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Alvtegen, Karin 1965–

Alvtegen, Karin 1965–

(Karin Anna Alvtegen)

PERSONAL: Born June 8, 1965, in Huskvarna, Sweden; daughter of two teachers; married; children: two.

ADDRESSES: Home—Stockholm, Sweden. Agent—Salomonsson Agency, P.O. Box 2337, 103 18 Stockholm, Sweden.

CAREER: Writer.

AWARDS, HONORS: Glass Key award for best Scandinavian crime novel, 2000, and Silverpocket award, 2002, both for Saknad; Goldpocket award, 2004, for Svek.

WRITINGS:

NOVELS

Skuld, [Sweden], 1998, translation by Anna Paterson published as Guilt, Canongate (Edinburgh, Scotland), 2006.

Saknad, [Sweden], 2000, translation by Anna Paterson published as Missing, Canongate (Edinburgh, Scotland), 2003.

Svek, [Sweden], 2003, translation by Steven T. Murray published as Betrayal, Canongate (Edinburgh, Scotland), 2005.

Skam (title means "Shame"), [Sweden], 2005.

Alvtegen's works have been translated into more than twenty languages.

ADAPTATIONS: Missing was adapted by Jimmy Gardner as a film for SMG TV Productions.

SIDELIGHTS: Karin Alvtegen, niece of famous Swedish author Astrid Lindgren, is a best-selling author of thriller novels in her homeland of Sweden. Alvtegen never aspired to be an author until after a tragic occurrence in her family. In 1993 one of her two brothers, Magnus, died while mountain climbing. Stricken by the sudden realization of life's uncertainties, Alvtegen found herself paralyzed by frequent panic attacks for several years. "Then one morning," she related on her Web site, "I woke up with the beginning of a story in my head. I imagined someone being in the same state as me, but with the courage to break his own entrenchment." The idea inspired the character of Peter Brolin in her debut novel, Skuld, which was later translated as Guilt. Writing helped Alvtegen overcome her panic attacks by focusing on a goal. Since then, she has published several more novels that have been well received by reading audiences.

Guilt is about how, in a case of mistaken identity, Brolin is paid to deliver a package that contains something horrifying. Pursued by others who want the package, Brolin can only survive if he is able to face up to his own past. Other novels by Alvtegen have also tended to feature tormented protagonists, such as Skam ("Shame"), which is about a young girl whose zealously religious parents force her to suppress her own sexuality as well as the family's darkest secret, and Saknad, translated as Missing, which is about a homeless woman escaping her past only to find herself accused of murdering someone she does not even know. Writing in a Spectator review, Diana Hendry commented on how, in Missing, Alvtegen combines two main plots involving the crime and the protagonist Sibylla's coming-of-age struggles. Although Hendry felt that these elements "are skillfully woven together," she further commented that she "didn't emerge from the book knowing more about how it really feels to be homeless." On the other hand, Paul Richmond called Missing "a fine psychological mystery/thriller" in his Reviewing the Evidence online assessment. Contrary to Hendry, Richmond felt that "Alvtegen excels … in creating a haunting yet engaging character portrait of a homeless person."

BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:

PERIODICALS

Spectator, July 12, 2003, Diana Hendry, "Watching Panties Dry," review of Missing, p. 39.

ONLINE

Karin Alvtegen Home Page, http://www.karinalvtegen.com (January 21, 2006).

Reviewing the Evidence, http://www.reviewingtheevidence.com/ (October 1, 2003), Paul Richmond, review of Missing.

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