Swedish crime writer Mankell, cre­ator of Wal­lan­der, dies at 67


Best- selling Swedish crime writer Hen­ning Mankell, whose de­tec­tive char­ac­ter Kurt Wal­lan­der be­came a world­wide phe­nom­e­non, has died at 67 af­ter a bat­tle with can­cer.

Mankell, who first re­vealed he had can­cer in Jan­uary last year, “died in his sleep early this morn­ing” in Swe­den’s sec­ond city of Gothen­burg, his pub­lish­ing house Leop­ard said on its web­site on Mon­day.

Mankell’s col­lec­tion of dark nov­els about the Swedish po­lice in­spec­tor Wal­lan­der brought the au­thor in­ter­na­tional fame, par­tic­u­larly af­ter it was made into a tele­vi­sion se­ries by the BBC star­ring Os­car- nom­i­nated ac­tor and di­rec­tor Ken­neth Branagh.

“Hen­ning Mankell was one of the great Swedish au­thors of our time, loved by read­ers in Swe­den and all over the world,” said a state­ment from Leop­ard, which Mankell co- founded in 2001.

“Sol­i­dar­ity with those in need runs through his en­tire work and man­i­fested it­self in ac­tion un­til the very end,” it said.

Mankell, who shared his time be­tween Swe­den and Mozam­bique, pub­lished more than 40 nov­els, plays and chil­dren’s books, selling around 40 mil­lion copies around the world.

The Wal­lan­der se­ries it­self won nu­mer­ous awards and con­trib­uted to the mas­sive global in­ter­est in Scan­di­na­vian crime and thriller nov­els dubbed Nordic noir.

The prickly char­ac­ter of Wal­lan­der hails from the coastal town of Ys­tad which has drawn fans of the de­tec­tive se­ries from around the world cu­ri­ous to fol­low in his fic­tional foot­steps.

‘ Inspired, en­ter­tained,


Branagh wrote to Swedish Ra­dio that he would miss Mankell’s in­tel­li­gence and gen­eros­ity.

U. S. rock icon Patti Smith, who shared a long friend­ship with Mankell, ex­pressed her grief in an email to Swedish daily Afton­bladet.

“I hes­i­tate to rise and be­gin my day as I know each mo­ment will form a clearer sense of the ir­re­deemable loss of our dear friend and men­tor,” she wrote.

“As an au­thor he inspired, en­ter­tained and in­cited. As a man he en­cour­aged, sup­ported and openly shared. In my mind I see his desk, the pages of his manuscripts, his black cloth­ing, his know­ing eyes.”

Mankell first re­vealed he had can­cer in a news­pa­per col­umn in Jan­uary 2014, say­ing it was dis­cov­ered when he un­der­went treat­ment for a slipped disc.

“A few days later ... I had it in black and white: it was se­ri­ous. I had one tu­mour in the back of my neck and one in my left lung. The can­cer could also have spread to other parts of my body,” he wrote at the time.

He chron­i­cled his fight with the dis­ease in his fi­nal book, “Quick­sand: What it means to be a hu­man be­ing.”

Away from ‘ eth­no­cen­tric Europe’

Mankell was also known for rights ac­tivisim, and joined a flotilla in 2010 try­ing to break the Is­raeli block­ade and take aid to the Gaza Strip.

He said he wanted to cre­ate a sit­u­a­tion where “Pales­tini­ans are not treated like sec­ond- class cit­i­zens in their own coun­try, a sort of apartheid sys­tem.”

In Mozam­bique, he was artis­tic di­rec­tor of the Teatro Avenida theatre group, in or­der to, as he told AFP in a 2011 in­ter­view, ob­serve the world from a spot other than “our eth­no­cen­tric Europe.”

Asked where he be­lieved the cen­ter of Europe lay, Mankell replied “the small is­land of Lampe­dusa, south of Si­cily” from where tens of thou­sands of mi­grants ar­rive on Europe’s shores ev­ery year flee­ing war and poverty.

Af­ter he be­gan ex­plor­ing Africa in the 1970s, he used to say he had “one foot in the snow, one foot in the sand.”

“Writ­ing was vi­tal for Hen­ning,” news agency TT quoted Dan Is­rael, with whom he es­tab­lished Leop­ard, as say­ing.

“He was con­tem­plat­ing writ­ing a new Wal­lan­der for the 25th an­niver­sary of the se­ries next year,” added Is­rael, who saw Mankell sev­eral days be­fore his death.

His pub­lisher in France for 25 years, Anne Freyer, who had been due to meet him at a literary fes­ti­val in south­ern France later this week, told AFP she was “shat­tered” by news of his death.

Mankell leaves a widow Eva Bergman, 70, the daugh­ter of Swedish cin­ema great Ing­mar Bergman, and his son Jon.


This June 1 file photo shows Swedish au­thor Hen­ning Mankell, who died at the age of 67, his pub­lish­ers wrote on their web­site on Mon­day morn­ing, Oct. 5.

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