Maj Sjöwall

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Maj Sjöwall
Sjöwall at a crime fiction festival in Bremen, Germany, in 2009
Sjöwall at a crime fiction festival in Bremen, Germany, in 2009
Born(1935-09-25)25 September 1935
Stockholm, Sweden
Died29 April 2020(2020-04-29) (aged 84)
Landskrona, Sweden
OccupationNovelist, Translator
GenreCrime fiction
Literary movementNordic noir
Notable worksMartin Beck novels
Notable awardsThe Lenin Award
Adolf-Grimme-Preis (1996, shared with Gösta Ekman)
PartnerPer Wahlöö

Maj Sjöwall (Swedish pronunciation: [maj ˈɧø̂ːval]; 25 September 1935 – 29 April 2020) was a Swedish author and translator. She is best known for her books about police detective Martin Beck. She wrote the books in collaborative work with her partner Per Wahlöö.


Maj Sjöwall was the daughter of Margit Trobäck and CEO Will Sjöwall.[1]

After completing school Sjöwall was employed at Åhlén & Åkerlunds publishers between 1954 and 1959, Wahlström & Widstrands publishers between 1959 and 1961 and then Esselte publishers between 1961 and 1963.[2]

Sjöwall was best known for the collaborative work with her partner Per Wahlöö on a series of ten novels about the exploits of Martin Beck, a police detective in Stockholm.[3] They also wrote several novels separately.[4] In 1971, the fourth of the Beck books, The Laughing Policeman (a translation of Den skrattande polisen, originally published in 1968) won an Edgar Award from the Mystery Writers of America for Best Novel; the book was also adapted into the film The Laughing Policeman starring Walter Matthau.[3] In 2013, Sjöwall received the fifth Lenin Award.[5]

After the death of Wahlöö, she continued working as a translator, writing columns for magazines and as an author.[6] With Danish author Bjarne Nielsen she in 1989 published the book Dansk Intermezzo.[7] In 1990, she and author Tomas Ross published the thriller Kvinnan som liknade Greta Garbo.[8]

Personal life[edit]

Sjöwall married her first husband, magazine editor Gunnar Isaksson, in 1955, and they divorced in 1958.[1] She married again in 1959 to photographer Hans J. Flodquist; they divorced in 1962.[1]

Sjöwall had a 13-year relationship with Wahlöö, which lasted until his death in 1975.[9]

Sjöwall died on 29 April 2020, at the age of 84 after a prolonged illness.[10]


Martin Beck novels written with Per Wahlöö[edit]

Other books[edit]

  • Dansk Intermezzo (1989). Martin Beck novel written with Bjarne Nielsen.[12]
  • Kvinnan som liknade Greta Garbo (1990). Written jointly with Tomas Ross.[11]
  • Sista resan och andra berättelser (2007).[11] Collection of short stories written by Sjöwall and Wahlöö.[12]


The books about Martin Beck were adapted into several successful films, and Beck has been portrayed by several of Sweden's best-known actors.[13] The best-known portrayal of Beck is by actor Peter Haber, who has appeared in 42 films/episodes in the role.[14]


  1. ^ a b c "Författaren Maj Sjöwall död". Dagens Nyheter. 29 April 2020. Retrieved 30 April 2020.
  2. ^ "928 (Vem är det : Svensk biografisk handbok / 1977)". Retrieved 30 April 2020.
  3. ^ a b "Författaren Maj Sjöwall död". Svenska Dagbladet. 29 April 2020. Retrieved 30 April 2020.
  4. ^ "Sweden's crime writers too interested in love, says Maj Sjöwall". The Guardian. 14 August 2013. Retrieved 29 April 2020.
  5. ^ "Maj Sjöwall | Leninpriset". Retrieved 3 March 2020.
  6. ^ Eklund, Stefan (18 June 2010). "Deckardam". Svenska Dagbladet. Retrieved 30 April 2020.
  7. ^ SL, TAI GABE DIGITALA (29 April 2020). "Muere la escritora Maj Sjöwall, pionera de la novela negra nórdica". naiz. Retrieved 30 April 2020.
  8. ^ "Kvinnan som liknade Greta Garbo av Maj Sjöwall". LitteraturMagazinet. Retrieved 30 April 2020.
  9. ^ The queen of crime The Observer 22 November 2009
  10. ^ "Maj Sjöwall: 'Nordic noir' pioneer, author of the Martin Beck series, dies aged 84". The Guardian. 29 April 2020. Retrieved 30 April 2020.
  11. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l "Beck-författaren Maj Sjöwall har gått bort". SVT Nyheter (in Swedish). 29 April 2020. Retrieved 29 April 2020.
  12. ^ a b "Maj Sjöwall". Nationalencyklopedin. Retrieved 30 April 2020.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  13. ^ "Sju av de viktigaste "Beck" – filmerna". Expressen. Retrieved 30 April 2020.
  14. ^ "BEKRÄFTAT: Det blir fyra nya Beck-filmer – då har de premiär". Aftonbladet. Retrieved 30 April 2020.

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]