Dark, Difficult, Depressing: Nordic Crime Novels in the Eyes of the Beholder

  • Pamela Schultz Nybacka


Nordic crime novels have become a phenomenon on the global book market, famous for painting a dark picture of previously idealized societies. The success of Nordic Noir belongs specifically to its reception in Germany, which holds a longstanding interest in all things northern or Scandinavian. Nordic crime novels are translated and packaged in ways to render them with a specific northern ambiance: snowy, solitary, and sinister. Brands then belong with paratext, such as blurbs and cover images that construct a given text. The main argument is that brands like Nordic Noir resonate culture and thrive on the paratextual threshold. This chapter combines interviews with literary agents, an editor, and German-language readers with illustrative examples of paratextual elements of Nordic Noir, and especially Schwedenkrimi. First, the German market was already primed by interest in Noir and regional identity before the emergence of Nordic Noir, creating a backdrop for its reception. For readers, Nordic Noir connects outer and inner landscapes, creating a more nuanced understanding that even “normal” people can become criminal. To conclude, the case of crime novels and Nordic Noir highlights how paratext can bring out symbolic qualities of a text in a way that resonates and reverberates a brand, especially across cultural borders.


Baltic Sea Book cover Book market Brand paratext Crime novels Genre Germany Nordic Noir Popular literature Regionalization Schwedenkrimi Skandinavienkrimi 


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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Pamela Schultz Nybacka
    • 1
  1. 1.Södertörn UniversityHuddingeSweden

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