Swedish author Larsson's legacy under attack

Fri Jan 29, 2010 12:03pm EST
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By Nicholas Vinocur

STOCKHOLM (Reuters Life!) - Former colleagues of best-selling crime fiction author Stieg Larsson have caused a furor in Sweden by questioning his talent as a writer and casting public doubt on whether he penned his books alone.

Larsson has gained mythical status since his sudden death six years ago. His "Millennium" trilogy of novels, a dark tale which exposes the underbelly of Sweden's industrial elite, became a global phenomenon and sold more than 12 million copies.

Lately, however, most talk of Larsson's work in Sweden has centered on public criticism of his reporting methods, his talent as a writer, as well as allegations that his life partner of 32 years could actually have written much of Millennium.

"I am definitely not out to defame Larsson -- I had a great deal of respect for him," Anders Hellberg, a former colleague of Larsson's at the Swedish TT newswire, told Reuters.

"But a person can't be good at everything, and writing wasn't his strong point. He simply didn't write well."

The Larsson debate became front-page news and took Sweden's literary world by storm in January after the publication of a critical portrait by Kurdo Baksi, who worked with the author at the defunct magazine Expo.

Baksi's book, in which he criticizes Larsson's reporting methods -- saying he sometimes used himself as a source for articles -- prompted a quick rebuke from the author's boss at TT, as well as accusations of "character assassination" from Larsson's partner Eva Gabrielsson.

But it also brought forward other skeptics.   Continued...