Kerstin Ekman (SE)

Writer and screenwriter. Born in Finspång in 1933. Member of Samfundet De Nio (The Nine Society) and former member of the Swedish Academy.

That Kerstin Ekman would be written into Swedish literature history and in 1978 succeed Harry Martinson in the Swedish Academy – as the third woman chairholder after Selma Lagerlöf and Elin Wägner – is something no one had imagined, least of all herself when she debuted in 1959 with the detective novel ”30 meter mord”. The novel became a success and was followed at rapid pace by a film script in collaboration with fellow crime writer Vic Suneson – Tärningen är kastad (1960) – as well six more detective novels.

Film work was no stranger to her at this point. After a master’s degree in literary history in Uppsala in 1957, she gained employment at Olle Nordemar’s Artfilm, where she worked closely together with director Olle Hellbom, the future provider of many an Astrid Lindgren adaptation. This was well before Hellbom’s Lindgren epoch, when he still made short films on various topics, among other things historical chronicles on Swedish kings. Kerstin Ekman served as a lecturer at Artfilm, but also wrote some of the narrative texts.

After the success of the first detective novel, she left Artfilm and became a freelance with Tärningen är kastad being the first assignment. The film, directed by Rolf Husberg with acclaimed television and film director Åke Falck in a rare acting lead as, incidentally, a television writer, took place in a television environment and this certainly played a part on the fact that the actual national Swedish television soon had their eye on Ekman’s talents. In 1962, they had premiered their first self-produced crime series, Halsduken, and now the head of entertainment Per-Martin Hamberg enquired if she would possibly be able to write them a new original Swedish series. Kerstin Ekman accepted the challenge and in 1963, Swedish television showcased the five-episode crime series Societetshuset. Bengt Lagerkvist directed and the series was well received, although the critics found the plot slightly contrived.

Ekman herself was even less satisfied. Maybe everything had gone a little too easy. In 1967 she published her first ”proper” novel, “Pukehornet” (named after a heraldic coat of arms), and with the novel suite “Kvinnorna och staden” (“The Women and the City”, 1974-1983), depicting her childhood town of Katrineholm, she was soon established as one of Sweden’s foremost serious writers.

Through the years, literary prizes of most shapes and distinctions have been bestowed upon her, including two August awards (named after August Strindberg). The first of these was for her biggest bestseller, “Händelser vid vatten” (“Backwaters”, 1993), whose murderous intrigues have attracted a number of film directors (for various reasons, there has yet been no film made on this novel). Already in 1972, Ingrid Dahlberg made a successful television drama based on the novel ”Mörker och blåbärsris” (“Darkness and Blueberry Twigs”) and in 1999 Daniel Alfredson adapted her last crime novel “Dödsklockan” (“The Death Clock”, 1963). This story about a drunken hunting party and an unfortunate stray bullet became an unusually successful and exciting television movie, which surely would also have been successful in the cinema. It had the right ingredients at every level; good plot and setting, acting and cinematography, and was seen by two million television viewers.

This time around, Kerstin Ekman was very pleased, and when Daniel Alfredson returned in 2007 and suggested an adaptation on an episode from the novel “Skraplotter” (“Lottery Scratchcards”, 2003; another August prize winner), he even managed to persuade her to write the script herself – 45 years after her latest television endeavour. She did it with flying colours; Varg (Wolf) is a story that convinces and touches. It tells objectively about the contradictions between those who want to protect the wolf tribe and those who want to eradicate it and about man and nature in necessary harmony. Jörgen Persson’s cinematography does the Northern landscape full justice, at once intimidating and magnificent.

Kerstin Ekman also contributed the voiceover narration in Roger Sellberg’s short feature Hunden (The Dogs, 2003), based on Ekman’s 1986 novella about a stray elkhound puppy.

Bengt Forslund (2018)
(Translated by Jan Lumholdt)

Basic info

Main professions: Author, Screenwriter
Born: 1933
Active: 1959-


Varg (2008)
Societetshuset (1963)
Tärningen är kastad (1960)

Ollebom (2002)

Hunden (2003)

Read more about the films at Svensk Filmdatabas (SE)

Published works

1959 – 30 meter mord (detektivroman)
1960 – Han rör på sig (detektivroman)
1960 – Kalla famnen (detektivroman)
1960 – Tärningen är kastad (filmmanus)
1961 – De tre små mästarna (detektivroman)
1962 – Den brinnande ugnen (detektivroman)
1963 – Dödsklockan (detektivroman) (film 1999 – se vidare filmen Dödsklockan)
1964 – Societetshuset (TV-serie)
1967 – Pukehornet (roman)
1970 – Menedarna (roman)
1972 – Mörker och blåbärsris (roman) (TV-pjäs 1980)
1974 – Häxringarna (roman, del 1 i tetralogin Kvinnorna och staden, tidigare kallad Vallmstasviten eller Katrineholmssviten)
1976 – Springkällan (roman, del 2 i tetralogin Kvinnorna och staden)
1977 – Vykort från Katrineholm (specialbok, julhälsning från Albert Bonniers Förlag, såldes ej i handeln)
1978 – Harry Martinson (Kerstin Ekmans inträdestal i Svenska Akademien)
1979 – Änglahuset (roman, del 3 i tetralogin Kvinnorna och staden)
1983 – En stad av ljus (roman, del 4 i tetralogin Kvinnorna och staden)
1986 – Mine Herrar… (essä)
1986 – Hunden (film 2003)
1988 – Rövarna i Skuleskogen (roman)
1990 – Knivkastarens kvinna (lyrisk berättelse)
1993 – Händelser vid vatten (roman)
1994 – Rätten att häda (essä)
1996 – Gör mig levande igen (roman)
1999 – Guds barmhärtighet (roman, del 1 i trilogin Vargskinnet)
2000 – Urminnes tecken (roman)
2002 – Sista rompan (roman, del 2 i trilogin Vargskinnet)
2003 – Skraplotter (roman, del 3 i trilogin Vargskinnet)
2007 – Herrarna i skogen (essäer)
2009 – Mordets praktik (roman)
2011 – Se blomman (essäer)
2011 – Grand final i skojarbranschen (roman)
2013 – Jorun orm i öga (operalibretto)
2015 – Då var allt levande och lustigt (om Clas Bjerkander, Linnélärjunge, präst och naturforskare i Västergötland)


1961 – Sherlock-priset för detektivromanen De tre små mästarna
1968 – Litteraturfrämjandets stipendiat
1972 – Tidningen Vi:s litteraturpris
1973 – Landsbygdens författarstipendium
1974 – BMF-plaketten för Häxringarna
1975 – Östersunds-Postens litteraturpris
1976 – Signe Ekblad-Eldhs pris
1977 – Litteraturfrämjandets stora romanpris
1980 – Mårbackapriset
1984 – Kellgrenpriset
1984 – Palmærpriset
1989 – Stiftelsen Selma Lagerlöfs litteraturpris
1989 – Aniarapriset
1989 – Litteraturfrämjandets stora pris
1991 – Övralidspriset
1992 – Sixten Heymans pris
1993 – Augustpriset för romanen Händelser vid vatten
1993 – BMF-plaketten för Händelser vid vatten
1993 – Moa-priset
1993 – Bästa svenska kriminalroman för romanen Händelser vid vatten
1993 – Årets författare (SKTF)
1994 – Nordiska rådets litteraturpris för romanen Händelser vid vatten
1995 – Pilotpriset
1996 – Frödingstipendiet
1997 – Eyvind Johnsonpriset
1997 – Hedenvind-plaketten
1998 – Litteris et Artibus
2000 – Ivar Lo-priset
2003 – Augustpriset för romanen Skraplotter
2008 – Gerard Bonniers essäpris
2011 – Stora läsarpriset
2012 – Ivar Lo-Johanssons personliga pris
2012 – Bureuspriset
2012 – “Guldluppen” av Svenska Botaniska Föreningen[3]

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