June 22, 2011
Eva Gabrielsson had been mourning the loss of her longtime partner, author Stieg Larsson, for nine months when his first novel, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, came out posthumously in Sweden in 2005. “I started seeing it everywhere,” Gabrielsson says on the phone from Stockholm. “There were special stands for it in bookstores with Stieg’s photograph on them. I was shocked. I trained myself to recognize the colors and the graphics of the books so I could run away and not see them. It reminded me that he was gone.”
When Larsson died at age 50 — he had a heart attack after climbing up the stairs to the offices of Expo, the antifascist magazine he cofounded — he could not have had any idea that his Millennium Trilogy of crime novels, which he had just delivered to the publisher, was to become the biggest publishing franchise since Harry Potter. “I think Stieg would have been as surprised as everyone else,” says Gabrielsson, 57. “We had hoped that the books would be a success” — a way to pay off their mortgage — “but this was so beyond.”
Now, just six years later, Larsson’s The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, The Girl Who Played with Fire, and The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest have sold more than 50 million copies and spawned three Swedish films and a popular television miniseries. The American version of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, starring Daniel Craig and Rooney Mara, opens in December, and two sequels will follow. Larsson’s estate was recently estimated to be worth more than $40 million.
But the woman who shared his life for 32 years — Gabrielsson — was left with virtually nothing. “The decision not to marry worked too well,” she says, her voice clipped with emotion. Like one of Larsson’s characters, caught in a web of intrigue, Gabrielsson doesn’t have anything left to hold on to but Larsson’s unfinished fourth novel — believed to be on his laptop, the whereabouts of which she won’t reveal. She says she’ll give it up when she gets her due.
Read the rest of the article. On stands early July in the August 2011 issue of Harper’s Bazaar.