Stieg Larsson's Controversial Legacy

Death carries great power. It was probably inevitable that the small world in the small country of Sweden in which Eva, Stieg, their friends and Stieg's family had lived for so many years would fall apart in an instant. The explosion didn't happen immediately, but only after the Millennium trilogy had become a global success. Gabrielsson describes the effects of Larsson's death and of the millions generated by his books in her own book, "'There Are Things I want You to Know' About Stieg Larsson and Me," which will be released in German translation next week.

The book is based on the diary she kept after Larsson's death. She was in the central Swedish city of Falun on that day, Nov. 9, 2004. By the time she arrived at the hospital, it was too late. It was a death without goodbyes, and she remained shaken by it for a long time, during which she was in therapy. Her book conveys her efforts to regain control over her life, and it contains many moving passages. But Gabrielsson aims to achieve more than that with this book. She wanted to examine what actually happened during that time, she says. After this point in the conversation, her quietly spoken sentences are peppered with a few strong words that tolerate no objections, words like truth, justice, human rights and core values.

Blood Trumps Love

Gabrielsson and Larsson weren't just a couple, but also a leftist action group. First they were Maoists and then Trotskyists, voicing their criticism of the Swedish welfare state from a leftist point of view. She was an architect, while he worked for a news agency. They managed to make ends meet, and had no children. Like many Swedes of their generation, they were anti-bourgeois.

In their social circle, while couples may have been monogamous, they didn't marry. But under Swedish law, a member of an unmarried couple doesn't inherit anything from his or her deceased partner, no matter how long the couple was together. Blood trumps love, unless a will exists, but Larsson hadn't written one. For that reason, the rapidly growing proceeds from the sale of the books and the film rights went to two biological relatives, Larsson's father Erland (his mother Vivianne is dead) and his younger brother Joakim. "The money went to us, but we didn't ask for it," says Erland Larsson, 76. They could have turned down the inheritance, but that wasn't what they wanted.

The father and the brother still live in northern Sweden, in a city called Umea. The father occasionally visited his son in Stockholm and tried to convince him to get married, but the son only laughed at his father's suggestion. The brothers, Stieg and Joakim, were not close and rarely saw each other.

After Larsson's death, when his novels suddenly became such a huge success, the widow who isn't a widow under the law sat down with Erland and Joakim Larsson to discuss what should happen next. An agreement seemed possible. But then attorneys took over the case, and an inheritance war ensued -- one in which the Stieg Larsson fan community has participated extensively.

Two camps have since formed in Sweden: the (primarily female) Eva camp, with its own website (, and the (primarily male) Larsson camp (

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