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Hysteria as 'Hornet's Nest' hits US shelves

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Hysteria as 'Hornet's Nest' hits US shelves
14:15 CEST+02:00
The US is in the grip of Stieg Larsson fever as the third instalment of the Swedish author's Millennium trilogy, The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest, prepares to go on wide release in book stores across the nation on Tuesday.

"It's an authentic phenomenon," the LA Times wrote on Monday going on to describe the Millennium novels at the heart of "a great age of the Nordic noir".

US audiences have had to wait longer than most for their version of the final instalment of the Millennium trilogy and in the meantime a veritable hysteria has been built up around the books, which have sold a whopping 40 million worldwide to date.

The New York Times has devoted a wealth of column inches on Monday to a thorough analysis of the Stieg Larsson story complete with real-life intrigue that has followed his death and the bitter fight over the rights to his legacy.

The newspaper compares the scale of the hype to no less than Harry Potter and the Victorian-era British master storyteller Charles Dickens.

"Americans haven't been so eager for a book since the early 1840s, when they thronged the docks in New York, hailing incoming ships for news of Little Nell in Charles Dickens's Old Curiosity Shop," Charles McGrath, a former editor of the Book Review, writes.

The British version came out sometime ago and many impatient Americans have simply ordered their copy from there, but Larsson's US publisher Knodf expects high demand and has already printed 750,000 copies of the book which pits the hacker-heroine Lisbeth Salander against the might of the Swedish state apparatus.

The most obvious typographical change between the UK and US additions is the shift in the apostrophe in the title to singularize the hornet.

In the third book Larsson finally reveals the grim truth of Lisbeth Salander's insalubrious life story and plots the delicate battle of wits between the unlikely heroine and her powerful opponents.

The Salander character continues to capture the imagination of US reviewers, following the rousing eulogies afforded to the US release of the filmatization of the first of the novels, The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo in March.

"I can't think of an American actress who could play Lisbeth... Someone able to play hard as nails and emotionally unavailable. Make her a Swede, and simply cast Noomi Rapace," The Chicago Sun Times star critic Roger Ebert wrote referring to the Swedish star.

But according to the latest reports filtering out from Hollywood, Carey Mulligan of An Education fame is set to fill the role when the English language versions of the films start filming in the autumn.

The New York Times portrait summons up almost every Swedish literary notable that has made any impression States-side -- from August Strindberg to Pippi Longstocking, Ingmar Bergman to, well, Stieg Larsson -- and claims that the latter has introduced readers to a new Sweden.

"A Sweden that is vastly different from the bleak, repressed, guilt-ridden images we see in Ingmar Bergman movies and from the design-loving Socialist paradise we imagine whenever we visit Ikea. It's a country that turns out to be a lot like our own," McGrath writes.

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