The Girl Who Kicked the Hornets' (and Hornet's) Nest
Stieg Larsson wrote thrillers about a very handsome reporter named Mikael Blomkvist, who works for the magazine Millennium, and his collaborator Lisbeth Salander, who is a pierced and tattooed bisexual computer hacker. They live in Stockholm and solve crimes involving sleazy politicians, dishonest businessmen, crooked cops and cowardly journalists. Their Sweden is not a place of happy Ikea furniture or arty Ingmar Bergman films or idealistic socialist visions. It's a country of spies, sex traffickers, mysteries and amazing corruption, which is why, along with Larsson's great writing, the books have sold millions of copies.
The third volume of Stieg Larsson's Millennium trilogy has just gone on sale in the US. Except for the Harry Potter series, Americans haven't been so excited about a book since the early 1840s, when they stood on the docks in New York, waiting for ships bringing news of Little Nell in Charles Dickens's The Old Curiosity Shop.
Today, however, we have the internet and Amazon, so impatient readers on the other side of the Atlantic have been able to order the book from Britain since Christmas. Apart from paying a bit more, they've also got a book with a different title. In the UK, it's The Girl Who Kicked the Hornets' Nest. In the US, it's The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest. Why is the apostrophe in a different place in the two titles? Has Knopf, Larsson's American publisher, which has printed 750,000 copies of Hornet's Nest, made a terrible punctuation mistake? I don't know, but I'm sure it takes more than one hornet to make a nest.