Henning Mankell is best known as a mystery and crime writer. His famous character, Inspector Kurt Wallander became an international sensation after also being adapted to both films and television serials. Henning too has become popular worldwide with his gripping and full of atmosphere stories set in Africa. Henning’s global fan following has enforced the translation of his books into forty-five languages.
Mankell is a Scandinavian author born in Stockholm, Sweden on February 3, 1948. He grew up in Sveg, northern Sweden reading books about African explorers and their expeditions. Henning’s grandmother taught him to read and write at the age of 6. He went to Paris at the age of 16 where he worked as a merchant seaman. After leaving work in 1966, Henning settled in Paris and went back to Stockholm one and a half year later. He worked as a stagehand and wrote his first play, The Amusement Park.
At the age of 20, Mankell was a writer and assistant director at the Riksteater in Stockholm. Also during his younger years, Henning was a politically involved youngster and worked as an activist against the Vietnam War, South African apartheid and Portugal’s colonial war in Mozambique. He also worked with the Maoist Communist Labor Party in Norway.
Shortly after the publication of his first book, The Stone Blaster in 1973, Henning accomplished his lifelong dream of visiting Africa. Since then Henning has lived in Zambia and other African countries. In 1986 he became the artistic director of Teatro Avenida in Maputo. Till now Henning spends at least 6 months a year in Maputo writing and working at the theater.
The year 1990 saw the comeback of Henning Mankell and he released two books in the same year after a silent period of 6 years. The Eye of the Leapord was a hunting novel based in Sweden and Zambia while A Bridge to the Stars was the first book of the series about Joel. This book won the Rabén & Sjögren award for best children book in the same year. Faceless Killers was published a year after the first Kurt Wallender book. Faceless Killers received immense national recognition and also a number of awards. The White Lioness, third book in the detective series became an international bestseller giving a global recognition and fan base to Kurt Wallander. Menkell continued writing other novels along with the Wallander series and in 1991, a second book of the Joel series, Shadows in Twilight was published. Having written 9 Kurt Wallander books, The Troubled Man, to be published in 2011 is said to be Henning’s last novel of the Wallander series.
Although the brilliant detective series is his claim to fame, Henning Mankell has authored many other publications. His various other fictions and books for children including Books about Sofia and the Joel Gustafsson series are popular among young readers. Mankell also has to his credit writing various screenplays for television.
Henning’s services to literature have been praised by a number of prestigious awards including Best Swedish Crime Novel Award (1991),The Nils Holgersson Prize (1991), The Glass Key Award (1992), Deutscher Jugendliteraturpreis (1993), Best Swedish Crime Novel Award (1995), Swedish Astrid Lindgren Prize (1996), Crime Writers’ Association Gold Dagger (2001),Corine Literature Prize (2001), Gumshoe Award (2005), Corine Literature Prize (2008).