The Glass Key: The best Nordic crime authors cross swords

The Nordic cooperation when it comes to crime fiction is blossoming – and the countries are contributing to each others’ publications like never before. But on the stage at the crime festival, Krimimessen, in Horsens, there was also room for a fierce sense of competition between the candidates for the Scandinavian crime award, The Glass Key, which is handed out in June.

On the stage, we have three out of the four candidates for this year’s crime award representing Sweden, Norway and Denmark, as well as last year’s winner from Norway, Jørn Lier Horst. At the head of this battle of crime fiction is the Danish critic Bo Tao Michaëlis who asks them questions about their candidacy as well as the international interest in Nordic crime fiction.

From the left: Gard Sveen (N), Simon Pasternak (DK), Jørn Lier Horst (N) and Christoffer Carlsson (S).
From the left: Gard Sveen (N), Simon Pasternak (DK), Jørn Lier Horst (N) and Christoffer Carlsson (S).

This year, the battle is between Swedish Christoffer Carlsson (Den osynlige mannen från Salem), the Norwegian Gard Sveen (Den siste pilgrimen), the Finnish Reijo Mäki (Sheriffen) and the Danish Simon Pasternak (Dødszoner). Iceland has not submitted a candidate this year.

There are plenty of smiles, humorous remarks and friendly banter on the stage. But The Glass Key is not a pity award; as a consequence, there are no room for the selected authors to rest on their laurels. There is a general consensus among the candidates that The Glass Key plays a huge part in opening doors for the nominated authors as well as the winner.

According to the Norwegian candidate, Gard Sveen, the Nordic crime fiction achieves its massive international popularity due to the outside world’s romantic notions about the Scandinavian countries, where the crime fiction is able to take you behind the scenes of this rosy picturesque image. However, the Swedish candidate Christoffer Calsson has a more cheeky and direct suggestion: “Because we are better than everyone else.”

But the remaining question begs to be asked – who is best? As Bo Tao Michaëlis ends the panel by saying: “May the best man win.”

And speaking of being the best. After this year’s crime festival in Horsens, one of Denmark’s most popular crime authors, Jussi Adler Olsen, complimented Krimimessen on being the best in the world – even when up against big book fairs and festivals in the rest of world, including USA etc.

“We are happy and proud,” says Vibeke Johansen, program director for Krimimessen.

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