Crime writer Henning Mankell, the creator of inspector Kurt Wallander, who really put the city of Ystad and the region around it on the literary map (also happens to be my home area) dies aged sixty-seven. He had been struggling with cancer for some time but remained active as a writer. I saw an interview with him on the tv in August and he looked and sounded in good shape at the time.
Mankell was more than an inspired crime writer, he began as a novelist writing about the lives of common people and about conflicts in dangerous lines of work like mining and at sea (he returned to non-crime storylines in the new century) and some of this fed into the universe of Kurt Wallander; the string of crime novels also touches on social and ethnic conflicts, and the pace of change in society after the end of the cold war. For many years he lived part-time in Africa, working with a theatre in Maputo, Mocambique and getting involved with the local cultural scene and with efforts to heal the wounds left by apartheid and colonialism. The region had been on the frontline of the war between white South Africa and the ANC for many years.
Henning Mankell was always interested in issues of migration and exile and a vivid, focused figure of public debate. One of the first white writers to bring black Africans living in Sweden into his books - if he had been granted a couple more years I'm fairly sure he would have been writing about and discussing the current migrant and refugee crisis and the political and ethical issues around it, both in fiction and as a journalist and essayist. He will be missed by many millions in and outside of Scandinavia. R I P Henning.