Thursday, April 5, 2012

Paaskekrim: Norwegian Crime for Easter

With the increased interest in Scandinavian crime, especially the large number of Scandinavians now available in English, I thought I should repost about Norway's Paaskekrim (Easter Crime)! 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 time series of books known as "Easter-Thrillers" or PĂ„skekrimmen, 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.

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 Sceen

Gunnar Staalesen

Jon Michelet
Anne Holt

Kjell Ola Dahl

Pernille Rygg

K.O. Dahl

Jorn Lier Horst
Thomas Enger 

Great websites about Norwegian crime writers
Scandinavian Crime Fiction
Scandinavian Books
International Noir Fiction
Detectives without Borders
Euro Crime
Scandinavian issue of Mystery Readers Journal 
Hardcopy and PDF -- over 92 pages of reviews, articles and Author! Author! essays, many by and about Norwegian crime writers.


Sue Trowbridge said...

I found a great quote in a Swedish blogpost about the phenomenon (apparently Swedes are bemused by this Norwegian tradition -- in Sweden, mysteries tend to be published in time for summer reading, not Easter). "The Norwegian newspapers write a lot about pÄskekrim. Over the years, they have launched many theories about why we read detective stories for Easter. I'm most attracted by the religious explanation, that Easter has its origins in a crime - the murder of Jesus." -Norwegian publishing manager Einar Iben Holt.

Priscilla said...

Love your holiday crime lists, Janet! Thank you, as always, for adding to my TBRs. Enjoyed finding out about the custom too.