Uriah Robinson of Crime Scraps published a piece of common sense the other day about why Scandinavian crime fiction is so popular.
He invoked an anecdote about a question to Atlanta students on a high school history exam: Why did the South lose the Civil War?
"Most of the class wrote reams and reams on the military, economic, social, political and demographic reasons," Uriah reported, "apart from one student who answered with one sentence: 'I think the Yankee Army had something to do with it.'"
"Scandinavian crime fiction is popular," he continued, "because it features good writing, usually excellent translation, well-thought-out plots and interesting characters."
Search his blog post from top to bottom, and you'll find no sociology, no commonplaces about Nordic stoicism, nothing about suicide or vodka or long nights. (You'll find precisely the opposite, in other words, of Laura Miller in the Wall Street Journal.)
It was a pleasure to see good writing, rather than sociology, invoked as a reason for popularity. Nordic crime writing is good? I think Arnaldur Indriðason (Or Jo Nesbø. Or Karin Fossum. Or ...) had something to do with it.
What are your favorite or least favorite takes on international crime fiction in the English-speaking world?
© Peter Rozovsky 2010