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Scandinavian Noir: In Pursuit of a Mystery

by Lesser, Wendy and Wendy Lesser

Paperback $36.99

$36.99

$36.99

For nearly four decades, Wendy Lesser’s primary source of information about three Scandinavian countries—Sweden, Norway, and Denmark—was mystery and crime novels, and the murders committed and solved in their pages. Having never visited the region, Lesser constructed a fictional Scandinavia, something between a map, a portrait, and a cultural history of a place that both existed and did not exist. Lesser’s Scandinavia was disproportionately populated with police officers but was also filled with the stuff of everyday life, relayed in great detail in the novels she read: a fully realized world complete with its own traditions, customs, and, of course, people.

Over the course of many years, Lesser’s fictional Scandinavia grew more and more solidly visible to her, especially as it became augmented by Nordic movies and TV shows. Yet she never had a strong desire to visit the real countries that corresponded to the made-up ones—until, she writes, “between one day and the next, that no longer seemed sufficient.” It was time to travel to Scandinavia.

With vivid storytelling and an astonishing command of the literature, Wendy Lesser’s Scandinavian Noir: In Pursuit of a Mystery illuminates the vast, peculiar world of this imagined Scandinavia—first as it appears on the page, then as it grows in her mind, and finally as it exists in reality. Shaped by sharp criticism, evocative travel writing, and a whimsical need to discover “the difference between existence and imagination, reality and dream,” Scandinavian Noir is a thrilling and inventive literary adventure from a masterful writer and critic.

Book Information

  • ISBN: 9781250798404
  • Format: Paperback
  • Pub Date: 27/07/2021
  • Category: Literature & literary studies / Literary essays
  • Imprint: Picador US
  • Pages: 288
  • Price: $36.99

For nearly four decades, Wendy Lesser’s primary source of information about three Scandinavian countries—Sweden, Norway, and Denmark—was mystery and crime novels, and the murders committed and solved in their pages. Having never visited the region, Lesser constructed a fictional Scandinavia, something between a map, a portrait, and a cultural history of a place that both existed and did not exist. Lesser’s Scandinavia was disproportionately populated with police officers but was also filled with the stuff of everyday life, relayed in great detail in the novels she read: a fully realized world complete with its own traditions, customs, and, of course, people.

Over the course of many years, Lesser’s fictional Scandinavia grew more and more solidly visible to her, especially as it became augmented by Nordic movies and TV shows. Yet she never had a strong desire to visit the real countries that corresponded to the made-up ones—until, she writes, “between one day and the next, that no longer seemed sufficient.” It was time to travel to Scandinavia.

With vivid storytelling and an astonishing command of the literature, Wendy Lesser’s Scandinavian Noir: In Pursuit of a Mystery illuminates the vast, peculiar world of this imagined Scandinavia—first as it appears on the page, then as it grows in her mind, and finally as it exists in reality. Shaped by sharp criticism, evocative travel writing, and a whimsical need to discover “the difference between existence and imagination, reality and dream,” Scandinavian Noir is a thrilling and inventive literary adventure from a masterful writer and critic.

Author Information

Wendy Lesser is the founder and editor of The Threepenny Review. She has written one novel and eleven previous works of nonfiction; recent books include Music for Silenced Voices, Why I Read, and You Say to Brick: The Life of Louis Kahn, which won the Marfield Prize for Arts Writing and the PEN America Award for Research Nonfiction. A recipient of grants and fellowships from the American Academy in Berlin, the Cullman Center for Scholars and Writers, the Guggenheim Foundation, the Swedish Academy, and numerous other organizations, she currently divides her time between Berkeley, California, and New York City.

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