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April 17th 2012 Lecture/Reading
Time 5:00 pm
Campus UM
Location 601 Herter Hall
Title Easy Money: Swedish criminal defense lawyer and novelist to speak on the Stockholm crime underworld
Acclaimed Swedish criminal defense lawyer and fiction writer Jens Lapidus will visit the UMass Amherst campus April 17, as part of the German and Scandinavian Studies Program's series Vengeance and Violence in Scandinavian Life and Culture, funded by a grant from the Nordic Council.

Lapidus, who represents some of Sweden's most notorious criminals in court, has been a shooting star on the publishing scene with his recently completed Stockholm Noir trilogy, offering a dark and brutal account of Stockholm's underbelly, where Hells Angels, Banditos, different ethnic and mafia gangs vie for space and control over drugs, weapons, and money. The first novel in the trilogy, Easy Money, will be released in English translation on April 4.

Lapidus diverges from the Scandinavian crime fiction tradition by focusing not on the police procedural, but on the criminals themselves, through whose eyes the narrative's events unfold. Critics have raved over his uncompromising attitude toward his material. “It is an entirely new criminal world, beautifully rendered--and a wildly thrilling novel,” writes American crime fiction writer James Ellroy.

In Sweden, the trilogy has become so popular that Lapidus has become favorite reading among the clientele he describes. In a recent interview with the Associated Press, Lapidus told that one police officer reported that his books, together with
posters of Al Pacino in Scarface, are the two things always found during raids against suburban gang members. His books are the most often borrowed in prison libraries, and clients sometimes request him as a lawyer after reading Easy Money.

Lapidus noted in the AP interview that the image of Stockholm as an idyllic and peaceful place “maybe emerged in the 1960s and 70s,” and is probably accurate “relatively speaking,” but “I don't think that image has been true for a very very long time. It's an old cliché.” The problems that exist in both American and European big cities, he explained, “exist here too.”

Easy Money was adapted to a successful Swedish film, and Hollywood rights have been sold to Warner Brothers. Translation problems delayed its issue in English by at least two years, Lapidus told the Associated Press. The hard-boiled language, street slang, and accents of various immigrant groups didn't work in a first attempt, and the publisher had to hire another translator.

Lapidus will be speaking and doing a book signing at 5:00 p.m. on April 17 in Herter Hall 601 on the UMass campus. “I am excited to visit Amherst and the University of Massachusetts,” he writes. “I will speak broadly about Scandinavian crime literature in general and my books and the connection to the authentic underworld of Sweden.”

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