Journalist Anders Hellberg worked with Larsson at the TT news agency for a few years straddling the end of the seventies and the start of the eighties.
While Hellberg lauds Larsson for his research skills and encyclopedic knowledge of Sweden, he also stresses the extreme verbal limitations of a man whose death predated a rapid rise to the top of the world’s best-seller lists.
Hellberg recalls that Larsson often worked with the production of graphs and tables during his time at TT. Sometimes when the two worked together on a night shift Larsson would come to Hellberg to request help with the texts that were to accompany his graphics.
“I was able to note — and I don’t write this with the intention of in any way devaluing this gifted man — that he quite simply was not able to write. The language was stiff, the word order often wrong, the sentence structure basic, and the syntax sometimes completely insane. In other words, it was language that needed to be rewritten in order to work professionally,” Hellberg writes in an article published on Friday by his current employer, Dagens Nyheter.
Hellberg suggests that Larsson’s long-time partner Eva Gabrielsson may have been heavily involved in the writing process, a theory he says would also help to explain the bitter inheritance feud that has broken out between Gabrielsson and Larsson’s immediate family.
“I have tried to put these questions to Eva Gabrielsson but she has graciously declined the offer of an interview.
“Regarding my question about cooperation between her and Stieg on the Millennium books however, she replies by email that ‘I’m writing about that a bit myself in my own book’,” says Hellberg.
As The Local reported earlier this week, Gabrielsson has reacted with fury to a book about Larsson published by another of his former workmates, journalist Kurdo Baksi.
In the book, entitled ‘Min vän Stieg Larsson’ (My Friend Stieg Larsson), Baksi alleges that the author wrote biased articles and invented source material.
”Kurdo is trying to perform a character assassination of Stieg as a journalist. This is pure slander,” Gabrielsson told the Swedish television channel SVT.
All the furore over the new book has caused Kenneth Ahlborn, Larsson’s boss at the news agency for ten years, to leap to the Millennium author’s defence.
“To suggest that Stieg might have pushed through journalistically questionable texts at TT, or that he was generally viewed as a huffy wannabe who didn’t feel good enough to take his place among the ‘real’ journalists, is a viewpoint so ill-informed it almost leaves me gasping for breath,” he writes in Dagens Nyheter.