The last book authored by the late Henning Mankell will be published by Harvill Secker on 4th February 2016.
A "memoir-of-sorts", Quicksand is a collection of essays, written by Swedish crime-writer Mankell in the months preceding his death, that was part inspired by the cancer diagnosis from which he died on October 4th.
Exploring his diagnosis and coming to terms with the fact he might be dying, the essay collection also covers topics as varied as art, jealousy, Ice Ages past and present, and the future of our planet. In Henning's own words, the book is much less about death and destruction than "what it means to be human".
He wrote: "In January 2014 I was informed that I had cancer. However, Quicksand is not a book about death and destruction, but about what it means to be human. I have undertaken a journey from my childhood to the man I am today, writing about the key events in my life, and about the people who have given me new perspectives. About men and women I have never met, but wish I had.
"I write about love and jealousy, about courage and fear. And about what it is like to live with a potentially fatal illness."
Henning Mankell’s UK editor at Harvill Secker told The Bookseller that the translator for Quicksand, Laurie Thompson, also died unexpectedly from cancer, after delivering the translation to the publishers. Thompson (1938 – 2015) was a freelance translator of Swedish literature and a founding member of SELTA (Swedish-English Literary Translators’ Association), which published around 60 translations, including books by Mankell, Håkan Nesser, Stig Dagerman and Mikael Niemi.
Mankell devoted much of his time to working with charities in Africa, including SOS Children’s Villages and PLAN International, and his prize-winning and critically acclaimed Inspector Wallander Mysteries continue to dominate bestseller lists all over the globe. His books have been translated into 45 languages and made into numerous international film and television adaptations: most recently the BAFTA-award-winning BBC television series "Wallander", starring Kenneth Branagh.
Of the writer, theatre director and active human-rights campaigner’s enduring legacy, senior editor Alison Hennessey said: “Kurt Wallander was very like Henning himself. He really cared deeply about the cases he had been given and he wanted to solve them, much in the same way that Henning wanted to shed a light on the injustices in the world.
“I think that’s what drove him a lot of the time: trying to use his position to bring these stories to a much wider audience, and I think this is why they have commanded such a large readership. There’s the crime element of the Wallander books but there’s also something deeper going on. It’s not just about entertainment but a real desire to inform and educate."
Hennessey added that there was a "very nordic sensibility to the writing" which she described as "a kind of bleakness and bareness to it that I think people find very invigorating."
"Wallander is such a striking, interesting, idiosyncratic detective and people loved him but also there are his books set in Africa, his non-fiction, his children’s books. I think he had such a range of works that he was interested in that I think they will continue to be read and enjoyed in the future."