Jo Nesbø scores again, on screen

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Norwegian author Jo Nesbø had already been having a fabulous year, judging from the latest international success of his crime novel Snømannen (The Snowman), rave reviews for his latest crime novel in Norwegian Gjenferd (Ghost) and the new worldwide popularity of his children’s books about Doktor Proktor. Then came the film version of his book Hodejegerne (The Headhunters).

Author Jo Nesbø has been on a roll all year, and the ride continues. PHOTO: Stian Andersen/jonesbo.com

After just its first weekend in Norwegian cinemas the film was setting records for ticket sales, not least in Oslo. The only film that has ever done better was the wildly popular Max Manus about the World War II resistance hero.

Curiously, the same Norwegian actor has starred in both films, Aksel Hennie. By the film’s second weekend, roughly a quarter-million Norwegians had bought tickets to see “The Headhunters,” directed by Morten Tyldum. Even before it premiered at home in Norway, the action-thriller was ranking as the most-sold Norwegian film to the foreign market. In Europe, only Belarus had refrained from distributing it, according to producer Asle Vatn.

The film’s Swedish co-producer, Marianne Gray, told newspaper Aftenposten that not only has the film  benefited from the success of the Millennium films based on Stieg Larsson’s books, but Jo Nesbø is internationally well-known as well. Now director Tyldum is heading for Hollywood, where the film has been well-received. He’s expected to make an action film or thriller there after making the rounds of film festivals, such as Toronto earlier this month, where seats for “The Headhunters” sold out in a reported two minutes.

Nesbø himself, meanwhile, has now sold around 12 million books in Norway and the rest of the world. Among Scandinavian authors, only the late Larsson has sold more. Last week he was enjoying unexpected success at a book fair in Moscow, where his translated hard-core crime novels have won even more new fans.

Nesbø’s latest book, Gjenferd (Ghost), debuted in Norway just before summer and demand was so high that venerable publisher Aschehoug printed 200,000 after just the first week, the most ever for a new book in the publishing company’s history. The book’s NOK 399 price tag (USD 72) didn’t scare off customers.

Nesbø donated revenues from “The Headhunters” to the Harry Hole Foundation (named after the lead character in most of his other crime novels), which works to help children in developing countries learn to read and write. He arguably didn’t need the money himself: After writing 10 successful novels, plus the three Doktor Proktor children’s books, plus writing songs and performing in the popular band Di Derre and earlier working as an economist and finance analyst, Nesbø was worth an estimated NOK 50 million according to his most recently available tax return.

Views and News from Norway/Nina Berglund
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