Obituary: Maj Sjöwall

Swedish writer Maj Sjöwall has died at the age of 84 after a long illness. Her death was not related to the current outbreak of coronavirus (COVID-19).

Maj Sjöwall was born in Stockholm in 1935. Having studied journalism and graphics, she began working in the Swedish press whereupon she met successful political journalist Per Wahlöö in 1961. The personal and professional relationship that followed resulted in two sons and a series of influential Nordic Noir novels.

Although authors in their own right, life partners Maj Sjöwall and Per Wahlöö collaborated on ten novels about fictional homicide detective Martin Beck which have been translated into 40 languages and adapted into films starring Gösta Ekman and Peter Haber as the idealistic detective.

Known collectively as The Story Of A Crime, it was intended that the novels be read sequentially as a single volume of 300 chapters and, whilst Sjöwall and Wahlöö plotted and researched each instalment together, they chose to write alternate chapters.

Maj Sjöwall and Per Wahlöö’s personal relationship lasted for 13 years, until Per died due to pancreatic cancer in 1975, just weeks after the final Beck novel was published.