be shot in 2010, but it has not yet been decided which books will be part of the package. Well known actor and director Kenneth Branagh, who also plays Wallander, is looking forward to the gig. "We learned a lot the first time around and know that we can do even better," Mr Branagh told the Swedish newspaper "Expressen".