‘There Are Things I Want You to Know’ About Stieg Larsson and Me by Eva Gabrielsson

Gabrielsson's memoir provides a revealing look at the novelist’s life and discusses her battles with his family over the rights to his estate.

(Seven Stories, $24)

If the Swedish author Stieg Larsson hadn’t died of a heart attack at 50, seven years ago, none of us ever would have read a book titled The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, said Deirdre Donahue in USA Today. Instead, millions of copies of Larsson’s debut novel have sold under that name in the U.S. and elsewhere, mildly betraying the spirit of a man who was a committed feminist and thus “would have considered it demeaning to call a 24-year-old woman a girl.” That’s one tidbit that an obsessive reader of Larsson’s Millennium trilogy can pick up while reading this “memorably austere” memoir from the woman with whom Larsson spent most of his adult life. A “warrior in fighting for what she sees as justice,” the fierce Eva Gabrielsson also emerges as a probable inspiration for the fictional “girl” in question—neopunk hacktivist Lisbeth Salander.

Gabrielsson is certainly dogged enough, said David Carr in The New York Times. Though this thin, “difficult to follow” book will mostly be of interest to “Larsson completists,” it does provide “an intimate peek” into the novelist’s life. Not the successful journalist he aspired to be, Larsson instead labored in graphics for a Swedish news agency and managed to publish his exposés of right-wing Swedish extremists mostly in small progressive journals, including his own. A target of neo-Nazi death threats, he lived in fear of reprisal. But as Gabrielsson notes, the novels he began writing as a release allowed him to air his grievances against Swedish society in ways journalism hadn’t.

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If only Gabrielsson had stuck to those kinds of revelations, said Evelyn McDon­nell in the Los Angeles Times. Because she supported Larsson financially but never married him, she’s had to battle publicly with his family over rights to his estate and unpublished work, and she’s made a good chunk of this book read “like a court defense.” There’s no doubt that Gabrielsson has been wronged, or that Larsson, if he were alive, “would have leapt” to her aid. Given that he was capable of writing interesting prose, it may just be that “she needs him now more than ever.”

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