Mankell: Whose Troubles Comforted Us

At 67, this isn’t fair. No more Mankell. No more Wallender. And yes, I know the Swedish writer retired his  chief detective inspector with the final book in the series, The Troubled Man, the one I read first, the one that started me on the spare and splendid series. Those of us who loved the moody character always hoped he would return, we couldn’t get enough of Kurt Wallender. We binged on Kenneth Branagh’s “Wallender,” then preferred the Swedish version: Krister Henricksson who to my inner ear and eye best caught the ever-searching, love clumsy policeman.

Mankell. How many thousands of us mourn him; mourn that cancer overtook him too early and so swiftly. The poet Louise Gluck loved him. She wrote Averno inspired by his story about the refugee girl who sets herself on fire in a field in which Wallender tries to help her.  I thrilled to read Gluck’s praise of Mankell whose writing is spare splendor.

Mankell spent half his time in Mozambique where he directed a theater company; the rest in Sweden where he mulled upon its  state. The author’s sensitivity to immigrants’ status, to  social reform was legion. For Mankell, progress was never progressive enough. I read his spare and silent prose and  Tomas Tomas Transtromer resonates: The Baltics. The mystery of those chilly  archipelagos.


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