Article published on July 31, 2015.
The history of posthumously-published work is not exactly an edifying one; rarely are literary reputations enhanced in the process. The strange case of Stieg Larsson complicates the issue because the three books of his bestselling Millennium Trilogy, discovered after his death in 2004, complete and ready to go, were published posthumously and made him a huge literary celebrity. Clearly these were books Larsson intended to submit for publication at some stage. But did he intend that the lives of the characters so brilliantly portrayed in the Trilogy should be prolonged in new books to be written by someone else? Hard to say, but this is precisely what is about to happen as MacLehose Press (an imprint of Quercus) publisher of the books in the UK, prepares to launch a fourth book in the series entitled The Girl in the Spider’s Web.
According to veteran publisher Christopher MacLehose, “Larsson wrote down the shadowy outline of 10 books” in the Millennium series before he died and “I have the strongest sense that if he was unable to give his creations Salander and Blomkvist fresh life, I think he would have wanted above everything for them to be let loose on the stage.” “Let loose” is one way of spinning it but in fact, Salander and Blomkvist have been entrusted to David Lagercrantz, a Swedish journalist and best-selling author who, like Larsson, has written about crime as a journalist and as an author. Swedish editor Eve Gedin explains: “He has this thing for oddballs and complex geniuses and that was in the end what made him the perfect match.” In effect, Lagercrantz will be writing faux-Larsson novels from those “shadowy outlines” the status of which seems every bit as “shadowy.”
The publisher’s press release is keen to elevate the extension of Larsson’s legacy to the level of Harper Lee’s Go Set a Watchman as the publishing industry’s next big event of 2015 and in that they will no doubt be successful, but to what extent will readers and fans detect the true spirit of Stieg Larsson at work in the novel? One who certainly won’t be feeling it very strongly is former partner, Eva Gabrielson, who recently said in an interview “The worst thing is how saddened Stieg would have been. He never let anyone work on his literary texts. He would have been furious. Who knows, maybe he’ll send a lightning bolt at the book launch.” Promises to be a helluva launch party!
Bert Wright, Editor – The Nudge List
David Lagercrantz (c) Caroline Andersson
The Girl in the Spider’s Web by David Lagercrantz and George Goulding is published by MacLehose Press in hardback on 27th August.
Watch a video about the book
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