Eight years ago, actor Krister Henriksson was living in a hotel in the Swedish fishing village of Ystad, filming Wallander, when he came up with a novel way of spending the evenings. Not for him a nightly trip to the hotel bar or gorging on room service. Instead, he decided to dedicate his free time to memorising Doktor Glas, an experimental 1905 novel by the Swedish writer Hjalmar Söderberg.
“If you’re living in a hotel for one and a half years,” Henriksson tells me in his near-fluent, gruffly accented English, “you grow fatter. In Sweden, we call it ‘the hotel death’. I got scared – I thought: ‘I have to save my life. I have to do something.’ I’m no good at knitting, I’m not interested in doing crosswords. Suddenly, I thought of Doktor Glas. And I sat every night and read that book, over and over, until I