Henning Mankell

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For the composer (1868–1930), see Henning Mankell (composer).
Henning Mankell
Henning Mankell 3 2011 Shankbone.jpg
Mankell in New York in 2011
Born (1948-02-03) February 3, 1948 (age 67)
Stockholm, Sweden
Occupation Novelist, playwright, publisher
Nationality Swedish
Genre Crime fiction
Notable works The Kurt Wallander novels

Henning Mankell (Swedish pronunciation: [ˈhɛnˈnɪŋ ˈmaŋːkɛl]; born 3 February 1948) is a Swedish crime writer, children's author and dramatist, best known for a series of mystery novels starring his most famous creation, Inspector Kurt Wallander.

Life and career[edit]

Mankell was born in Stockholm, Sweden in 1948. His parents divorced when he was one year old, and for a majority of his childhood lived with his father, Ivar, and an older sister. The three lived first in Sveg (Härjedalen), where his father was a district judge, and later, Borås (Västergötland).[1] Mankell's grandfather, also named Henning Mankell (1868–1930), was a composer. At the age of 20 he had already started a career as author and assistant director at the Riksteater in Stockholm. In the following years he collaborated with several theatres in Sweden.

After living in Zambia and other African countries, Mankell was invited to become the artistic director of Teatro Avenida in Maputo, the capital of Mozambique. He now spends at least half the year in Maputo working with the theatre and writing. Recently he built up his own publishing house (Leopard Förlag) in order to support young talents from Africa and Sweden.

He is married to Eva Bergman, daughter of Ingmar Bergman. On 12 June 2008, he was awarded an honorary Doctorate from the University of St Andrews in Scotland.[2]

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 as the two were promoting The Chinaman audiobook, a project that Milberg had worked on. The episodes were scheduled to broadcast in Germany in 2010.[3][4]

Mankell was set to work on a screenplay for Sveriges Television about his father-in-law, the famous movie and theatre director Ingmar Bergman, during 2010, on a series produced in four one-hour episodes. Production was planned for 2011. Mankell pitched the project to Sveriges Television and will include international co-producers/financiers.[5] The plan is now to start filming in 2014 and publish the television series and a possible long film next year.[6]

In January 2014 Mankell told in public that he had been diagnosed with cancer. In May he reported that treatments had worked well and he was getting better.[7]

Political views[edit]

"We refuse to understand how big meaning Islamic culture has had in Europe's history. 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)[8]

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 the society Folket i Bild/Kulturfront which focused on cultural policy studies.[9]

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 actions but did not join the party.[10]

In 2002 Mankell gave financial support by buying stocks for 50,000 NOK in the Norwegian left-wing newspaper Klassekampen.[11][12]

In 2009, Mankell was a guest at a Palestinian literary conference. Thereafter, he claimed to have seen "repetition of the despicable Apartheid system that once treated Africans and coloured as second-class citizens in their own country". He also 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."[13]

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."[14] Mankell has also stated that he does not support Hezbollah.[15]

In Mankell's opinion the state of Israel is not to have a future in its current form, as a two-state solution "will not be the end of the historical occupation". He claimed not to have encountered antisemitism during his journey, just "hatred against the occupants that is completely normal and understandable", and he pointed out that "to keep these two things separate is crucial".[16]

Gaza flotilla[edit]

Henning Mankell in 2009.

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.[17] Following the Israel Defense Forces' boarding of the flotilla on the morning of May 31, 2010, Mankell was deported to Sweden. He subsequently called for global sanctions against Israel.[18] In 2010 he was reported to be considering halting Hebrew translations of his books.[19] However in June 2011, Mankell stated in an article in the Israeli newspaper Haaretz that he was in fact not considering preventing his books from being translated into Hebrew, and that anonymous persons had stolen his identity to make this false claim. [20]

Mankell was supposed to be one of twenty Swedish participants in "Freedom Flotilla II" which never took place.[21] It was originally scheduled to sail to Gaza in June 2011.[22]


"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[23]

In 2007, Henning Mankell donated 15 million Swedish Crowns (about 1,5 million euros) to SOS Children's Villages for a village in Chimoio in western Mozambique.[24] Mankell has donated vast amounts of money to charitable organizations like SOS Children's Villages and Hand in Hand[disambiguation needed].[25]


Crime fiction[edit]

Kurt Wallander[edit]

Kurt Wallander is a fictional police inspector living and working in Ystad,[26] Sweden. In the novels, he solves shocking murders with his colleagues. The novels have an underlying question: "What went wrong with Swedish society?"[27] The series has won many awards, including the German Crime Prize and the British 2001 CWA Gold Dagger for Sidetracked. The ninth book, The Pyramid, is a prequel: a collection of five novellas (Wallander's First Case, The Man with the Mask, The Man on the Beach, The Death of the Photographer, The Pyramid) about Wallander's past, with the last one ending just before the start of Faceless Killers. Ten years after The Pyramid, Mankell published another Wallander novel, The Troubled Man, which he said would definitely be the last in the series.[28]

Linda Wallander[edit]

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.[32]


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

Other fiction[edit]

  • Vettvillingen (1977)
  • Fångvårdskolonin som försvann (1979)
  • Dödsbrickan (1980)
  • En seglares död (1981)
  • Daisy Sisters (1982)
  • Sagan om Isidor (1984)
  • Leopardens öga (1990); English translation by Steven T. Murray: The Eye of the Leopard, (2008)
  • Comédia infantil (1995); English translation by Tiina Nunnally: Chronicler of the Winds, (2006)
  • Vindens son (2000); English translation by Steven T. Murray: Daniel (2010)
  • Tea-Bag (2001) English translation by Ebba Segerberg: The Shadow Girls (2012)
  • Djup (2004); English translation by Laurie Thompson: Depths, (2006)
  • Italienska skor (2006); English translation by Laurie Thompson: Italian Shoes, (2009)
  • Minnet av en Smutsig Ängel (2011); English translation by Laurie Thompson: A Treacherous Paradise, (2013)

Children's books[edit]

Books about Sofia[edit]

  • Secrets in the Fire – 2000 (Eldens hemlighet, 1995)
  • Playing with Fire – 2002 (Eldens gåta, 2001)
  • The Fury in the Fire – 2009 (Eldens vrede, 2005)

Joel Gustafsson series[edit]

  • A Bridge to the Stars – 2005 (Hunden som sprang mot en stjärna – 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 – 1998)

For younger children[edit]

  • The Cat Who Liked Rain – 2007

Film and television[edit]

Mankell has also written original screenplays for television.

  • Etterfølgeren (1997)[33]
  • Labyrinten (2000) TV mini-series
  • Talismanen (2003) TV mini-series (co-written with Jan Guillou)
  • Unnamed Ingmar Bergman docudrama (2012) TV mini-series[34]


Film and television adaptations[edit]

Awards and honours[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ http://henningmankell.se/Platser/Sveg/
  2. ^ http://www.st-andrews.ac.uk/news/archive/2008/Title,22097,en.html
  3. ^ http://www.welt.de/fernsehen/article2682891/Henning-Mankell-schreibt-zwei-Tatort-Krimis.html
  4. ^ http://www.welt.de/die-welt/vermischtes/hamburg/article5514723/Ironie-macht-die-Dinge-oft-einfacher.html
  5. ^ http://www.svd.se/kulturnoje/nyheter/bergmans-liv-blir-tv-drama_3977337.svd
  6. ^ http://www.gp.se/kulturnoje/1.1726705-bergmanserie-kan-fa-ny-regissor
  7. ^ http://www.gp.se/kulturnoje/1.2259442-del-1-en-strid-ur-livets-perspektiv-
  8. ^ http://www.dagbladet.no/kultur/2007/08/30/510512.html
  9. ^ http://www.dagbladet.no/tekstarkiv/artikkel.php?id=5001010046786&tag=item&words=mankell%3Bakp
  10. ^ Augustsson, Lars Åke; Hansén, Stig (2001). De svenska maoisterna (in Swedish). Gothenburg: Lindelöw. ISBN 91-88144-48-8. 
  11. ^ http://www.nrk.no/programmer/radioarkiv/her___na/1900095.html
  12. ^ http://www.klassekampen.no/30296/article/item/null/et-ensomt-fartoey
  13. ^ http://pulsemedia.org/2009/06/27/ending-apartheid/
  14. ^ http://pulsemedia.org/2009/06/27/ending-apartheid/
  15. ^ http://www.haaretz.com/print-edition/news/will-the-real-henning-mankell-speak-up-1.367761
  16. ^ http://pulsemedia.org/2009/06/27/ending-apartheid/
  17. ^ Flood, Alison (31 May 2010). "Author Henning Mankell aboard Gaza flotilla stormed by Israeli troops". The Guardian. 
  18. ^ Robert Booth; Kate Connolly; Tom Phillips; Helena Smith (2 June 2010). "Gaza flotilla raid: 'We heard gunfire – then our ship turned into lake of blood'". The Guardian. 
  19. ^ http://www.swedishwire.com/politics/4841-henning-mankell-may-halt-hebrew-book-version-
  20. ^ http://www.haaretz.com/print-edition/news/will-the-real-henning-mankell-speak-up-1.367761
  21. ^ "Crime writer Mankell will be on next Gaza aid flotilla". Yahoo! News (Stockholm). Agence France-Presse. 25 May 2011. Retrieved 26 May 2011. Swedish crime writer Henning Mankell will take part in the next international flotilla that will attempt to bring aid to Gaza at the end of June, organisers said Wednesday. 
  22. ^ "Freedom Flotilla 2 to sail for Gaza by end of June". Almasry Alyoum. MENA. 10 May 2011. Retrieved 26 May 2011. The international steering committee of Freedom Flotilla 2, a planned convoy of ships aiming to bring material and moral support to the besieged people of Gaza, announced on Tuesday that the flotilla's intended launch date is to be postponed until June. 
  23. ^ http://henningmankell.com/africa/chimoio/
  24. ^ "Africa. Chimoio". Henningmankell.com. 
  25. ^ "Henning Mankell". Dagens industri. 
  26. ^ pronounced Ue-stad ("ue" as in "muesli" and "a" as in "father" – not pronounced as in the recent 2008 UK television adaptation
  27. ^ The Pyramid'
  28. ^ Wroe, Nicholas (20 February 2010). "A Life in writing: Henning Mankell". The Guardian.
  29. ^ Inspector Wallander.org website
  30. ^ http://www.newsdesk.se/pressroom/leopard/pressrelease/view/ny-kurt-wallander-roman-slaepps-i-augusti-289969
  31. ^ http://svenska.yle.fi/nyheter/artikel.php?id=156906
  32. ^ http://www.theguardian.com/uk/2009/dec/27/wallandar-hemming-mankell-tv-books-detective
  33. ^ http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0542520/
  34. ^ http://www.screendaily.com/news/production/europe/mankell-to-develop-ingmar-bergman-drama/5009243.article
  35. ^ http://www.colombine.se/forfattare?query=mankell
  36. ^ http://www.henningmankell.se/Teater/Pjäser

External links[edit]