Crime novelist Jo Nesbø presents latest book in Barcelona ahead of Sant Jordi
‘The Jealousy Man’ is a dark collection of stories about infidelity and desire
Jo Nesbø, for some the most successful Norwegian author of all time, has presented his latest book, 'The Jealously Man', in Barcelona on Friday. In a private auditorium in the ‘Casa del Llibre’ bookstore on La Rambla de Catalunya boulevard, Nesbø spoke about his most recent work ahead of Catalonia’s beloved celebration of books and roses, Sant Jordi, which falls on Saturday.
The book includes several short stories "drawing the reader in as they watch the potentially fatal outcomes of humanity’s most powerful emotions play out on the page," Nesbø’s website reads. But for him, these short stories are also an "art."
"It’s like leaving the canvas to the reader, you just show a few sketches and lines, like the Spanish painter Picasso," Nesbø said during the press conference. His mother, a librarian, always used to tell him that "everyone can write a novel, but only masters can write short stories," he explained.
As he was respectful of short stories, Nesbø said that he did not write any until she was dead. Although this is not the first time he writes short stories; he started writing songs in order to "get used to it."
The book is divided into two categories: jealousy and power. When someone reads one of these stories, they might think that some plots were inspired by real case events, like the Covid-19 pandemic or the US Capitol Hill riot on January 6, 2020.
But in fact, "it’s just a coincidence," Nesbø explained. One example is Rat Island that was "written before the pandemic, and then I just added some extra things," the writer said. All these stories that feature in ‘The Jealousy Man’ are not new. Some have been saved for a while, while others have been specifically written for the book.
To be more specific, Rat Island, despite having similarities with recent historical events, was technically inspired by what happened in the former Yugoslavia in the late 90s, the author explained. The Norwegian used to travel a lot with Interrail, Europe’s train rail network uniting several countries. When he was visiting the country at the time, "people did not think about who were Serbs, Croatians, or Bosnians," he said.
It was only six months after the then-president of Yugoslavia, Slobodan Milošević, came into power that young basketball players Nesbø had previously interviewed were then aiming sniper guns at their former teammates, the author said in Barcelona. "It happened so quickly."
The idea behind Rat Island is that "our civilization and our social rules can be changed overnight," he added.
As the book has several stories, the author had to travel around the world to explain in detail the different places that feature in the book, except for one: Prague, the capital of the Czech Republic. He did visit the city after finishing the story to see if he had the information right, "which was not the case," he ironically explained.
Also, there are some other places where the narrative develops, but in those cases, Nesbø did not want them to be real places, so he imagined his own world.
The author of detective Harry Hole’s saga explained that this time, despite not being long stories, he has not changed his writing style. "It is more the topics I deal with that set the tone," he said.
Even after writing a short story under a pseudonym, the publisher showed the piece to someone else and they linked the text to "someone imitating Jo Nesbø," the author explained with a laugh.
"I do not want to escape my style, as you spend time trying to find your voice," the author stated.