Henning Mankell, RIP

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Henning Mankell, RIP

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Editat: oct. 5, 2015, 7:06pm

The last time I wrote about a writer on LT, it was in acknowledgement of E L Doctorow's death earlier this year. Today I awake to the news that Henning Mankell has died of cancer at his home in Sweden, aged 67.

Best known as the author of the Kurt Wallender detective mysteries, Wallender's legacy is also the founder of Scandanavian noir that spawned and brought fame to countryman Steig Larsson and the Norweigian creator of Harry Hole, Jo Nesbo, among others.

The Wallender mysteries were produced for television in Sweden and later in Great Britain, where Kenneth Branagh starred in the title role. His series is available to American audiences.

Mankell killed off his great detective like many crime serialists have tried to do. But he was successful at letting Wallender slide into Alzheimer's and retirement. And Mankell expressed that he was glad to see the last of him. Mankell wished his other novels and plays had been part of his world fame, but for people outside Sweden, it is mostly the dour, drinking, failure at love who made him famous.

I've only read one Wallender novel. It is Daniel that affected me most. A complex historical novel that features a new twist on the brutality of the colonial experience suffered by Africans in the 19th C., Mankell's lifelong concern for the mistreatment of non-European immigrants is the central theme.

There are few writers who put their politics into their novels as well into their life's activities the way Mankell did. He was both advocate and activist in the cause of racial injustice and nationalism gone mad. His concern extended beyond Africa, where he lived part time in Mozambique to the plight of Palestinians.

I hope you have a favorite Mankell novel or moment and invite you to share your impressions and memories below.

oct. 5, 2015, 4:48pm

Mankell was the writer who got me going on the Nordic murders jokes...more novels about murder than total crimes, etc...

Like Harry Hole, though

Editat: oct. 6, 2015, 3:16am

Mr. Mankell was one of my very favourite authors. I happened upon his works quite by accident many years back, when I picked up a remaindered copy of Before the Frost. I enjoyed it thoroughly. It was my first Scandinavian noir novel, but my liking for Mankell's works have spurred me on to reading so many others of the genre. Without Mankell I may never have picked up books by Jo Nesbo, Arnaldur Indridason, Asa Larsson, Stieg Larsson, and so many others.

I think my favourite of Mankell's works is The Troubled Man, the one with which Mankell ended the series. The slowly-growing confusion, the blurring of reality, it was all so well done. Obviously I was sad to see Wallander succumb to Alzheimer's, but I was greatly impressed by how well he wrote the progression of the disease.

In his non-Wallander books, of which I have read only a couple, I have liked The Man from Beijing the most. It is such an intricately-drawn story, so detailed, so imaginative.

I think that the BBC version of Wallander is spot-on. There couldn't be a finer Wallander than Kenneth Branagh - it's almost as if Mankell wrote the novels with Branagh in mind. I have watched the series twice, and I hope that there are more episodes than the Canadian Netflix has yet made available.

Henning Mankell. Terry Pratchett, Ann Rule, Ruth Rendell, P.D. James. It has been a hard year losing authors whose creative gifts have brought me countless hours of pleasure.

Edited to add: P.D. James died in November, 2014, but it's within the year, and certainly seems like a recent occurrence.

oct. 6, 2015, 10:41am

Thanks for mentioning "Beijing." I'll look for it. I haven't read one by him with a female protagonist.

Have you read Per Petterson? Norwegian who writes stylistically noir but not crime. I Curse the River of Time is beautiful.

While I'm not much of a crime reader, I did devote youthful time to lots of P D James. But you're right, we've lost so much talent. Too much. Seeing their names listed reminds me that besides E L Doctorow, two other stars went out -- Ivan Doig and Kent Haruf, favorites of mine.

oct. 6, 2015, 9:39pm

This is the first I've heard about Mankell's passing. Very sad to hear it. I've watched all of the Wallander's shows and found them to be so compelling. I don't often read books where I already know what's happened, like the Wallander series, but will have to give his other books a try.

P.D. James and Ruth Rendell were favorites of mine, too. And while she wasn't one of my absolute favorites, I did enjoy some of Maeve Binchy's books, too. We lost Colleen McCullough (I've remember loving "The Thorn Birds"). And last but certainly not least, my favorite poet and song writer, Rod McKuen. There was a day when he was all I listened to. Just a gentle, loving soul. All very sad losses.

oct. 7, 2015, 6:39pm

>5 hubblegal: I was going to list Maeve Binchy as well, until I discovered that she'd died in 2012!! It seems like just yesterday that I read of her death. I have always enjoyed her books, and my second daughter is named for one of her characters.

The Thorn Birds. I remember that so well. It was the very first book that my parents let me read that had sex scenes in it. Rather tame sex scenes, I see from the perspective of several decades, but it was an eye-opener for me!

oct. 7, 2015, 6:55pm

Maeve Binchy died in 2012?! That's the problem with Facebook - people just keep posting on these old threads and they keep popping up as new. I just saw Maeve Binchy's passing on Facebook and thought she had just died. I never heard anything about it in 2012, only recently. Thanks for the clarification.

Yes, those sex scenes were tame compared to today, for sure! So romantic though. I sure don't read romances now. Guess it was my youth that caused the book to remain one that I've never forgotten.

oct. 8, 2015, 7:34am

The Thorn Birds was almost required reading in the 70s. I got through it, but, Whew! I was glad she wrote some shorter works. I've enjoyed Tim a couple of times, and I buy every copy of The Ladies of Missalonghi that I come across and pass them around to my women friends.

oct. 21, 2015, 3:06pm

I've read nothing by Colleen McCullough yet - but I've the first three books of her Masters of Rome series hiding somewhere.