The shortlist for the 2016 Petrona Award has been announced. I have a soft spot for the award because it is given in honour of a much-missed reading friend and covers a category of books I’m very partial to (Scandinavian crime fiction that has been translated into English). But I’ve a bit of a problem with this year’s list
The good news (for me) is that I have read three of the six shortlisted novels
- THE DEFENCELESS by Kati Hiekkapelto tr. David Hackston (Orenda Books; Finland)
- SATELLITE PEOPLE by Hans Olav Lahlum tr. Kari Dickson (Mantle/Pan Macmillan; Norway)
- DARK AS MY HEART by Antti Tuomainen tr. Lola Rogers (Harvill Secker; Finland)
Frankly I’d find it difficult to pick a winner just from these three though if pressed I think I’d give it to THE DEFENCELESS by the tiniest of margins. Though if you ask me tomorrow I might give a different answer.
Of the remaining three novels there is still time to read them before the winner is announced on May 21 and I already own 2 of them
- THE CAVEMAN by Jorn Lier Horst tr. Anne Bruce (Sandstone Press; Norway)
- THE DROWNED BOY by Karin Fossum tr. Kari Dickson (Harvill Secker; Norway)
My dilemma is with the final book on the list.
- THE GIRL IN THE SPIDER’S WEB by David Lagercrantz tr. George Goulding (MacLehose Press; Sweden)
It’s a problem for me on two levels.
Firstly, though less importantly, one of my self-imposed reading goals for this year was to read no books with Girl in the title. I could be heard muttering phrases such as bandwagon jumping under my breath as I finished the last one and vowed NO MORE! As a counter argument the series that this book is part of did start the current trend for Girl books so cannot really be said to be part of the pack which should probably qualify it for an exemption.
Secondly I have had a lifelong commitment to not reading series books that have been written by someone else after the original series author has died (is there a word for that in English? If so I don’t know it. I bet the Germans have a word for it, they always have good words for complex things). I adore Douglas Adams writing but have not read Eoin Colfer’s sixth installment of Adams’ five book Hitchhiker’s trilogy. Nor I have I read Sophie Hannah’s Hercule Poirot or Eric Van Lustbader’s Bourne novels or Anthony Horowitz’ Bond. To me the borrowing of someone else’s creation and taking it in a direction that cannot possibly – however decent the intent – be what the original author would have done feels morally questionable and it has been my practice to avoid it. But am I wrong? The older I get the more wrong I seem to have been about most things (I did for example scoff at the absurdity of that Simpson’s episode where Lisa had to rebuild America after a Trump presidency) so perhaps I should change my thinking?
Anyone got any definite opinions on the matter? Am I being obstinate or principled? Is it really OK for someone to take someone else’s literary creation and have their way with them (so to speak). Should I read this Girl book or not?