Henning Mankell, one of Sweden’s best loved authors remembered

Henning Mankell, 2009 Photo: Wikimedia

Tributes poured in on Monday following the death of one of Sweden’s best-loved authors, Henning Mankell. Krister Henriksson, the actor who played Mankell’s famous fictional detective Kurt Wallander, said his death, at the age of 67, had left him ‘devastated’. The pair had been as ‘close as brothers’.

Henning Mankell produced forty novels and plays. His books have sold over 40 million copies and have been translated into more than 40 languages. It was his character Kurt Wallander, the melancholic police inspector that made his name and also put the southern Swedish town of Ystad on the map. The books had a recurring theme, examining the decline in Swedish society.

The 67 year old, who last year revealed he had cancer, died in Gothenburg early Monday, his publisher, Leopard, said in a statement on its website.

Mankell started Leopard with Dan Israel in 2001.

“I’ve known Henning 40 years. I was 26 years old when I met him for the first time. We have lived a lifetime together, he and I, one can say. Our lives have been inextricably linked,” says Dan Israel to Swedish Radio News.

How will you remember Henning Mankell from the time you’ve known him?

“I will always remember Henning as a warm person, often a little timid person. He was not the one who loved to be in the limelight but he was a very warm person. The meaning of his life was to write books that mattered to people.

“For me, Henning is one of the major Swedish authors. It is completely wrong to confine him to crime writing.

“He has written great love stories, amazing books about Africa, such as “Chronicler of the Winds”, which deals with street children living in poverty in Mozambique. He has written plays. But I do not in any way want to detract from the fact that Wallander is a stunning depiction of the welfare society’s decline and fall,” Dan Israel said.

The friend and publisher also told the newspaper Dagens Nyheter, that Mankell planned to write another Wallander book, to tie in with next year’s 25th anniversary of the first publication featuring the fictional hero.

The 67 year old managed to write two books after receiving his cancer diagnosis, which he also describes in his book, Quicksand.

“I woke one day during Christmas at our apartment in Antibes and had great pain in my neck. I thought that I had slept badly on it, but the pain did not ease and it spread to my arm and fingers. So I called my doctor at Sophiahemmet in Stockholm and got an appointment between Cristmas and New Years.”

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