Jo Nesbø: ‘We should talk about violence against women’

The Norwegian crime writer Jo Nesbø , 59, has sold more than 33m books worldwide and won a host of prizes, including the prestigious Glass Key for best Nordic crime novel. Nesbø took a circuitous route to becoming a bestselling author, playing football for Norway’s premier league team Molde before torn knee ligaments ended his career. He went on to form the band Di Derre, who topped the charts in Norway, and worked as a financial analyst before his first novel, The Bat , was published in 1997. Nesbø’s latest Harry Hole book, Knife , opens with Harry waking from a hangover covered in blood…

Harry Hole travels an extremely dark path in Knife … Was this always the plan?
It’s been on the cards for many years, actually. When I wrote my third novel [in the series], that was when I planned what was ahead for Harry. It’s all part of his life story, which belongs not only to the genre of crime fiction but also of classic tragedy. So it was bound to happen.

Did you know, when you wrote The Bat , that you would still be telling Harry ’s story 12 books later?
I knew that there were some key events in his life. But of course there have been lots of detours that I didn’t plan for.

Knife finds Harry drinking heavily, miserable, but also full of ingenious moments of intuition. Put like that, he sounds like a lot of fictional detectives . How do you keep him fresh?
I think in many ways it’s easier as you get to know him better. As you get older you get more interested in developing your friendships with your old friends than having new friends because it’s all on a deeper level; you’ve already done all the chit-chat. And it feels a bit the same way with Harry. I really know him, my readers know him, so we can get to the real business right away. /info/ng-interactive/2017/mar/30/sign-up-for-the-bookmarks-email Will you ever retire him?
He will not have eternal life. He probably won’t die from old age – but then again, who knows?

That sounds ominous…
What I can promise you is that when he is gone, he will not be resurrected.

And you won’t pass the Harry Hole franchise on to someone to write after your death?
Definitely not. I’m telling you right now – if that should happen, if you see somebody trying, you can quote me on this.

Here in the UK we label all crime writing from Scandinavia as Scandi noir, or Nordic noir. Does it really have something in common, or is it just where the authors come from?
I think basically it’s the latter. But then again I see it from the inside, and I can understand from the outside that there are certain similarities. It would be strange if there weren’t any – we share the same culture, the same social and political backdrop.


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