Weekend results for the foreign thrills remake, The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, placed the movie at #3 overall, and brought in an estimated $12,750,000 in ticket receipts or 39.3% of the overall gross. Squeamish onlookers gasped at the explicit violence leveled against Lisbeth Salander—the tattooed and anorexic young woman with a pierced nose and eyebrows. Some questioned if the graphic rape scene crossed over from art to voyeurism, and what kind of depraved mind would lend itself to write such sadism?
Swedish-born Stieg Larsson (first name pronounciation: sounds like league) spent most of his life fighting against racism and right-wing extremism. When he wasn’t working as a full-time graphic artist and journalist, he gave lectures on social injustice and even led diversity training sessions for the Scotland Yard. He and lifetime companion, Eva Gabrielsson, spent the last fifteen years of their lives dodging death threats from right-wing extremists.
Although his work includes graphic violence against women, his writing denounces social injustice and his main protagonist is, herself, a strong woman who fights back.
Systematic in all of his life journeys, Larsson outlined the facts, analyzed his research, and synopsized all 10 books before he started writing his Millennium Series in 1997. Moreover, the former journalist and graphics artist finished writing the first two books before he queried a publisher. On two separate occasions, he, then Eva, contacted the Swedish publishing company Piratförlaget, that twice returned his unopened manuscript with standard-form rejection letters. When Larsson (b. 1954) died of a sudden heart attack in November 2004, he left behind the three completed, but unpublished manuscripts.
Eventually, all three books were published: Book #1, Män son hatar kvinnor which means “men who hate women,” was first published in Sweden in 2005. He posthumously received the Glass Key award as the best Nordic crime novel in 2006. Larsson’s UK publisher renamed it The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo and published the book in 2008.
In May 2006 Book #2, Flickan som lekte med elden, known in the U.S. as The Girl Who Played With Fire was published in Sweden and earned the Best Novel of the Year Award by the Swedish Crime Fiction Academy. Book #3, Luftslottet som sprängdes, or The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest published in Sweden in 2008. It also won the Glass Key award for best Nordic crime novel of the year.
Former colleague, Kenneth Ahlborn, said that the popular children’s character, Pippi Longstocking, inspired the development of the tattooed girl. Larsson envisioned a grown up Pippi as a dysfunctional girl, probably with ADD, who would have a hard time fitting into “normal society,” and he used those characteristics when he created Lisbeth.
U.S.-based Knopf/Random House published The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo and The Girl Who Played With Fire in 2008 and 2009, respectively. In May 2010, Knopf/Doubleday published The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest.
Larsson was the first person to be inducted into Amazon’s Kindle Million Club in July 29, 2010. Access into the prestigious club requires authors to sell at least 1 million copies of their e-books in Kindle format. Marketing and giveaway copies do not qualify. The current price points for his Kindle titles are as follows:
- #1 The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo (Millennium series) (Kindle Edition-$9.99, sold by Random House Digital/price set by publisher)
- #2 The Girl Who Played With Fire (Kindle Edition-$9.99, sold by Random House Digital/price set by publisher)
- #3 The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest (Kindle Edition-$12.99, sold by Random House Digital/price set by publisher)
His books have sold more than 45 million copies in 41 countries and he was the second bestselling author in the world in 2008. It is believed that the unfinished manuscript of his 4th book focused mainly on Lisbeth Salander, and how her personality changes when she starts to deal with conflicts of her past. Her tattoos are explained, and you are told that each one represents a person who has hurt her throughout her life, both mentally and physically. The book’s Swedish title was to have been, Guds hämd (English translation: “God’s revenge”).