Sunday, April 24, 2011

Paaskekrim: Norwegian Crime for Easter

Paaskekrim Repost with additions

One of the biggest mysteries to me at Easter is Norway's Paaskekrim (Easter Crime), but it's pretty cool for crime fiction! Holy Thursday through Easter Monday is a public holiday in Norway, but 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.

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 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.

This idea 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. 

Norwegian crime writers

Karin Fossum
Jo Nesbo 

Kjersti Scheen
Gunnar Staalesen
Jon Michelet
Anne Holt

Kjell Ola Dahl
Pernille Rygg
K.O. Dahl

The Scandinavian issue of Mystery Readers Journal is still available (both has hardcopy and .pdf) and has over 92 pages of reviews, articles and Author! Author! essays, many by and about Norwegian crime writers.

Great websites about Norwegian crime writers

Scandinavian Crime Fiction
Scandinavian Books
International Noir Fiction
Detectives without Borders
Euro Crime


Anonymous said...

Janet - I didn't know that about Norway; interesting!!! Amazing how powerful a force publicity can be...

Bobbi Mumm said...

Interesting! I'll have to pass this to my dear Norwegian friend who lives here in Canada. But it may make her more homesick than ever.

kathy d. said...

How fantastic! Either I belong in Norway or we should adapt that ritual over here in the States!

I would love to spend several days reading mysteries, knowing others around me are doing the same -- and everyone understands this custom.

There is so much (Scandinavian crime fiction) to read and so little time.

An entire holiday devoted to this is like having great chocolate cake for several days.