Perhaps you have seen (or, heaven forbid, read) one of those ubiquitous Stieg Larsson mystery novels, in which a brilliant feminist hacker, in concert with a brilliant left-wing journalist modelled on the author, skulk around Stockholm fighting fascists and solving murders. The books have been massive bestsellers in America and Europe, making Larsson perhaps the richest author in Scandinavia. Slight problem, though, is that Larsson, a chubby chain smoker, died a few years back and his only known will, written in the 1970s when he was a cash-poor revolutionary, bequeathed his entire estate to the Umeå chapter of Sweden's communist party. In other words, if you read Larsson you support communism!
Well, not exactly. A court found that the old will was not legally binding, and reverted control of the estimated $20 million ($10 million when the Swedes are done with it) estate to Larsson's father and brother. But Larsson had a longtime girlfriend, fellow political radical Eva Gabrielsson, who wants a piece of the action, resulting in a long, acrminous court trial. The Los Angeles Times has an entertaining round up of the case, including this terrific exchange that proves my long-standing theory that there is no problem, personal or political, for which a Scandinavian will not attempt to pin on American foreign policy. Here is Gabrielsson explaining how The New Jewel Movement intruded upon her love life and prevented the couple from getting married—and being the rightful heir to all that loot:
The woman who was at his side for 30 years inherited nothing. She and Larsson never married—a fact that has exacted an unforeseen price. Swedish law does not recognize common-law relationships, and she is not entitled to a penny of his estate.
Larsson couldn't have written a better cliffhanger.
They had certainly intended to tie the knot when they were younger, said Eva Gabrielsson, the love of Larsson's life. But two things conspired against them, she said.
"We did plan to get married, in 1983, except the United States did something bad then: You invaded Grenada," the longtime leftist said recently over coffee.
She and Larsson had visited the Caribbean island nation a few years before in support of its left-wing government. After the U.S. invasion led to the regime's overthrow, the couple decided to go back and investigate the situation, so marriage plans were put "on hold," said Gabrielsson, now 56.
Also worth reading: In the December issue of Vaniety Fair, Christopher Hitchens reviewed Larsson's heavy-handed, anti-capitalist "Millineum series."