Wednesday, March 02, 2005

Mysterious and Swedish.

In the Washington Post, a profile of Swedish mystery writer Henning Mankell. I have been sizing up his books for a few weeks now, but decided to reduce my backlog a little before I picked them up. K., who knows from mysteries, hasn't told me anything about him -- perhaps because he's not a chick, but perhaps because the WaPo explains that he's huge in Europe but not very well known here.
"Americans seem to have a problem," writes a reviewer in Publishers Weekly, "with the austere qualities of his prose and his heroes, and the rather bleak atmosphere that pervades much of his work."
He sounds like a sunny chap.
"Are you a pessimist?" someone asks.

"We live in a terrible world," Mankell says, grimacing.
Equally so his children's books:
He also writes children's books. In one, he says, a cat disappears and never comes back. The book differs from most children's books about vanishing cats. Ordinarily, the pets return and there is a happy ending.

Not in Mankell's dark, out-of-the-ordinary story. When the book was published in Sweden, he says, "it created a scandal." Some critics thought Mankell's view of this planet as an uncertain vessel, full of loneliness and loss, may have crept into the tale a little too much.

None of his children's books, it turns out, have been translated for Americans.

I found Mankell rather forbidding at first, but stick with him - he's very rewarding & real humanity shines through
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