Henning Mankell (born 3 February 1948) is a renowned Swedish crime writer, occasional children's author and dramatist, best known for a series of mystery novel starring his most iconic creation, Inspector Kurt Wallander.
Mankell was born in Stockholm, Sweden, and grew up in Sveg (Härjedalen) and Borås (Västergötland). Mankell's father, Ivar, was a judge and his grandfather, also called Henning Mankell (1868—1930), was a composer. At the age of 20 he already started a career as author and assistant director at the Riks Theater in Stockholm. In the following years he collaborated with several theaters in Sweden.
In his youth Mankell was a left-wing political activist and a strong opponent of the Vietnam War, South African apartheid and Portugal's colonial war in Mozambique. In the 1970s Mankell moved from Sweden to Norway and lived with a Norwegian woman who was a member of the Maoist Communist Labor Party of Norway. Mankell took part in the party's activities but never himself joined the party.
After living in Zambia and other African countries, Henning 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.
Mankell recently donated 15 million Swedish kronor to SOS Children's Villages for a village for homeless children in Mozambique. Mankell has said he's giving away half of his income to charity causes.
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 audio book, a project that Milberg had worked on. The episodes will be broadcast in Germany in 2010.
Mankell is set to work on a screenplay for Sveriges Television about his father-in-law, the famous movie and theatre director Ingmar Bergman during 2010 and the series will be produced in four one-hour episodes. Production is planned for 2011. Mankell pitched the project to Sveriges Television and will include international co-producers/financiers.
Mankell participated in the Protests of 1968 in Sweden, protesting 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. During his stay in Norway, he got in contact with the Norwegian Workers' Communist Party and took an active part in their actions.
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. Considering the environment the Palestinian people live in, he continued, it is not astonishing that "some decide to become suicide bombers....it is strange that there are not more of them". "The Israelis" would "destroy lives" and the Israeli State is not to have a future in his current form, as a two-state solution would not reverse the "historical occupation". He claimed not to have encountered antisemitism during his journey, just "hatred against the occupants that is completely normal and understandable".
In 2008, speaking about nationalism and Norway (a country formerly forced into a Union with Sweden), he stated that "Nationalism is almost spiteful in nature. It can sometimes be glimpsed as something brown behind the waving Norwegian flags."
Henning Mankell was on board the MS Sofia, one of the boats which took part in the aid flotilla which tried to break the Israeli embargo of the Gaza strip. Following the Israeli armed forces' boarding of the flotilla on the morning of 31 May 2010, in which 9 flotilla members were killed, Mankell was deported to Sweden. He subsequently called for global sanctions against Israel. He is currently considering halting the Hebrew translations of his books.
Kurt Wallander is a fictional police inspector living and working in Ystad, Sweden. In the novels, he solves shocking murders with his colleagues. The novels have an underlying question: "What went wrong with Swedish society?" 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 collection of short stories about Wallander's past. Ten years after The Pyramid, Mankell published another Wallander novel, The Troubled Man, which he said would definitely be the last in the series.
Mördare utan ansikte (1991; English translation by Steven T. Murray: Faceless Killers, 1997)
Hundarna i Riga (1992; English translation by Laurie Thompson: The Dogs of Riga, 2001)
Den vita lejoninnan (1993; English translation by Laurie Thompson: The White Lioness, 1998)
Mannen som log (1994; English translation by Laurie Thompson: The Man Who Smiled, 2005)
Villospår (1995; English translation by Steven T. Murray: Sidetracked, 1999)
Den femte kvinnan (1996; English translation by Steven T. Murray: The Fifth Woman, 2000)
Steget efter (1997; English translation by Ebba Segerberg: One Step Behind, 2002)
Brandvägg (1998; English translation by Ebba Segerberg: Firewall, 2002)
Pyramiden (1999; short stories; English translation by Ebba Segerberg with Laurie Thompson: The Pyramid, 2008)
Den orolige mannen (2009; English translation by Laurie Thompson: The Troubled Man, 2011)
Innan frosten (2002; English translation by Ebba Segerberg: Before the Frost, 2005)
Danslärarens återkomst (2000; English translation by Laurie Thompson: The Return of the Dancing Master, 2004)
Kennedys hjärna (2007; English translation by Laurie Thompson: Kennedy's Brain, 2007- U.S. Release)
Kinesen (2007; English translation by Laurie Thompson: The Man from Beijing, 2010)
Fångvårdskolonin som försvann (1979)
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: Son of the Wind, (forthcoming in 2012)
Djup (2004); English translation by Laurie Thompson: Depths, (2006)
Italienska skor (2006); English translation by Laurie Thompson: Italian Shoes, (2009)
Books about Sofia
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
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
The Cat Who Liked Rain — 2007
Film and television
Mankell has also written original screenplays for television.
Unnamed Ingmar Bergman docudrama (2012) TV mini-series
Talismanen (2003) TV mini-series (Co-written with Jan Guillou)