Gabrielsson blames Millennium feud on men who hate women

As the dispute over the estate of late Swedish author Stieg Larsson heats up, his longtime partner, Eva Gabrielsson, is starting to feel like Millennium-trilogy heroine Lisabeth Salander, the AFP's Robert MacPherson discovers.

Gabrielsson blames Millennium feud on men who hate women

In her fight over the legacy of her longtime partner Stieg Larsson, Eva Gabrielsson finds her life starting to resemble that of the goth-punk heroine of his phenomenal Millennium trilogy.

Just as tattooed hacker Lisabeth Salander contends with men who hate women, so Gabrielsson suspects misogyny among those denying her the right to administer one of publishing’s hottest properties: his literary estate.

“I think it’s true,” she told AFP on Thursday in Paris, where her 160-page memoir of her 32 years alongside the crusading journalist who penned “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” and its sequels has just been published.

“There’s a lot of truth in that. Those who are doing this are men,” she said, acknowledging that her life after Larrson’s untimely death might as well be the fourth volume of his best-selling crime thriller saga.

“It would have fit extremely well into the Millennium series. It really would,” she said.

Larsson, founder of a small magazine in Stockholm that shed light on Sweden’s neo-Nazi underworld, was 50 when he died soon before Millennium became the biggest global publishing phenomenon of the 21st century.

In her memoir, “Millennium, Stieg and Me,” Gabrielsson describes her life with the journalist-cum-novelist, their close collaboration, and the feud with his family that erupted after he died without leaving a will.

“I’ve got my apartment back after three years, Stieg’s half of it,” said the soft-spoken architect during a half-hour at a Left Bank boutique hotel where parakeets chirped in a cage beside her.

“They finally signed those papers in August 2007. I got my money back; we had joint bank accounts and I got that back…but all I asked for was the right to manage the literary estate.”

She does not want full ownership of the estate, she said, but just the power to oversee what happens to the Millennium franchise as publishers and film producers explores way to milk it for maximum profit.

One of their arguments for not letting her administer the rights, she said, was that doing so would put her in conflict with the rights now held by Yellow Bird, producers of the Swedish-language film versions of the books.

Those rights include the right to develop characters, “so that means they would serialise their own productions, write their own manuscripts for 15 to 18 films, which they are known to do — they’ve done it with another Swedish crime writer.”

Gabrielsson had not spoken with the family since August 2005 when, during a visit to the Larsson home in Umeå, northern Sweden, his brother Joakim proposed a novel solution: that she marry her late partner’s father Erland.

The idea left her “petrified,” she writes in the memoirs.

Last week the feud went online when Joakim Larsson attacked Gabrielsson’s memoirs as “so many falsehoods and misleading statements… We have not contributed to a ‘Stieg Larsson industry’ aside from books and films, which was Stieg’s own wish.”

Of the much-rumoured fourth volume, Gabrielsson — who is ready to finish it if the Larsson family lets her administer the literary estate — told AFP that it opens somewhere in Canada, with Lisbeth still the central character.

“There is no book as such. There is the beginning of a book. People don’t seem to understand that it’s a fragment. It’s something between a sketchbook and a manuscript,” she said.

It exists in a computer — exactly where that computer is, Gabrielsson would not say — with no known print-out, amounting to about 200 pages in total, “but the family was never interested in letting me finish it.”

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Lisbeth Salander is back in fifth Millennium book

The Millennium series' famous computer hacker Lisbeth Salander is set to grip readers' imaginations again as the fifth volume hits the bookshelves on Thursday.

Lisbeth Salander is back in fifth Millennium book
Author David Lagercrantz. Photo: Vilhelm Stokstad/TT

The new book by the 55-year-old David Lagercrantz, titled 'The Girl Who Takes an Eye For an Eye', promised to reveal more secrets surrounding the mysterious Salander's troubled childhood and the true meaning behind her iconic dragon-shaped tattoo.

When Lagercrantz's 'The Girl in the Spider's Web', which received mixed reviews, was launched in 2015, he was met with overcrowded press conferences, journalists waiting in the queue for interviews, and he signed books until midnight.

The launch of the fifth volume is more low key as Lagercrantz will make no public appearance until he kicks off his book tour on September 10th.

'The Girl in the Spider's Web' was the first to continue the trilogy conceived by Stieg Larsson, who became one of the world's best-loved crime writers.

But Larsson's fame came posthumously as he died at the age of 50 from a heart attack in 2004, a year before the release of the first book in the series, 'The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo', followed by 'The Girl Who Played with Fire' (2006) and 'The Girl Who Kicked the Hornets' Nest' (2007).

'More banal'

While many Larsson fans rejoiced over the continuation of the trilogy when Lagercrantz was selected to write the fourth book, some – including Larsson's longtime partner Eva Gabrielsson – vehemently opposed him taking up the torch, calling him “a totally idiotic choice”.

“Everybody was very curious. We wanted to see if he was going to succeed,” Kerstin Bergman, literature professor at Lund University, told AFP.

“It was a good crime novel, very different from Stieg Larsson's,” she said, referring to the fourth book, which sold six million copies in 47 countries.

“There were introspective characters,” Bergman added.

Lagercrantz intends to transform the series and convince those who criticize his endeavour.

But as much as readers can't get enough of Salander's punk-rock style and feminist flair, the hype over Lagercrantz's continuation of the series is not what it used to be.

“Now it's more banal. People love characters and want to read about their adventures,” said Bergman, who is also a specialist in Nordic Noir, a genre that mixes crime fiction and social criticism.

“Continuing the series as it did is extremely unusual (…) it's an exclusively commercial project, but the choice of Lagercrantz is probably the best,” Bergman said.

'More sensitive character'

In 'The Girl Who Takes an Eye For an Eye', Lagercrantz throws Salander “into the worst prison for women, where she immediately encounters a lot of problems”, he told AFP in the spring.

Alongside Salander, readers will find Mikael Blomqvist, a talented investigative journalist who's also worn out by life.

As the duo investigate the abuse of power and the social injustice that Salander has gone through, they try to overcome new obstacles.

And if the author believes that Salander has seen enough in the previous crime novels, then the worst may be yet to come.

Lagercrantz has admitted that bringing this young woman with a dark past back to life in the books has caused him a headache. Contrary to Stieg Larsson, Lagercrantz said he would have chosen a heroine with a “sweeter, nicer and more sensitive” character.

In a relentless search for inspiration, Lagercrantz wrote on his publishing company's website that he interviewed “doctors, archivists, robotics researchers, Bangladeshi bloggers threatened to death” and visited a prison in south-eastern Sweden.

'The Girl Who Takes an Eye For an Eye' is to be published in 34 countries. Twenty-six of these countries, including Sweden, Britain, the United States, Germany and France, will release the book on Thursday.

A former journalist, Lagercrantz was previously best known for his biography of footballer Zlatan Ibrahimovic.

Lagercrantz has also signed on to write the sixth book, which he insisted would be his last in the series.

Article written by AFP's Camille Bas-Wohlert