Swedish crime writer Henning Mankell dead

UPDATED: Henning Mankell, Sweden's most famous crime writer and the creator of the fictional detective Wallander has died, aged 67, his publishers confirmed on Monday.

Swedish crime writer Henning Mankell dead
Henning Mankell photographed in June. Photo: Nora Lorek/TT

Mankell, who had been suffering from cancer for more than 18 months, “passed away peacefully” in the western Swedish city of Gothenburg on Sunday night, publishing house Leopard said on its website.

His dozen novels about Swedish detective Kurt Wallander have sold more than 40 million copies worldwide and have been translated into 40 different languages.

“Henning Mankell was one of the great Swedish writers, loved by readers here at home and around the world,” said his publishers on Monday.

Swedish author Henning Mankell. Photo: Adam Ihse/TT

His books about Wallander, the dour detective based in the southern town of Ystad, have also been turned into TV series in Swedish as well as in English, played by actor Kenneth Branagh in the BBC version.

Wallander also wrote numerous plays and children's books. In 1996, he was awarded the Astrid Lindgren Prize for excellence in children's writing.

In recent years, Mankell also made headlines as an activist and campaigner who was active in the Free Gaza movement.

The author's friend and colleague Dan Israel, at Leopard, told the Expressen tabloid on Monday that Sweden had lost “one of its greatest Swedish authors” of all time.

“His work was so infinitely greater than just being a crime writer. He wrote plays, debate books, everything. He was always driven by the same burning passion to give people the tools to understand, first and foremost, their reality,” he said.

His comments were echoed by many across Sweden and the rest of the world as tributes came pouring in for the Swedish novellist and playwright.

“It feels today as if it's my little brother who has passed away. I would like to hug him,” Krister Henriksson, who starred as 'Kurt Wallander' in 32 of the Swedish movies made about the detective, told the Svenska Dagbladet newspaper.

Henning Mankell, left, and Krister Henriksson as 'Kurt Wallander'. Photo: Jessica Gow/TT

Mankell first revealed he had cancer a year and a half ago , saying it was discovered when he underwent treatment for a slipped disc.

“A few days later… I had it in black and white: it was serious. I had one tumour in the back of my neck and one in my left lung. The cancer could also have spread to other parts of my body,” he wrote at the time.

He was supposed to have made an appearance at Gothenburg's annual literature conference only last month, but had to cancel because of his illness.

In an interview with regional newspaper Göteborgs-Posten in late September, he said his years in Moçambique, where he lived for many years, had taught him to come to terms with the end of life.

“In Western culture we have a tendency to place death beyond life, while in Africa you still see death as the only tangible part of life,” said the writer.

Mankell leaves a widow Eva Bergman, 70, the daughter of Swedish cinema great Ingmar Bergman, and his son Jon.


New Swedish Wallander ‘out of the question’

Swedish writer Henning Mankell, who died on Monday, was adamant that his characters, including detective Kurt Wallander, should never be resurrected by a another writer, his publisher has said.

New Swedish Wallander 'out of the question'
Kenneth Branagh in the UK TV version of Wallander. Photo: Yellowbird/TT

“It is out of the question that there would be other books featuring Wallander,” said Dan Israel, the Swedish publisher with whom Mankell founded the Leopard publishing house in 2001.

Israel stressed that he would therefore oppose any attempt at reviving Mankell's characters in new novels.

In doing so he takes the opposite tack from the publishers of the 'Millennium' series. The first trilogy was created by Swedish writer Stieg Larsson.

A fourth book in that series, by another crime writer, was published earlier this year, over a decade after Larsson's sudden death in 2004, amid great controversy and without the approval of his long term partner.

Similarly since James Bond creator Ian Fleming died in 1964 there have been a string of new Bond books produced.

READ ALSO: Tributes as Swedish crime writer Mankell dies

The best-selling Mankell, whose detective Kurt Wallander character became a worldwide phenomenon, died aged 67 on Monday after a battle with cancer.

Mankell wrote and published a final book wrapping up the Wallander series, “The Troubled Man”, in 2009.

His publisher Israel said he would protect the literary heritage of his friend and collaborator, while adding that he remained unaware of the details of Mankell's will.

“Nothing can be approved without my agreement,” he said.

Mankell was working on a book before his death which is just a draft and unpublishable, he added.

Mankell, who divided his time between Sweden and Mozambique, was a leading light in the Nordic police thriller genre.

His Wallander character became the star of successful TV drama series in both Swedish and English.

“Without him, the Nordic police novel wouldn't have more than an echo abroad…  but he was much more than a thriller writer,” said Israel.

As well as his 12 Wallander books, Mankell also wrote another 30 works, including 10 children's books.

Some 40 million copies of his books have been sold worldwide.