Henning Mankell

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{{Infobox writer | name = Henning Mankell | image = Henning Mankell 3 2011 Shankbone.jpg | caption = Mankell in New York City in 2011 | pseudonym = | birth_date = 3 February 1948 | birth_name = Henning Georg Mankell | birth_place = Stockholm, Sweden | death_date = 5 October 2015(2015-10-05) (aged 67) | death_place = Gothenburg, Sweden

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Gothenburg City in Västergötland and Bohuslän, Sweden

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| spouse =

Eva Bergman (m. 1998)

| children = 4 | relatives = Ingmar Bergman (father-in-law) | occupation = Novelist, playwright, publisher | period = 1991–2009 (Kurt Wallander series) | genre = Crime fiction
Thriller | subject = | movement = | notableworks = The Kurt Wallander novels

Ingmar Bergman Swedish filmmaker

Ernst Ingmar Bergman was a Swedish director, writer, and producer who worked in film, television, theatre and radio. Considered to be among the most accomplished and influential filmmakers of all time, Bergman's films include Smiles of a Summer Night (1955), The Seventh Seal (1957), Wild Strawberries (1957), Through a Glass Darkly (1961), Winter Light (1963), The Silence (1963), Persona (1966), Cries and Whispers (1972), Scenes from a Marriage (1973), Fanny and Alexander (1982) and Saraband (2003).

Kurt Wallander is a fictional character created by Swedish crime writer Henning Mankell. The protagonist of many mystery novels, set in and around the town of Ystad, 56 km (35 mi) south-east of the city of Malmö, in the southern province of Skåne. Wallander has been portrayed on screen by the actors Rolf Lassgård, Krister Henriksson and Kenneth Branagh.

Crime fiction genre of fiction focusing on crime

Crime fiction is a literary genre that fictionalises crimes, their detection, criminals, and their motives. It is usually distinguished from mainstream fiction and other genres such as historical fiction or science fiction, but the boundaries are indistinct. Crime fiction has multiple subgenres, including detective fiction, courtroom drama, hard-boiled fiction and legal thrillers. Most crime drama focuses on crime investigation and does not feature the court room. Suspense and mystery are key elements that are nearly ubiquitous to the genre.

Henning Georg Mankell (Swedish pronunciation:  [²hɛnːɪŋ ˈmaŋːkɛl] ; 3 February 1948 5 October 2015) was a Swedish crime writer, children's author, and dramatist, best known for a series of mystery novels starring his most noted creation, Inspector Kurt Wallander. He also wrote a number of plays and screenplays for television.

Childrens literature stories, books, and poems that are enjoyed by and targeted primarily towards children

Children's literature or juvenile literature includes stories, books, magazines, and poems that are enjoyed by children. Modern children's literature is classified in two different ways: genre or the intended age of the reader.

A playwright or dramatist is a person who writes plays.

Mystery fiction genre of fiction usually involving a mysterious death or a crime to be solved

Mystery fiction is a genre of fiction usually involving a mysterious death or a crime to be solved. Often with a closed circle of suspects, each suspect is usually provided with a credible motive and a reasonable opportunity for committing the crime. The central character will often be a detective who eventually solves the mystery by logical deduction from facts presented to the reader. Sometimes mystery books are nonfictional. "Mystery fiction" can be detective stories in which the emphasis is on the puzzle or suspense element and its logical solution such as a whodunit. Mystery fiction can be contrasted with hardboiled detective stories, which focus on action and gritty realism.

He was a left-wing social critic and activist. In his books and plays he constantly highlighted social inequality issues and injustices in Sweden and abroad. In 2010, Mankell was on board one of the ships in the Gaza Freedom Flotilla that was boarded by Israeli military forces. He was below deck when eight or nine people were shot.

The Gaza Freedom Flotilla, organized by the Free Gaza Movement and the Turkish Foundation for Human Rights and Freedoms and Humanitarian Relief (İHH), was carrying humanitarian aid and construction materials, with the intention of breaking the Israeli-Egyptian blockade of the Gaza Strip. In normal circumstances, aid is brought to Israel to be inspected and then transferred to Gaza.

Mankell shared his time between Sweden and countries in Africa, mostly Mozambique where he started a theatre. He made considerable donations to charity organizations, mostly connected to Africa.

Life and career

Mankell's grandfather, also named Henning Mankell, lived from 1868 to 1930 and was a composer. [1] Mankell was born in Stockholm, Sweden in 1948. His father Ivar was a lawyer who divorced his mother when Mankell was one year old. He and an older sister lived with his father for most of their childhood. The family first lived in Sveg, Härjedalen in northern Sweden, where Mankell's father was a district judge. In the biography on Mankell's website, he describes this time when they lived in a flat above the court as one of the happiest in his life. [2] In Sveg, a museum was built in his honour during his lifetime. [3]

Ivar Henning Mankell was a Swedish composer, largely of piano works. He studied at the conservatory in Stockholm from 1887 to 1895, and studied piano under Lennart Lundberg. He was a member of the Royal Swedish Academy of Music, and wrote music criticism for the Svenska morgonbladet and the Stockholms-tidningen. He gave private lessons in piano and music theory. He is also the grandson of Johan Hermann Mankell, the son of painter Emil Theodor Mankell, and the grandfather of author Henning Mankell.

Sveg Place in Härjedalen, Sweden

Sveg is a locality and the seat of Härjedalen Municipality in Jämtland County, Sweden with 2,547 inhabitants in 2010.

Härjedalen Place in Norrland, Sweden

Härjedalen is a historical province or landskap in the centre of Sweden. It borders the country of Norway as well as the provinces of Dalarna, Hälsingland, Medelpad, and Jämtland. The province originally belonged to Norway, but was ceded to Sweden in the Treaty of Brömsebro, 1645.

Later, when Mankell was thirteen, the family moved to Borås, Västergötland on the Swedish west coast near Gothenburg. [2] After three years he dropped out of school and went to Paris when he was 16. Shortly afterwards he joined the merchant marine, working on a cargo ship and he "loved the ship's decent hard-working community". [2] In 1966, he returned to Paris to become a writer. He took part in the student uprising of 1968. He later returned to work as a stagehand in Stockholm. [3] At the age of 20, he had already started as author at Riksteatern in Stockholm. [4] In the following years he collaborated with several theatres in Sweden. His first play, The Amusement Park dealt with Swedish colonialism in South America. [2] In 1973, he published The Stone Blaster, a novel about the Swedish labour movement. He used the proceeds from the novel to travel to Guinea-Bissau. Africa would later become a second home to him, and he spent a big part of his life there. When his success as a writer made it possible, he founded and ran a theatre in Mozambique. [2]

Borås Place in Västergötland, Sweden

Borås is a city and the seat of Borås Municipality, Västra Götaland County, Sweden. It had 66,273 inhabitants in 2010.

Västergötland Place in Götaland, Sweden

Västergötland, also known as West Gothland or the Latinized version Westrogothia in older literature, is one of the 25 traditional non-administrative provinces of Sweden, situated in the southwest of Sweden.

Paris Capital of France

Paris is the capital and most populous city of France, with an area of 105 square kilometres and an official estimated population of 2,140,526 residents as of 1 January 2019. Since the 17th century, Paris has been one of Europe's major centres of finance, diplomacy, commerce, fashion, science, and the arts.

After living in Zambia and other African countries, Mankell was invited from 1986 onward to become the artistic director of Teatro Avenida in Maputo, Mozambique. He subsequently spent extended periods in Maputo working with the theatre and as a writer. He built his own publishing house, Leopard Förlag, in order to support young talented writers from Africa and Sweden. [5] His novel Chronicler of the Winds , published in Sweden as Comédie infantil in 1995, reflects African problems and is based on African storytelling. [6] On 12 June 2008, he was awarded an honorary Doctorate from the University of St Andrews in Scotland "in recognition of his major contribution to literature and to the practical exercise of conscience". [7]

Around 2008, Mankell developed two original stories for the German police series Tatort . Actor Axel Milberg, who portrays Inspector Klaus Borowski, had asked Mankell to contribute to the show when they were promoting The Man from Beijing audiobook, a project that Milberg had worked on. The episodes were scheduled to broadcast in Germany in 2010. [8] [9] In 2010, Mankell was set to work on a screenplay for Sveriges Television about his father-in-law, movie and theatre director Ingmar Bergman, on a series produced in four one-hour episodes. Mankell pitched the project to Sveriges Television and production was planned for 2011. [10] At the time of his death, Mankell had written over 40 novels that had sold more than 40 million copies worldwide. [11]

Personal life

Mankell was married four times and had four sons, Thomas, Marius, Morten and Jon, by different relationships. In 1998 he married Eva Bergman, daughter of film director Ingmar Bergman. [3]


In January 2014, Mankell announced that he had been diagnosed with lung cancer and throat cancer. [12] In May 2014, he reported that treatments had worked well and he was getting better. [13]

He wrote a series of articles inspired by his wife Eva, describing his situation, how it felt to be diagnosed, [14] how it felt to be supported, [15] how it felt to wait, [16] and after his first chemotherapy at Sahlgrenska University Hospital about the importance of cancer research. [17] Three weeks before his death he wrote about what happens to people's identity when they are stricken by a serious illness [18] His last post was published posthumously 6 October. [19]

On 5 October 2015, Mankell died at the age of 67, almost two years after having been diagnosed. [20]

Political views

We refuse to understand the significance of Islamic culture in Europe's history. We are characterized by intense ignorance. What would Europe have been without Islamic culture? Nothing.

Henning Mankell, Dagbladet , 30 August 2007 (talking about his play Lampedusa which tells about a Muslim lesbian immigrant in Sweden) [21]

In his youth Mankell was a left-wing political activist and participated in the Protests of 1968 in Sweden, protesting against, among other things, the Vietnam War, the Portuguese Colonial War, and the apartheid regime in South Africa. Furthermore, he got involved with Folket i Bild/Kulturfront which focused on cultural policy studies. [22] In the 1970s, Mankell moved from Sweden to Norway and lived with a Norwegian woman who was a member of the Maoist Workers' Communist Party. He took an active part in their activities but did not join the party. [23]

In 2002, Mankell gave financial support by buying stocks for 50,000 NOK in the Norwegian left-wing newspaper Klassekampen . [24] In 2009, Mankell was a guest at the Palestine Festival of Literature. He said he had seen "repetition of the despicable apartheid system that once treated Africans and coloured as second-class citizens in their own country". He found a resemblance between the Israeli West Bank barrier and the Berlin Wall: "The wall that is currently dividing the country will prevent future attacks, in short term. In the end, it will face the same destiny as the wall that once divided Berlin did." [25] Considering the environment the Palestinian people live in, he continued: "Is it strange that some of them in pure desperation, when they cannot see any other way out, decide to become suicide bombers? Not really? Maybe it is strange that there are not more of them." [25]

Mankell stated in an interview with Haaretz that he did not support Hezbollah. [26] In Mankell's opinion the state of Israel should not have a future as a two-state solution and this "will not be the end of the historical occupation". He said he did not encounter antisemitism during his journey, just "hatred against the occupants that is completely normal and understandable", and said that "to keep these two things separate is crucial". [25]

Gaza flotilla

Mankell in 2009 Henning Mankell01.jpg
Mankell in 2009

In 2010, Henning Mankell was on board the MS Sofia, one of the boats which took part in the flotilla which tried to break the Israeli embargo of the Gaza strip. [27] Following the Israel Defense Forces' boarding of the flotilla on the morning of 31 May 2010, Mankell was deported to Sweden. He subsequently called for global sanctions against Israel. [28] In 2010 it was reported that he was considering halting Hebrew translations of his books. [29] In June 2011, Mankell stated in an article in the Israeli newspaper Haaretz that he had never considered preventing his books from being translated into Hebrew, and that unidentified persons had stolen his identity to make this false claim. [26]

Mankell was supposed to be one of twenty Swedish participants in "Freedom Flotilla II" which never took place. [30] It was originally scheduled to sail to Gaza in June 2011. [31]

Charity and legacy

There are too many people in the world who just sit and watch their money pile up, that is very hard for me to understand.

Henning Mankell [32]

In 2007, Henning Mankell donated 15 million Swedish crowns (about 1.5 million euros) to SOS Children's Villages for a children's village in Chimoio in western Mozambique. [33] Mankell donated vast amounts of money to charitable organizations such as SOS Children's Villages and Hand in Hand, [34] a collection of independent organizations. [35]

In the 1980s, Mankell visited United Nations refugee camps in Mozambique and later accompanied UN High Commissioner Sadako Ogata to refugee camps in South Africa. In 2013, he visited Congolese refugees in Uganda. He wrote on the plight of refugees and after his death his website asked for donations in his name to the UN Commission on Refugees. [36]

The theme for short stories submitted to the inaugural Festival Fim do Caminho Literary Prize, "Crime in Mozambique", was chosen in homage to Mankell. [37] [38]


Wallander series

Henning Mankell talks about The Man from Beijing on Bookbits radio.

Kurt Wallander is a fictional police inspector living and working in Ystad, [39] Sweden. In the novels, he solves shocking murders with his colleagues. The novels have an underlying question: "What went wrong with Swedish society?" [40]

The series has won many awards, including the German Crime Prize and the British 2001 CWA Gold Dagger for Sidetracked (1995). [41]

The ninth book, The Pyramid (1999), is a prequel about Wallander's past, covering the time until just before the start of Faceless Killers (1991). It includes a collection of five novellas: [41]

Ten years after The Pyramid, Mankell published another Wallander novel, The Troubled Man (2009), which he said would definitely be the last in the series. [41]

Linda is the daughter of Kurt Wallander, who follows in his footsteps as a police officer. Mankell began an intended trilogy of novels with her as the protagonist. However, following the suicide of Johanna Sällström, the actress playing the character at the time in the Swedish TV series, Mankell was so distraught that he decided to abandon the series after only the first novel. [42]


Crime fiction

Wallander series

Linda Wallander

Other crime novels

Other fiction


Children's books

Sofia series

Joel Gustafsson series

  • A Bridge to the Stars – 2005 ( Hunden som sprang mot en stjärna  [ sv ] – 1990)
  • Shadows in the Twilight – 2007 (Skuggorna växer i skymningen – 1991)
  • When the Snow Fell – 2007 (Pojken som sov med snö i sin säng – 1996)
  • The Journey to the End of the World – 2008 ( Resan till världens ände  [ sv ] – 1998)

Young children's books

  • The Cat Who Liked Rain – 2007

Film and television

Original screenplays for television and TV

Film and television adaptations of novels


Awards and honours

See also

Related Research Articles

<i>Faceless Killers</i> novel by Henning Mankell

Faceless Killers is a 1991 crime novel by the Swedish writer Henning Mankell, and the first in his acclaimed Wallander series. The English translation by Steven T. Murray was published in 1997.

<i>The Pyramid</i> (short story collection) literary work

The Pyramid is a collection of five short stories by Swedish crime fiction author Henning Mankell, first published in Sweden in 1999 and translated into English in 2008. It features his best-known character, police inspector Kurt Wallander.

Laurie Thompson was a British academic and translator, noted for his translations of Swedish literature into English.

Ebba Segerberg is an academic and translator, noted for her translations of Swedish literature into English.

<i>Sidetracked</i> (novel) novel by Henning Mankell

Sidetracked is a crime novel by Swedish author Henning Mankell, the fifth in his Kurt Wallander series. Translated into English, it won the UK Crime Writers' Association annual Gold Dagger award for "best crime novel" in 2001.

<i>The Man Who Smiled</i> 1994 novel by Henning Mankell

The Man Who Smiled is a novel by Swedish crime-writer Henning Mankell, and is the fourth in the Inspector Wallander series, although the English translations have not been published in chronological order.

<i>Before the Frost</i> novel by Henning Mankell

Before the Frost is a novel by Swedish crime-writer Henning Mankell.

<i>Chronicler of the Winds</i> novel by Henning Mankell

Chronicler of the Winds is a novel written by Henning Mankell in Swedish in 1995. The story is set in an unnamed port city in Africa which resembles Maputo, the capital of Mozambique, where the author often lived and worked. The narrator is a baker who finds a ten-year-old boy called Nelio. The boy has been shot on the stage of a theatre, and he tells the baker his life story and all his troubles, including living on the street, being persecuted for albinism, and being traumatized as a child soldier. Nelio is "presented as an inspirational figure" in a style derived from African storytelling. The novel was translated by Tiina Nunnally and published in English in 2006.

<i>Kennedys Brain</i> 2005 novel by Henning Mankell

Kennedy's Brain is a novel by Swedish writer Henning Mankell, that was originally published in the Swedish language in 2005. The English translation by Laurie Thompson was published in September, 2007.

Rolf Lassgård Swedish actor

Rolf Holger Lassgård is a Swedish actor. He is known for his many roles in crime dramas.

<i>Wallander</i> (UK TV series) British television series

Wallander is a British television series adapted from the Swedish novelist Henning Mankell's Kurt Wallander novels and starring Kenneth Branagh as the eponymous police inspector. It is the first time the Wallander novels have been adapted into an English-language production. Yellow Bird, a production company formed by Mankell, began negotiations with British companies to produce the adaptations in 2006. In 2007, Branagh met with Mankell to discuss playing the role. Contracts were signed and work began on the films, adapted from Sidetracked, Firewall and One Step Behind, in January 2008. Emmy-award-winning director Philip Martin was hired as lead director. Martin worked with cinematographer Anthony Dod Mantle to establish a visual style for the series.

Wallander is a film series based on the Kurt Wallander novels written by Henning Mankell and was adapted into a miniseries or TV film by Sveriges Television (SVT) between 1994 and 2006. These Swedish-language films starred Rolf Lassgård as Wallander. The final film Pyramiden (2007) features Gustaf Skarsgård as a younger Wallander.

<i>The Troubled Man</i> 2009 crime novel by Henning Mankell

The Troubled Man is a crime fiction novel by Swedish author Henning Mankell, featuring police inspector Kurt Wallander. It is the twelfth and final novel in the Wallander series. The pace of The Troubled Man is significantly slower than the previous Wallander stories, with several chapters between murders.[1]

<i>Wallander: Innan frosten</i> 2005 film by Kjell-Åke Andersson

Wallander – Innan frosten is a 2005 film about the Swedish police detective Kurt Wallander directed by Kjell-Åke Andersson. It is based on the novel with the same name by Henning Mankell.

<i>Wallander</i> (Swedish TV series) Swedish TV4 series, 2005–2013

Wallander is a Swedish television series adapted from Henning Mankell's Kurt Wallander novels, starring Krister Henriksson in the title role. The first season of thirteen films was produced in 2005 and 2006, with one taken directly from a novel and the remainder with new storylines suggested by Mankell. The second season of thirteen films was shown between 2009 and 2010. The stories are set in Ystad, Skåne near the southern tip of Sweden.

<i>Italian Shoes</i> 2006 novel by Henning Mankell

Italian Shoes is a 2006 novel by Swedish writer Henning Mankell. The English translation is by Laurie Thompson and in contrast with Mankell's other well-known novels has been written in the first person.

Nordic noir, also known as Scandinavian noir or Scandi noir, is a genre of crime fiction often written from a police point of view and set in either Scandinavia or the Nordic countries. The language is plain and deliberately avoids metaphor, the settings often have bleak landscapes, and the mood is dark and morally complex. The genre depicts a tension between the apparently still and bland social surface in the Nordic countries, and the murder, misogyny, rape, and racism it depicts as lying underneath. It contrasts with the whodunit style such as the English country house murder mystery. Frequently featuring a female protagonist, the popularity of the genre has extended to film and television, such as The Killing and its American adaptation, Marcella, and The Bridge and its French-British and American adaptations.

<i>The Dogs of Riga</i> novel by Henning Mankell

The Dogs of Riga is a Swedish detective mystery by Henning Mankell, set in Riga, the capital of Latvia. It is the second book of the Kurt Wallander series, and was translated into English by Laurie Thompson.


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  39. pronounced Ue-stad ("ue" as in "muesli" and "a" as in "father" – not pronounced as in the recent 2008 UK television adaptation)
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