The worst thing about falling in love with an author whose works were published posthumously is that there can be no breathless waiting for a new work. But the many fans of Swedish author Stieg Larsson – creator of the Millennium trilogy starring quirky heroine Lisbeth Salander – may yet be in for a surprise.
The National Library of Sweden announced this week that it has uncovered two unpublished works by Larsson in its archives. Both are science-fiction stories written when Larsson was just a boy of 17. He apparently sent them to the Jules Vernes magazine along with a letter describing himself as "a 17-year-old guy from Umea in the north of Sweden with dreams of becoming an author and journalist."
(The stories reportedly arrived at the library in 2007 as part of a donation of the archives of the Jules Vernes magazine. Presumably the magazine did not know that stories by the now-famed author were a part of its gift.)
There is no guarantee, however, that the public will ever see the stories. The library says it will be contacting Larsson's father and brother, who would be considered the "rights holders" to the works, as Larsson himself died in 2004 at the age of 50, before his books – "The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo," "The Girl Who Played With Fire," and "The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest," – became global sensations.
But the whole question of rights to Larsson's work is a tangled one. Because Larsson died without a will, his father and brother have inherited his estate – and not Eva Gabrielsson, who was his partner of 30-some years.
Gabrielsson, however, does possess something perhaps much more interesting than the two science-fiction stories and that is an incomplete manuscript of a fourth book in the Millennium series. (Larsson had originally envisioned a series of 10 books. This knowledge gives his fans a chance to obsess uselessly over any and all loose ends in the first three books. The main question, I would say, is: What about Salander's twin sister? Was there a role for her in at least one of those books?)
But even apart from questions of unfinished books, unpublished manuscripts, and their rights, there are other matters over which the English-language fans of Larsson can perhaps more usefully obsess. Namely, will there be English-language films of Larsson's books, and if so, who will play the role of Salander?
Marjorie Kehe is the Monitor's book editor.