“The grey, the gloomy, the cold, all these tings create a kind of an atmosphere where bad things can happen” – Val McDermid
A mix between dark melancholy, scenic fjords and picturesque cities- Nordic Noir is the way to binge view series this autumn. I’ve rounded up a list of the best Nordic television series so you don’t have to!
In the past years, crime fiction from the Nordic region has captivated an entire world. What is often collectively labelled as Scandinavian Crime Fiction, Scandicrime, le polar polaire, or Schwedenkrimi, and has lately been embraced by the catchier concept of Nordic Noir. It consists of a very diverse collection of authors and novels from Sweden, Denmark, Norway, Finland and Iceland- and numerous crime fiction sub-genres.
In this article I will give you a full understanding of Nordic Noir and of course a list of Nordic Noir books & series!
What is Nordic Noir?
Nordic Noir is a genre of crime fiction written from a police point of view. Why is this Nordic exactly? Well, because that is something that repeats itself in Nordic series and it is a major hit every time! The settings often have bleak landscapes and the mood is equally dark and morally complex. The hero is often an anti-hero, meaning that the person is not always as good as he or she should be.
The term Nordic Noir is a popular phenomenon outside of the Nordic region- whereas people in the North would just say crime shows.
The Five Attractions*
These are the five attractions (from Kerstin Bergman’s article) that makes Nordic Noir what it is and why readers find it so very captivating.
The Stieg Larsson effect
It all started with Stieg Larsson’s Millennium trology where most commercial pblishers of fiction around the globe attempted to ‘discover’ and contract the next Stieg Larsson from among the Nordic crime writers. This gave a huge increase in Nordic crime writers being brought to the surface to an extent that would never have been possible otherwise.
Welfare State Criticism
The consept behind Nordic Noir is the idea of challeging the welfare state- or to look beyond that if you will. A way to look beyond the happy and safe environment and rather focus on the darker sides. Many of the authors of the crime fiction are inspired by the flaws in the welfare state. International crime fiction readers gets a inside scoop as they learn about the not so perfect aspects of the Nordic welfare state- in a way getting an upper hand on their friends who still believe everything is fine and dandy in Scandinavia. Some might even find comfort and pleasure in learning the fact that “perfect” Scandinavia is not so perfect after all.
Gender equality and strong women characters
The Nordic countries are known for their gender equality, and reading about women who combine career and family- or men who take parental leave, cook for their family and clean the house is also a big part of the Nordic Noir attraction for female readers from other countries. The majority of fiction readers are women, and these women naturally desire strong female characters to identify with.
Exotic nature & landscape
A strong bond to the anglo-american crime fiction
A few authors to mention
Per Fredrik Wahlöö
Who is your favorite author? Leave a comment below!
Thistles and Kiwis
Maj Sjowall and Per Wahloo (sorry for lack of accents!) – they really set the tone for Nordic Noir don’t you think? You also missed off Henning Mankell, whose books pre date Stieg Larsson. Just my comments though :-). Love your description of the genre.
Ah, yes! I love to hear your opinion of authors. They do indeed set the tone for Nordic Noir and Beck is very famous over here! They are added to the list 🙂