The Man Behind Lisbeth Salander

You may have heard of the best-selling novel The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo but does the name “Stieg Larsson” ring a bell? The Pink Paperbacks investigates the advocative author to unveil his rebellious and regretful history.


1. Advocacy runs in the family

Stieg Larsson was inspired by his grandfather whose strong anti-Nazi opinions allegedly led to his imprisonment in a work camp. According to his biography site, Larsson “wanted to protect equal rights and fight for democracy and freedom of speech in order to prevent history, and what happened to his grandfather, from repeating itself.

You go, Glen Coco.

2. He was a dedicated writer…at age 12.

For his twelfth birthday, Larsson received a typewriter and kept his family up through the night with the tap-tap-tap noise from the keys.

3. He was a seat-of-your-pants backpacking explorer

Larsson traveled to Africa after his military service but usually ran out of money mid-trip. In a Swedish interview in 2006, Larsson’s father explained how his son had to wash dishes and sell his clothes to buy a ticket home from Algeria.

4. Feminism is his forte

Larsson’s dedication for equality is reflected in his work. In The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (or the Swedish title Men Who Hate Women), Larsson introduces Lisbeth Salander, a rebellious tech guru with a treacherous past and a photographic memory. Lisbeth is emotionally strong, intelligent, mysterious and unchallenged. Journalist Mikael Blomkvist teams up with the badass researcher to track down women haters and unravel a mystery that has plagued a family for decades.


5. Despite threats, Larsson kept calm and carried on in his career

Larsson and his life partner, Eva Gabrielsson, were under constant threat from right-wing extremists. After his book about extremists was released, a neo-Nazi newspaper printed Larsson’s and another writer’s phone numbers, pictures and addresses. This made him work even harder against extremists and he created an anti-fascist magazine in 1995. Larsson even wrote a book for journalists with instructions on how to handle threats.

According to a New York Times article, Larsson’s friend Mikael Ekman describes the author as an experienced advocate for democracy.

“Stieg was a true idealist, a feminist, a believer in freedom,” Ekman reports. “He dedicated his whole life to fighting the right-wing extremists. The biggest thing Stieg did was not the books. It was the work he did for democracy.”

6. His last plot is a mystery

Since Larsson and Gabrielsson never married, Larsson’s sudden death in 2004 led to his estate being inherited by his relatives. Garielsson has the laptop with a partly finished script for the next book in the Millennium series but refuses to publish unless given the rights to manage the literary property.

7. He bleeds guilt into his words

When he was 15, Larsson watched his three friends rape a 15-year-old girl. He later asked for the victim’s forgiveness and she refused. The victim’s name was Lisbeth and since then, Larsson has been plagued with guilt.

Kurdo Baksi, a co-worker and close friend of Larsson, recalls Larsson’s regret in an ABC interview:

“Stieg told me, ‘I need to write this book’,” he said. “‘It’s really important to me. I saw a rape and I didn’t do anything. I felt terrible about what I had seen.'”

8. The author died before reaching fame

In 2004, Larsson died of a heart attack at age 50. He never knew of the fame that the Millennium series reached and the movie empire that followed.


Does the author reflect the novel? Let us know in the comment section below.

Read our review of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo next week!


One response to “The Man Behind Lisbeth Salander

  1. Pingback: Violence Against Women- A Review of ‘The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo’ | The Pink Paperbacks·

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