Monday 25 March 2013

A Swedish critique

Reading my way through the crime decalogue of Sjöwall and Wahlöö, the famous Swedish writers, creators of police detective Martin Beck. This latest reading spree was triggered by finding the first volume in a bookshops' discount bin on a pavement in Picton. (Fortunately, Wellington's central library has most of the others, recently republished by Harper Perennial).

Many emotions are swirling around us here at the moment as people we care about suddenly lose their jobs and are in financial trouble. So I escape briefly into this other world. I have read five books so far, without analysing very much. It is a relief that they are both intelligent and light.

Sjöwall and Wahlöö were a wife and husband team. Their aim was to provide an accurate description of police at work (what is called 'police procedural') while also depicting Swedish society and its problems: they were communists and readers may often themselves siding with the common man, the worker struggling to makes ends meet whereas rich insensitive folk live it up.

Given what is happening in the world economically, their point of view seems pretty accurate to me: destruction of the middle classes, while a vast proletariat is created which exists purely as a market for the goods and services churned out by the wealthy one percenters. A return to the social structure of the Victorian era.

The Occupy movement had a point, even though their efforts were disjointed and lacked clear goals.

Added some days later : Read their last book in the Martin Beck series, The Terrorists. Some parts of it read like a political tract, but it is still a page-turner. And their last word is 'Marx'.

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