Maj Sjöwall (SE)

Author, screenwriter, journalist and translator. Born in September 25, 1935 in Stockholm, died in April 29, 2020 in Landskrona.

Maj Sjöwall was a Swedish author, screenwriter, journalist and translator. Between the years 1965-1975 she co-wrote, together with her partner in life Per Wahlöö (1926-1975), ten crime novels centred on a character named Martin Beck. The novels have been published in over 40 languages ​​and have also been filmed a number of times over the years, for the big screen as well as television.

The author’s name of choice for the book series was “The Story of a Crime”. In My Lindberg’s documentary Sjöwall Wahlöö – berättelsen om ett brott (”Sjöwall Wahlöö – the story of a crime”, 2016), Maj Sjöwall explains the choice: “From our point of view the social democracy that had worked so well in Sweden was degenerating. The values of the Swedish welfare state, built up during our youth, were now slowly but surely disintegrating – which simply made us really mad and pissed off. We regarded it an act of a crime, so we have as a subheading for the books: The Story of a Crime.”

The first book in the series, “Roseanna”, was both praised and criticized. It introduced, for the genre at the time, a completely idiosyncratic language use – concise and journalistic, detailed and personal. The novels would later achieve enormous international success, and they came to inspire most of the subsequent writers of detective stories to employ a more social realist tone. The books have been described as revolutionary within the genre via their almost documentary descriptions of both the crimes themselves as well as the actual police work, and how society looked – and would change – during the ten-year span of the series. With their stories of Martin Beck, Lennart Kollberg and Gunvald Larsson, Maj Sjöwall and Per Wahlöö invented a new and highly influential style of crime writing, where entertainment is combined with a sharp and critical eye on society, with ample space provided in order to portray and document the everyday life and work of the police service workers.


Basic info

Main professions: Author, Screenwriter
Born: 1935
Died: 2020
Active: -


Filmatiseringar av Sjöwall/Wahlöös böcker:
Stockholm Marathon (Terroristerna, 1994)
Polismördaren: Historien om ett brott (1994)
Mannen på balkongen (1993)
Polis polis potatismos (1993)
Roseanna (1993)
Brandbilen som försvann (1993)
Beck – De gesloten kamer (Det slutna rummet, 1993)
Der Mann, der sich in Luft auflöste (Mannen som gick upp i rök, 1980)
Nezakonchennyy uzhin (Polis, polis, potatismos!, 1980)
Mannen på taket (Den vedervärdige mannen från Säffle, 1976)
The Laughing Policeman (Den skrattande polisen, 1973)
Roseanna (1967)

Dessutom 38 stycken filmer med originalmanus baserade på karaktären Martin Beck, spelad av Peter Haber (inspelade mellan 1997-2018). Fyra ytterligare filmer i serien är planerade att spelas in 2020.

Polismördaren: Historien om ett brott (1994)
Mördaren – en helt vanlig person (1967)

Polis polis potatismos (1994)

Sjöwall Wahlöö – berättelsen om ett brott (2016)
Polismördaren: Historien om ett brott (1994)
Stockholm Marathon (1994)
Mannen på balkongen (1993)

Read more about the films at Svensk Filmdatabas (SE)

Published works

Terroristerna (Roman, 1975)
Polismördaren (Roman, 1974)
Det slutna rummet (Roman, 1972)
Den vedervärdige mannen från Säffle (Roman, 1971)
Polis, polis, potatismos! (Roman, 1970)
Brandbilen som försvann (Roman, 1969)
Den skrattande polisen (Roman, 1968)
Mannen på balkongen (Roman, 1967)
Mannen som gick upp i rök (Roman, 1966)
Roseanna (Roman, 1965)

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