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The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo is back. In a continuation of the best-selling Swedish Millennium crime series, the punk hacker Lisbeth Salander returns in a new novel. The book is written by the Swedish writer David Lagercrantz picking up the series from Stieg Larsson, who died in 2004. It begins with muckraking journalist Mikael Blomkvist receiving an urgent call from a famous developer of artificial intelligence. When the reporter goes to his house, he finds the professor shot to death. Blomkvist enlists Salander to use her computer hacking skills to help find the killers. Lagercrantz takes us behind the scenes of his new novel.
From the book THE GIRL IN THE SPIDER’S WEB by David Lagercrantz. Copyright © David Lagercrantz. Published by arrangement with Alfred A. Knopf, an imprint of The Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group, a division of Penguin Random House LLC.
MS. DIANE REHMThanks for joining us. I'm Diane Rehm. Fans of Stieg Larsson's crime thrillers made famous by "The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo" do not seem to care that the latest book is not by Larsson. The new novel sold more than 200,000 in its first week of publication. It's titled "The Girl In The Spider's Web." Author David Lagercrantz and Sonny Mehta, chairman and editor in chief of Knopf Publishers join me in the studio.
MS. DIANE REHMI'm sure many of you will have questions, comments. Join us on 800-433-8850. Send us an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow us on Facebook or send us a tweet. David and Sonny, it's good to have you here.
MR. SONNY MEHTADelighted to be here.
MR. DAVID LAGERCRANTZIt's a pleasure, for God's sake. It's a pleasure.
REHMI'm so glad. Well, and truth in broadcasting, I must say right up front that Knopf is my own publisher so Sonny Mehta, I'm truly delighted to have you here.
LAGERCRANTZSo you will be very kind then.
REHMI'm not so sure about that.
MEHTAI did want to say how much we're looking forward to publishing your book in February and "On My Own" is a wonderful title for really an absolutely wonderful and important book.
REHMThank you so much. David.
REHMThis had to have been an intimidating job for you to take on.
LAGERCRANTZWell, yeah, yeah. I've been absolutely terrified. You know, now when I hear, you know, I'm getting emails from the fans and good critics and the saves, you know, I started to feel a bit relieved. But I've been terrified. You know, I'm having nightmares. I mean, to have...
REHMI can understand that.
LAGERCRANTZYeah, I mean, I even have nightmares of Lisbeth Salander, you know, coming after me and said, I don't -- David, you don't do me justice. I'm tougher than that. Oh, gosh. But, you know, being terrified is sometimes a good thing. It's just as your reporters. You work harder.
REHMWell, tell me how you got interested in taking this on.
LAGERCRANTZWell, it's kind of a long story, but to make very short, I changed literary agent and I had this theory that I'm best when I collude myself with different words, when I write by myself. Maybe I use writing a bit as therapy. You know, my male heroes get too much depressive and complaining and I have this free -- I'm better when I go into different words. You know, I've written about Alan Turing, the mathematician and Zlatan Ibrahimovic and then I saw my agent's, you know, face change.
LAGERCRANTZAnd they were starting to read my books and ask the family and ask the publishing house and one day in August 2013, they actually asked me write a fourth novel in the millennium series.
REHMAnd Sonny Mehta, why did David seem to be the appropriate writer to take on Stieg Larsson's legacy?
MEHTAWell, I don't know sort of the ins and outs of the process of selection that went on between the estate and I don't know which other writers they considered. But, to me, this is an absolute natural, in so many ways. And I read the Zlatan autobiography that David worked on and I was extremely impressed at how it captured the voice of an athlete, I suppose, a football and a very famous one at that. And then, I was lucky enough to reach an early translation of the novel that David had written about Alan Turing, the "Fall of Man In Winslow," I think, which we're publishing in about eight month's time.
MEHTAAnd what he did over there was really quite extraordinary. He managed, in that novel, to sort of create -- recreate an English town in the immediate post-war years. He managed to create a detective story about a very well-known -- a detective story about a scientist who dies in mysterious circumstances and a young detective who starts to pursue it until he is basically warned off. So he created -- and everyone knows about Turing, but somehow there was a freshness to David's sort of novel about Alan Turing, which really I thought was quite remarkable.
MEHTASo when I heard that he was doing this book, he seemed an absolute natural.
REHMBut you, David, were a crime journalist...
LAGERCRANTZOh, well, that was long ago. Yes, yes.
REHM...even before -- yeah, before. But how much did you know about Stieg Larsson before you took on this task?
LAGERCRANTZI mean, I've read the book, of course. I mean, everybody did, you know, and I immediately sort of fell in love with Lisbeth Salander, you know.
REHMYes, I think everyone does, yeah.
LAGERCRANTZIf I look back to -- yeah, I mean, she's absolutely one of the most iconic, you know, figure in pop culture. But when I looked back to my authorship, I've been writing about this kind of brilliant, odd, a bit antisocial figures just like Alan Turing that society has tried to crush, I have felt immediately, even before I had got that assignment, she's my kind of girl.
REHMBut Stieg Larsson, himself, was also one of those outsiders.
LAGERCRANTZYeah, of course.
REHMWho took on the establishment.
LAGERCRANTZI mean, he was such a hero. And the sad thing is that when he was alive, I didn't even know that he existed because back then, he had his little paper expo and the racists back then in Sweden, they were quite a small group of lunatics. But I think he actually saw what was coming and I think many people even didn't know that he existed even in the media business because he was living under threat, you know. The Nazis were coming after him so he wrote under a pseudonym.
LAGERCRANTZSo and that was so and that was maybe the reason that the first publishing house he want to, they didn't even read his books. I mean, that's sort of a classical mistake, isn't it? It's sort of, you know, when the Decca turned down the Beatles or something. But now he's a legend and I'm so happy that -- I mean, of course, I'm happy that people are reading my books, but they also -- a new generation of reader finding his book and also finding his real legacy, which was fighting intolerance and racists and trying to make Sweden a more welcoming country, which is now, of course, more important questions than ever.
REHMWhy do you think people love Lisbeth Salander as much as they do?
LAGERCRANTZWell, if you go back, you know, 100 years, we had the princess in the castle screaming, where is the prince, you know, coming with the white horse and rescue me. Yes. But Lisbeth, it's so far you can come from this. She's this brilliant girl, you know, who grew up with these evil, evil father, raping and abusing, you know, her mother. And she understood, in one way or another, that she had, you know, to fight herself, to have to revenge herself.
LAGERCRANTZAnd after that, the society tried to crush her, but she refused to be a victim. Instead of getting weaker, she gets stronger and stronger. And then, we have the hacking thing, which I think is brilliant and it's getting more and more important. I mean, she's a fighter and she's a thinker and that's a lovely combination. And she's not a traditional female, you know, heroine.
LAGERCRANTZNot at all. Not a caring, mothering type. She's tough. I mean, she's something new. I think she'd really change crime fiction.
REHMTell me, Sonny Mehta, your own impressions of Lisbeth Salander.
MEHTAWell, I think she's fearless. I think she's fearless. I agree with David that there isn't an ounce of self pity in her and she is -- she refuses to see herself as the victim or roughly react as victim. I mean, she's -- but I do think it's fearlessness that is her distinguishing characteristic.
REHMShe has trained herself in such a way to withstand not only the attempts to crush her, but indeed the wounds that do almost have her really in a near death situation, but she manages. What we're talking about is the successor to the Stieg Larsson and his brand new book, "The Girl In The Spider's Web," a Lisbeth Salander novel.
REHMAnd we are going to take your calls. I'm sure many of you have read these books. Give us a call, 800-433-8850. Short break. We'll be right back.
REHMAnd welcome back. Two guests are here in the studio with me today. David Lagercrantz, he has written "The Girl In The Spider's Web." It is a Lisbeth Salander novel. As you recall, Stieg Larsson created three novels with Lisbeth Salander at their centers. And then, sadly, he died, presumably of a heart attack, after he had finished the third novel. And in comes David Lagercrantz to take over and continue the series with "The Girl In The Spider's Web." The book is published by Knopf. And the chairman and editor-in-chief of Knopf publishers is also here in the studio with me. He is Sonny Mehta.
REHMAnd if you'd like to join us, 800-433-8850. Send us your email to email@example.com. Here's a question posted on our website for you, David.
REHMHe wants to know whether you read the original three Larsson books in Swedish and in English and, if so, what did you think of those translations? Additionally, have you read the English translation of your book and what does he think of that translation?
LAGERCRANTZOh, that was quite a many question. No, I first read the book, of course, in Sweden. And I didn't read them -- the English translation of the first three book because, you know, I didn't have to. I love to read English. But when you have it, you know, written in Swedish -- so I read them. But, of course -- sorry, my -- you know, I'm stamping my feet. I will not do it anymore, I promise you. I'm a bit...
REHMI was wondering about that.
LAGERCRANTZNo, no. I'm a bit neurotic. I will calm down.
LAGERCRANTZNo, so yeah. I was a bit nervous because, you know, we have this thing with Sonny Mehta and the editors. So I was wondering, what have they done to my book? So even though, you know, you feel a bit guilty when you ready your own book, you know, I sort of rushed through it. And I think they did a wonderful job, actually. They put some small parts, you know, I'm this -- a little bit of a geek in science, you know? I love to put science in a book to try to educate the readers. And they put some of that away. But maybe that was good, you know? It should be a page-turner. So, no, it's a good translation and it's good edited. So...
LAGERCRANTZSo all the privilege to -- yeah, himself.
REHMWhere did you find, Sonny, the right translator for David's book?
MEHTAWell, it's -- we were very lucky. We worked very closely with a British publisher, the Markle (sp?) House Press. And they'd been working with a translator, a Mr. Goldring (sp?) and he -- they commissioned him to translate David's earlier novel, the one that we are publishing in a few months. He did a wonderful job, as I said. And so he seemed a natural for "The Girl In The Spider's Web."
REHMNow, I also want to ask you, before we open the phones, about the familial concerns.
LAGERCRANTZYes, of course.
REHMI understand that the woman with Stieg Larsson lived for some 25 years and a woman, I must tell you, I interviewed...
REHM...here at the Swedish Embassy. She was very much against having this series continued. However, Stieg Larsson's father and brother, I gather, were in favor of moving forward. I have this correct?
LAGERCRANTZYes. Yes. Absolutely. Absolutely. And, you know, this has been sort of the thrill of my life, you know? I felt an immediate passion for it, the fever to work on this book. And, you know, I never worked harder, I never felt more privileged to inherit this iconic character. The only thing that really troubles me, shadows all of the project, was that I know -- and I now know that she is very angry. And it makes me sad. And I'm daydreaming that they will reach a settlement between the rights. And I know that she has said, let his books rest in peace. And I deeply respect that. But as a writer, I don't meet that many writers who want their book to rest in peace. We writers want to be read and discussed.
LAGERCRANTZAnd the beautiful thing in -- I think, anyway -- is now that his books are finding new readers in a new generation, people who even didn't know who he was. We know that now from pre-orders. And we're also, again, discussing his real life work, which was fighting racists and intolerance. So I think it's great for Stieg Larsson's authorship. He is even more than a legend. Lisbeth is even more than an iconic figure. And as you may know, the family will give away all their money, all their income for the book, to the paper Expo that Stieg Larsson founded, which is fighting racists and intolerance and extreme right. That's the beautiful...
REHMI did not know that. I'm glad to hear that.
LAGERCRANTZThat's a beautiful thing. And, you know, I have the deepest respect for her and I can understand that she is angry. I'm so sad for her. But one of the beautiful -- most beautiful thing that happened to me in my life, you know, except for my family, it was when I wrote this book about Ibrahimovic, the soccer player. A generation that had never been near bookstores or library, they suddenly started to read. So I will give away some of my money to a great institution in Sweden called the Reading Movements, because that's what I so clearly thing, if you start to read good books, you will not end up being a racist or a fundamentalist. So I hope it will turn out a good thing for, I mean, for Stieg Larsson's authorship and for his life work.
REHMOne post-script there, the woman with whom he lived told me, personally, that Stieg Larsson had no relationship with his father or brother -- that they had been totally separate for at least 20 years. But because of Swedish inheritance laws, she -- his partner for 25 years -- could not receive the monies that came from his books.
LAGERCRANTZIt's so sad. But I don't think that is really true. Because knowing -- know Joakim Larsson very well and I know that they have had contact. So I don't think that's true. But, again, I have the deepest respect for her. And it's so sad. That's the only thing that really troubles me.
LAGERCRANTZBut, you know, my mother -- she's a widow of a writer -- and every time, you know, they pick up my father's book, she get's happy. So I hope -- I mean, I can understand her anger. I hope that she will understand that he's now even more a legend.
REHMTwo hundred thousand copies sold in the first week, Sonny Mehta.
MEHTAA little over that, I believe. But, yes, it's a very good start and a tribute, as David said, to Lisbeth Salander, to Stieg Larsson, to the fact that so many people have been waiting to -- for -- to learn more about Lisbeth Salander and Blomkvist.
LAGERCRANTZI never actually had so much love coming in, you know, in emails from readers that she is back.
LAGERCRANTZI mean, she's sort of belongs to us all. I mean, think of, you know, the (word?) relatives said, you know, never touch (unintelligible) . And wouldn't that be a bit sad?
REHMBut, now, tell me then why you chose to introduce Lisbeth Salander early-on in the novel, briefly.
REHMAnd then she doesn't appear until almost a third, a half way through the book.
LAGERCRANTZWell, there's two answers. First, I answer, you know, the thing I used to do with journalists, it's part of my master plot. You know? I plan to building up, you know, the rumors about her. And maybe that's part true. But another reason is that I was scared to death about her, you know? Because I understand, if I did not do her justice, you know, so maybe I, you know, started with Blomkvist because he was easier to identify with.
REHMThe reporter, yeah.
LAGERCRANTZI think the true -- if -- I was scared about -- I mean, no, she was the hard thing, you know?
LAGERCRANTZAnd I worked so hard and I, you know, as I told you, I had nightmares about him and I wrote him over and over -- her over and over. Yeah. But, well...
REHMI bet that...
LAGERCRANTZI think it's good that you have to wait for a bit.
REHMYou have to wait for her.
LAGERCRANTZAnd then she turned up and I think she -- she does well. I hope so.
REHMShe does extraordinarily well. All right. Let's open the phones, hear what listeners have to say. First, to Chrissie in Jacksonville, Fla. You're on the air.
CHRISSIEWonderful to hear your show. I'm 27 and I'm a college student. And I'm actually standing outside of my classroom waiting to talk to you.
CHRISSIEI just wanted to say that I was fearful to read those -- the first three books by Stieg Larsson because I have kind of a weak stomach for women's violence. But my cousin talked me into reading them. She's like, for someone who reads so much, you'll love these books. Read them. So I did. And I did, I loved them. It was so great to have a female character who didn't need help. She refused to be a victim. And if she wanted help, she chose who would help her. And it was just -- it was very empowering.
CHRISSIEAnd I know, when I found out that Stieg Larsson had passed away so there wouldn't be anymore Lisbeth Salander, I was very upset. And a bunch of my coworkers have also read the book -- we shared the same copy, like, through everybody, so they're very worn out. But we found out that you were writing another book and we were just so excited. And of course we discussed all the, you know, 100 questions we had about Lisbeth Salander's life, for instance, like, her twin sister. So we're really hoping that that's in the book because...
REHMAll right. And, indeed, she is in the book. You bring up her evil twin sister.
REHMTalk about her as a character.
LAGERCRANTZWell, you shouldn't give away too much because she is part of the twist of the book. But when you bring her up, you know, I read Stieg Larsson's books so thorough. And what I understand was, that what I inherit was not only this brilliant character, I also inherit the mythology of Lisbeth Salander. You know, all great super hero has a mythology. I mean Batman had his parents killed, you know, and had to take revenge in Gotham City. Superman was sent to Earth as a Christ figure or something. And Lisbeth Salander has her background with an evil father and a sister, that is mentioned just shortly in the first three books.
LAGERCRANTZAnd I knew two things: that she was beautiful and she was manipulative, you know, and probably evil. And we also know that Lisbeth Salander says that there is some kind of genetical disorder in her family. You know, every character in Lisbeth Salander's family are extreme. You remember maybe the brother who didn't, you know, was sort of a murdering machine who didn't feel pain. So if she turns up in the book -- and I think she will -- she will not be good.
REHMShe won't be a kind, soothing, loving...
LAGERCRANTZNo, she will not.
LAGERCRANTZShe will be pure evilness, I think.
REHMBut the extraordinary part of that relationship is that they are twins.
REHMAnd they look nothing alike.
REHMAnd apparently, the father favors this evil young woman.
REHMShe kind of picks up on his characteristics, whereas Lisbeth goes in a very different direction.
LAGERCRANTZYeah, they chose different ways. He...
REHMAnd you're listening to "The Diane Rehm Show." Let's go now to Sam in Pittsburgh, Pa. You're on the air.
SAMLike everybody else, I'm pretty excited to read this new installment. And I wanted -- I have a couple of comments and I have a couple -- a question for you (word?)
SAMOne is, I'm a -- first of all, I'm a Scandinavian novel junkie. I have read hundreds. Okay? And nothing comes close to the Stieg Larsson series. Henning Mankell comes close, with "The Man -- in scope -- in just the sweep and the scope of the story, like "The Man from Beijing." But I also read a lot of U.K. novels. And none of them have the sort of the feeling that is shared among a lot of Scandinavian crime novelists, that they convey a kind of feeling where the characters don't have the huge egos that you find in American crime novels.
SAMAnd it's all -- you can say it's true of the U.K. stuff, too. But most of the Scandinavian stuff, the novels seem to be driven by another force and I can't put my finger on it. There's only one of two authors in America that sort of convey the same kind of feeling, you know, that...
REHMWhat do you think about that? That they...
LAGERCRANTZI think that was...
REHMWhat is it that drives Scandinavian novels and makes them different?
LAGERCRANTZI think -- I mean, when we started with crime fiction, they were entertainment, you know? They were -- we should -- you sort of eat them like -- read them like a cake. But what we had, quite early on -- go back to (word?) Valland (sp?) , then certainly Stieg Larsson, we have this moral pathos in the book. Of course, they wanted to entertain us, but they also wanted to say something about our society. And I think, when we read a good crime novel, we want to be entertained but we also want you to understand and feel, you know, the unjustice in the society.
LAGERCRANTZAnd I think part of the success of the Stieg Larsson's book is this moral pathos that you feel. He's angry. You know, he fights for suppressed women. He fights for intolerance. And I think that's very important. And when crime fiction is at its best, it shows the wounds in the society. It's sort of this...
REHMIt reflects the society as it is. He really was punching at that society...
REHM...and its reality through his fiction.
REHMAnd you take on the NSA.
REHMYou take on some other, you know, agencies and it really becomes that kind of spider's web that is in the title. Short break here. We've got lots of callers waiting. We'll get to as many as we can after a short break. Stay with us.
REHMAnd welcome back. David Lagercrantz is here in the studio. He is the author of "The Girl in the Spider's Web." It is a Lisbeth Salander novel. You recall that Stieg Larsson created the first three novels using Salander, a really brilliant hacker, in his novels. And David Lagercrantz has picked up the mantel and is moving forward. In the first week, more than 200,000 copies of this book were sold. Also here in the studio, the editor-in-chief of Knopf books, and that of course is Sonny Mehta.
REHMHere's a tweet from Anna, who says, I thought Stieg Larsson, had left an unfinished manuscript. Is the new book based on this manuscript? I think that his lover of 25 years owns what she says is an unfinished manuscript. Isn't that correct, David?
LAGERCRANTZYes, yeah, well, I haven't seen it, and nobody in our publishing house has seen it.
REHMNo one has seen it.
LAGERCRANTZSo I don't know anything, and even though I think it would probably would be brilliant, it would be hard for me to just finish it. I felt it was the best thing that I started all over. And I also think that he was a very contemporary writer, dealing with the problems of our time, of his time. So even though Lisbeth Salander certainly still is young, and Mikael is sort of still middle-aged, the good old guy that we know, I put them in the present because I couldn't resist it.
LAGERCRANTZSo I think even if I had this script, I think it would be hard to me to continue with the style and prose and so on.
REHMI totally understand, and considering what's happening in our world in terms of hacking today, and you've got the NSA here with Lisbeth.
LAGERCRANTZThat is interesting. I think Stieg Larsson was amazing in so many ways. He saw what was coming. Back in his, you know, back in his days, the worst hacking attack was done by outlaws by Lisbeth Salander. Now the worst hacking attack is done by states and intelligence like NSA. So I sort of felt immediately that we live in a world when we need Lisbeth Salander more than ever.
REHMThat's a great line.
REHMI like it. Is there interest from a movie creator?
LAGERCRANTZI think the interest now is absolutely crazy all over the world. You know, the book is publishing all over the world, so there's negotiating of everything. So yes, there is interest, and I hope it will be a great movie, but we will see about that.
REHMGood, good, all right, and...
LAGERCRANTZAnd if you have some -- yeah.
REHMLet's go to Syracuse, New York. Nancy, you're on the air.
NANCYGood morning, Diane.
NANCYI think you started asking some questions that I was very interested in. I knew after reading the trilogy that there was one character who was not referred to very much, and that was Lisbeth's sister, the beautiful Camilla, and so I hadn't read this book yet, and I was wondering if she was going to be introduced. But I was also interested if there was some clue that David could use to work her character. But I understand he did not talk to Stieg Larsson's partner, and she might have been the person who knew what Mr. Larsson had intended for that character.
LAGERCRANTZWell, I answered that kind of question, and I sort of guessed where he was Camilla. He said she was manipulative, beautiful, and he took her father, her evil father's side. So I sort of guessed. But important for me was also, you know, in the beginning, when I was writing, I had a Stieg Larsson demon over me, asking myself what would Stieg Larsson have done. And that was maybe good in one way, but if you want to write a good thriller, you can't be scared. (laugh)
LAGERCRANTZSo after a while, even though he was the genius who created these characters, they started to feel like mine, and then I got a bit wild, even with Camilla, actually. You will find out.
REHMBut, you know, we haven't talked about Mikael very much yet.
LAGERCRANTZSo let's talk about him.
REHMAt the beginning of the book, he is pretty much seen as washed up.
REHMHe doesn't feel that way, but he is depressed, his newspaper is about to go bankrupt, and he has not had a good reporting story for quite a while. So how does he get involved in this one?
LAGERCRANTZFirst of all, I thought, I mean, we have -- the media is bleeding, I mean, all over, especially in Sweden. So I thought of what will happen to a paper like Millennium, who works on, you know, good old journalism, you know, investigative journalism. I would -- probably they will have very hard times. So I think it was a good start to start with him. Society looks at him as a bit of a dinosaur. He's the one who needs relaunch.
LAGERCRANTZSo I couldn't resist it. But I think also that it says something about, you know, the world we're living in. The media gets quicker and quicker and quicker. We have to fight it out. And so I think a reporter like Mikael Blomkvist, who is slow in the best way, dig deep, we need that kind of journalist more than ever.
REHMAnd we said you said that you wanted to bring this into the current age.
REHMSo Mikael gets a call from a professor involved in artificial intelligence.
LAGERCRANTZYes, yes. And I've always been interested -- I wrote about -- the book about Alan Turing as sort of invented the concept. So that's, you know, that's one of -- I mean, it could be one of the most dangerous questions of our time. If we invent a computer that is smarter than ourselves, what will happen then? Then this computer also will be able to invent something that is smarter than itself, and suddenly we will be not more interesting than lab rats to the latest computer. And that's a big scary, isn't it?
REHMIt's very scary.
LAGERCRANTZIt's a very scary thing, and there's a lot of, I mean, leading scientists dealing with it. I mean, even Stephen Hawking, I mean, the great legend, is really scared that we will have a time at the end of humankind when the machine takes over. So I couldn't resist to have that in the book. You know, I am a bit of a science nerd. So I had, you know, things like that.
REHMYou had to put this in.
LAGERCRANTZYes, yes, yes.
REHMBut recall at the end of the movie, "2001," where the computer refuses to turn itself off.
LAGERCRANTZYes, yes, oh, yes, you mean yes, yes, yes, yes.
REHMAnd that's precisely what the fear becomes.
REHMThat that computer becomes more intelligent than the human mind itself.
LAGERCRANTZYeah, and then we will have an absolutely explosion of intelligence, yes.
REHMDo you believe that that's possible?
LAGERCRANTZI think it's possible because every eight months the computer gets double -- is getting...
LAGERCRANTZYeah, had a double capacity, and it's the same thing if you put rice on a chessboard. You know, it doubles faster and faster and faster. So we don't know. I think the future will change faster than we even can imagine. I mean, go back 10 years and see what we had in our phones, and if we go, you know, 10 years or 20 years, we will see how -- yeah, I think it's a bit scary.
REHMSonny Mehta, talk about the publishing world today. It would seem that many more publishers are going directly to online publishing. What do you believe about the nature of books themselves?
MEHTAWell, I am -- well, firstly I think, you know, we have gone through a process of almost extraordinary change in our business, and it's been continuous change, and clearly the development of traditional reading has been a big part of the most recent wave. And it's -- I'm glad to -- along with lots of others, I'm delighted about that because it's the introduction of another format.
MEHTAWe have hardcovers, we have paperbacks, and now we have ebooks, and I like to think of it as another way of reaching potential readers, as opposed to sort of an additional way of reaching potential readers, and offering them an alternative way to read.
REHMDo you ever see a time when a hardcover book will simply disappear?
MEHTAWell, I don't, at least I don’t anticipate it happening while I'm still around because I think some people, you know, like the way a book looks, how -- the way a book feels and what the experience of reading is in the physical form. I think a lot of people want it as a permanent thing. I think one of the wonderful things that's happened over the last years as the course of -- as a result, perhaps, of this is that the level of production values that were being taken out of physical publishing are being gradually reintroduced.
MEHTAI think there's been more attention being paid to book design, to cover design, to the quality of paper, to the look of a book, to sort of -- perhaps as a result of sort of the type of panic that we may have gone through.
REHMThat makes me very happy to hear you say that. I must say, because I wanted to read this very quickly, "The Girl in the Spider's Web," I downloaded it to my iPad immediately. You know, it's a funny thing, but reading at night on an iPad tends to keep me awake.
MEHTAOh, so you haven't slept, poor you, yeah. (laugh)
REHMSo -- but when I'm holding a book and reading it, it's absolutely wonderful. So everybody is different, and that was just my experience. But it did not take away from my pleasure in enjoying this book. But all of these urgent developments and changes in artificial intelligence become what the NSA and these various groups are trying to get their hands on and hence the spider's web created really wonderfully, I think.
LAGERCRANTZThank you, thank you.
REHMYou're most welcome. And you're listening to the Diane Rehm Show. And let's go to Reggie in Naples, Florida. You're on the air.
REGGIEHi Diane, excited to be on your show, a longtime listener, first-time caller.
REGGIEI got a question for your guest. If a new movie was made on the new book, would Rooney Mara be called back to play the character Lisbeth Salander?
LAGERCRANTZWell, I do not have the power to choose. Do you have a good opinion about that? Who will play Lisbeth Salander if there will be a movie? You know, I thought Noomi Rapace was absolutely excellent in the Swedish movie, yes.
REHMIn the Swedish movie, yeah.
LAGERCRANTZYou know, the funny thing actually was my sister played the murderous wife in the Swedish adaption, and I, you know, I called her every week. I said, so what are you doing now? It's a movie, and my part is not much. But you remember old Noomi because they were living together in this community.
REHMI do remember.
LAGERCRANTZYou know, they were hippies, and she said, but Noomi will have a break on this, and she was certainly right. I think she was brilliant.
REHMAll right, let's go now to Richard in Houston, Texas. You're on the air.
RICHARDHey, thank you for taking my call.
RICHARDSir, you kind of, you kind of just answered my question. I was going to compare the Swedish movies versus the American, and to me the original three movies are so much better than the American version.
REHMYou and I both agree on that, David.
LAGERCRANTZYeah, yeah, I think we do. But, you know, I didn't re-see them because I wanted to have my own Lisbeth in my head. So I stuck to the books, actually, yes.
REHMI want to talk about one more absolutely intriguing character.
REHMAnd that is the young boy who is affected by autism. He is also a savant.
REHMTalk a little about that.
LAGERCRANTZFirst of all, I mean, when we started to do that, they didn't say to me, yes, you know, get on going, it's a dark and stormy night, and then you find something up. You must have a storyline. So -- and I woke up one morning, four in the morning, and I remembered an old story that I did as a young journalist. It was just after seeing "Rain Man" with Dustin Hoffman. You know, and I was absolutely obsessed. I mean, how could a mind, you know, function like this.
LAGERCRANTZSo I asked leading Swedish neurologist, is there any savants in Sweden. And he presented me to a couple who have this eight-year-old son who was half-deaf. And he hadn't said his first word yet, and he was eight years old. And then one day, he passed a traffic light. And the next day, he drew it exactly, without knowing anything, anyone teaching him about three-dimensional drawing. And I was so fascinated about that.
REHMAnd you put that scene in the book.
LAGERCRANTZYes, and I sort of immediately saw this young boy, or a character like this, as a mirror figure to Lisbeth Salander. And then I also of course realized what will happen if a boy like this witnessed something horrible as a murder, and what will happen if the murderer finds out that this boy is not an idiot, he is a savant with the capacity to draw. And who will rescue this young boy?
REHMAnd of course we know.
LAGERCRANTZWe know. Lisbeth Salander.
REHMLisbeth Salander. The book we've been talking about, "The Girl in the Spider's Web," David Lagercrantz the author. And also here in the studio, Sonny Mehta, editor-in-chief and chairman of Knopf. Thank you both so very much.
REHMAnd thanks, all, for listening. I'm Diane Rehm.
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