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"storyteller!" blurb--it has a good bit of punch to it. There's yet to be a decent explanation for why American readers have spent the last decade jacking themselves off to Nordic versions of the same kind of family secret novels and crime fictions that their own country produces plenty of already..."

You're right. I've been wondering the same thing recently. Although I have to admit I was quite impressed with "The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo." I mean, it wasn't genius or anything, but I was expecting a poorly written book on par with John Grisham and found pretty good genre fiction inside.

But the whole Nordic book phenomenon is really a strange one. My guess is it's because the Nordic area seems like a xenophobic culture's wet dream - the economies there are strong yet there's not much immigration. I could be all wet on that guess, though.

I'm not sure what you're saying in the last part there. American audiences are attracted to the literature of xenophobic cultures, but only in the last decade?

This isn't one of those situations where I have a pet theory I'm trying to promote. It strikes me as curious how many new books are getting translated out of the Danish/Swedish/Norwegian trio. More than willing to hear you out, but right now you've stumped me.

"It strikes me as curious how many new books are getting translated out of the Danish/Swedish/Norwegian trio."

Mind-control chemicals pumped into the air at IKEA?


This isn't one of my most well thought out ideas, and I'm not married to it or anything, but here goes....

I think there's been a lot more hysteria over illegal immigrants and Muslims in the past 10 years. I think subconsciously, the Scandinavia region is appealing to the average American because it's appealing to think there's this entire world where beautiful, blonde, blue eyed people are running around with good jobs and where no one from Mexico or the Middle East is trying to sneak into and threaten their livelihoods through either employment or blowing skyscrapers up. And I think if there are books out there set in this fantasy land, then Americans would tend to read them.

I dunno - it's a sort of dismissive, cynical view of my countrymen, but that's how I'm feeling nowadays.

If I didn't adequately explain it that time, oh well. I'm not trying to make this some cause I believe in, it's just a passing thought I've had once or twice.

Well, as reaching theories to explain odd cultural blips go, that's one of the more appealingly convoluted I've heard.

I don't know, man, the only people I ever talk to with any kind of opinion on Scandinavia are death metal morons. Seems to me like the book surge is more a publisher's decision than anything. They're straining for a hit, so they throw out some writers with exotic names that might catch the eye in a Barnes & Noble. Who knows? Why are the film snobs crushing on boring Romanian dramas? Maybe it's just a case where a bunch of works are coming from a region no one thinks about, and people are curious to know what's up. I once heard a book agent tacitly admit that one of the reasons she took on Jhumpa Lahiri's Interpreter of Maladies was because it was about a region no one was writing about. Maybe it's all just novelty, you know?

It just now occurs to me that what you've suggested is not dissimilar from Avatar, if you just replace perfect cat people with perfect blonde people. So, point for that theory, I guess?

Actually, Joel, I like your idea *much* better - that it's publishers stretching for a hit. That makes more sense. I think my theory says more about my current disillusionment with people than anything else.

I'll tell you this, man - I was in Barnes & Noble last night, and they had a big display of some writer named Brad Thor. Don't know his work, having looked at just the covers and titles I'm guessing he writes thrillers, either legal or spy. Maybe both?

But the point is, even knowing he was awful by looking at the cover, I was still drawn to the name. I mean, Brad THOR. If I was an agent or an editor at a publishing house, I'd take him on for the name alone. I think, honestly, that most weird cultural blips can be ascribed to a tight group of people who know exactly what they want to produce, or a loose network of people who have no idea what to put out next but BY GOD THERE ARE DEADLINES, MAN.

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