Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Lax understanding

Fjallbacka at dawn

NOW THAT we all think we can speak Scandinavian (and by “all”, obviously I mean all those who’ve lost 50 hours of their lives to The Killing, Borgen, and The Bridge), mastering the lingo for this trip should have been a doddle. But beyond “thanks”, which is helpfully something approximating “tack” in all three of the Nordic languages we’ve encountered, our Scandinavian remains embarrassingly sketchy.

Given how well everyone here speaks English, that shouldn’t matter. (So well, in fact, that one of the writers behind the BBC’s next Scandi show Lillyhammer – the Norwegian comic drama starring ex-Sopranos’ Steven van Zandt that will air this Autumn – told me local TV audiences didn’t mind characters speaking Norwegian and English because they could understand both languages.)

But I’ve run into trouble here in Fjallbacka because I can’t find what I want to read in English. The pretty coastal town is home to Sweden’s premier crime writer, Camilla Läckberg, whose detective series has outsold even Stieg Larsson on his home turf. She was born and brought up among Fjallbacka’s red clapboard cottages, and despite now living in Stockholm uses the town as the backdrop to all of her novels. A lack of British tourists, thus far at least, means that the local ironmongeress-cum-celebrity (Berith, the owner, is one of just two locals to feature as themselves in Läckberg’s books) only stocks the author’s original Swedish versions.

I’m told that this will change once the latest Läckberg TV series hits the airwaves. It’s being filmed now, and has already been snapped up by the French. My money is on the Beeb following suit, given its quest to mop up Nordic noirs. 

My lack of Swedish means I can also only guess at the recipes in the cookbook I found today in Berith’s store. Penned by Läckberg herself and her childhood buddy Christian Hellberg, who just happens to be Sweden’s top chef and another Fjallbacker, the book is a Nigella-esque tome that combines the requisite lifestyle porn and enough glamorous friend envy to make it an immediate hit in Britain, were it to be available in translation.

Perhaps the Beeb should stop looking for Scandi thrillers and get Läckberg fronting her own Nordic cookery show. 

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