Thursday, April 9, 2009

Paaskekrim: Norwegian Crime for Easter


One of the biggest mysteries for me at Easter is Norway's Paaskekrim (Easter Crime). From Holy Thursday through Easter Monday is a public holiday in Norway, and it's also a time when just about everyone in Norway reads crime novels. Bookstore displays are full of detective novels, television and radio stations run crime serials and newspapers publish special literary supplements, all catering to Norwegians’ thirst for thrills.

This is a very peculiar national activity. Publishers actually churn out series of books known as "Easter-Thrillers" or Påskekrimmen, and dates of publication are moved to Spring and released at this time when the sale of mysteries goes up 50%. TV stations, radio and newspapers follow suit by running detective series based on the works of famous crime novelists such as Agatha Christie, P.D. James, Simenon and Ruth Rendell.

But why does Norway, where bloodbaths are rare, choose Easter to delve into crime solving? According to one widely accepted theory, the tradition began in 1923 as the result of a marketing coup. Advertisements that resembled news items were published on the front pages of several newspapers, shocking readers who failed to grasp that it was a publicity stunt.

The initiative spread like wildfire among other publishing houses, and the crime novel became one of the few forms of entertainment available during the Easter break. Cafes, restaurants and movie theatres were closed during Easter, which was supposed to be a time of introspection and repentance. There was no radio, and of course no television either. But everyone could read, and so the Easter crime novel was born, and with it came a bevy of renowned crime authors, including Jo Nesbo, Karin Fossum, Anne Holt and Jon Michelet.

The tradition lives on. The crime novel is just part of the holidays.

A few Norwegian crime writers:
Karin Fossum
Jo Nesbo
Kjersti Scheen
Gunnar Staalesen
Jon Michelet
Anne Holt
Kjell Ola Dahl

The Scandinavian issue of Mystery Readers Journal is still available and has over 92 pages of reviews, articles and author! author! essays, many by and about Norwegian crime writers.

Two great websites to bookmark with occasional blogs on Norwegian crime writers:
Detectives without Borders
Euro Crime

4 comments:

Auntie Knickers said...

I haven't read any of the Norwegian crime writers yet, and will be interested to compare them with the Swedes. However, there's also at least one English crime novel set in Norway that I remember fondly, Robert Barnard's Death in a Cold Climate. Excellent! By the way the verification word is ingsted, which sounds like a Norwegian surname to me.

Valora said...

I recently came accross your blog and have been reading along. I thought I would leave my first comment. I dont know what to say except that I have enjoyed reading. Nice blog. I will keep visiting this blog very often.


Sarah

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Anonymous said...

Now if only more countries would do this... very civilised.

Valonia said...

I recently came accross your blog and have been reading along. I thought I would leave my first comment. I dont know what to say except that I have enjoyed reading. Nice blog. I will keep visiting this blog very often.


Ann

http://racingonlinegames.net