I’ve yet to read a book from the Millennium trilogy, and I don’t think I ever will (I’m more of a nonfiction reader). Maybe I’ll see the films that have inspired the books, including recent stateside arthouse hit The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. But you’d have to be living under a rock to not know that these books have become a global phenomenon. I knew that much, and I knew the name of the author: Stieg Larsson. And, I knew that he was dead (of a heart attack in 2004). What I didn’t know, until reading this fascinating Time magazine article, was that there’s a war underway between his life partner and his family. With next week’s release of the third installment in the Millennium trilogy, there’s a brighter spotlight on the legacy of Larsson’s work, and this report paints a bleak picture:
The first hint of trouble arrived in early 2005, in the form of a big brown envelope from the Swedish government. It informed [his companian Eva Gabrielsson] that Larsson’s entire estate, including half of their apartment and the rights to his books, had gone to Larsson’s father Erland and younger brother Joakim. She had inherited nothing.
The government’s position was simple. Larsson and Gabrielsson never married, and Sweden has no common-law marriage. Larsson had asked his publisher to help him draw up a will, but it was never executed. When Gabrielsson asked the Larssons for the rights to Stieg’s novels, they declined — although they did offer her a share in them. Gabrielsson refused to discuss it: it was all or nothing. Standoff.