Go to contents

‘The power of thrillers lies in two-way reading,’ says Jo Nesbo

‘The power of thrillers lies in two-way reading,’ says Jo Nesbo

Posted October. 25, 2019 07:44,   

Updated October. 25, 2019 07:44


This year’s Frankfurt Book Fair ended last Sunday. Jo Nesbo was one of the most attention-gathering figures from Norway, the 2019 guest of honor. With every step taken, he was always at the center of a crowd of his avid fans. The leading “Nordic thriller” writer held two rounds of meet-up with readers on Oct. 16 and 17 at the book fair in Frankfurt.

“Reading a U.S. psychologist’s book inspired me to come up with the title of my new book,” the Scandinavian writer said. “’The Knife’ tells that using a knife makes it harder to commit murder than firing a gun as you should come way closer to a target. My new book intends to deal with intimacy, which Harry lacks.”

Nesbo is famous as the writer of the “Harry Hole Series,” whose main character is the leader of the Crime Squad of the Oslo Police. Since his first novel “The Bet” in 1997, he has published a total of 12 books including the latest “The Knife.” Korean readers have access to the first through to the 10th novel, “The Police.” The 11th “The Thirst” and the 12th “The Knife” will be available in the Korean market by 2020 and 2021, respectively.

His fans’ comment that his novels are the master of tricks, even saying that geniuses with an IQ of 200 would never have greater reasoning than Nesbo. You are likely to be caught off guard the moment you feel convinced that you are unraveling clues in the right direction.

“It is a lot of fun to devise tricks and apply them to my novels. The power of thrillers lies in two-way reading,” he said. “The stories of my novels develop as if they were conversing or playing games with readers. They sometimes make the right guess of how my stories unfold.”

Nevertheless, Nesbo does not focus merely on weaving a story plot. Equally, he puts much effort into delving deeply into Harry and minor characters’ psychological qualities. In his novels, the writer embraces problematic figures warmly with a step back or takes a close and deep look at social issues. He thinks writers are supposed to ponder upon the realities and social issues, saying that he enjoys fulfilling his responsibilities as a writer. “Developing a political viewpoint can make writers qualified to speak up about society,” he added.

Oslo is the backdrop to his novel series and Nesbo’s hometown. As the peaceful city is stained with a chain of bloody crimes, Harry tracks down on suspects with grits. The novelist likens Oslo to his lost love, saying that he grew up in the city when he was young. He used to breathe with the city of Oslo while loving it so much. Now, he hopes to go back to stay there someday.

Seol Lee snow@donga.com