Mind Matters — An Interview with Eva Gabrielsson

Re-investing in life for Eva Gabrielsson may be part of her journey through grief after the death of her life partner Stieg Larsson. As readers may recall, Stieg Larsson is the Swedish author of the Millennium Trilogy, whose books are known in this country as the Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, The Girl Who Played With Fire, and The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest.

To set the record straight about who Stieg Larsson was and to stand again in her own life and with her own voice, Eva Gabrielsson has written a memoir “There Are Things I Want You To Know” About Stieg Larsson and Me. Presently, Gabrielsson is on tour in the U.S. Prior to her arrival in Philadelphia, I spoke with her by phone.

Gabrielsson and Larsson both lived a life of activism to defend social causes, and she is quick to point out that the trilogy was not written as escapist crime fiction. She notes in her book how “every violent act in The Millennium Trilogy was inspired by real murders described in police reports.” Larsson’s message, as is Gabrielsson’s, is the empowerment of women against a patriarchy which is hateful of them.

And the patriarchy is not bound by any particular culture or nationality or “race” or religion: Larsson, says Gabrielsson, decried how certain crimes against women were differentiated as “cultural” or “ordinary.” Larsson’s point was that whether a young woman is murdered by her boyfriend or in a so-called “honor” killing by her father, both women are victims of patriarchal oppression. Furthermore, domestic violence knows no social, cultural, or economic boundary. Or, as the Swedish title of Larsson’s first book bluntly states: it is about Men Who Hate Women.

Gabrielsson reminds us of this first book’s title and how the English translations, entitled “Girl” with the Dragon Tattoo co-opts and minimizes the strong message that the Millennium Trilogy portrays. She also notes that critics and politicians and the culture shun the feminist message and just see the books to be about an investigative journalist fighting neo-Nazis. What is lost with these critics is that part and parcel of the Nazi belief system is the denigration of women. Nevertheless, she believes that the Millennium Trilogy has empowered many women. She relates how one teenager approached her with her personal story of how the books saved her life, by giving her the courage to fight back.

According to Gabrielsson, Larsson always fought for women and was collaborative with them. So it would seem that Larsson, the quintessential male feminist, would want Eva Gabrielsson to find her own voice and shine in her own light, never to be forgotten for her own work in creating a just society where women are no longer hated by men.

Eva Gabrielsson appears tonight (Thursday, May 31, 2012) in Philadelphia, at the Free Library, 1901 Vine Street, 7:30 pm. (See freelibrary.org/authorevents.)