Congress theme: “Open access to knowledge - promoting sustainable progress”

Henning Mankell to speak at tomorrow morning's Plenary Session

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Henning Mankell


To be able to Read and Write - a Question of Dignity

12 August 08:30 - 09:15 | Room: Hall B

Introduction by IFLA President Ellen Tise


Snow, deep snow, is one of Henning Mankell's first memories, and later in life, after choosing to divide his time between Mozambique and Sweden, Henning states:

- I stand with one foot in the snow and one foot in the sand.

Henning Mankell was born in Stockholm on the 3rd of February 1948. When Henning was barely two years old his father, Ivar Mankell, was offered to serve as a court judge in a small town in the north of Sweden called Sveg, where Henning spent his childhood.

Shortly after the death of his father in 1972, Mankell completed his first novel—The Stone Blaster. It tells the story of the workers' union movement and is still in print in Sweden. It is about an old man looking back on his life and on Swedish society and the need for solidarity, a theme that is frequently recurring in Henning Mankell's works and in his life.

Henning Mankell, Italian ShoesHaving published his first novel, Mankell soon realized his dream of going to Africa and arrived in Guinea-Bissau the same year as The Stone Blaster was published.

Since then Henning Mankell has spent a great part of his life on the African continent. After living in Zambia and other countries, he was invited in 1986 to run the Teatro Avenida in the capital of Mozambique, Maputo. Since his arrival in 1986 he is spending at least half the year in Maputo working with the theatre and writing. Living and working in Africa has given Henning Mankell a deepening perspective on both Sweden and Europe.

In 1984 Mankell became the head of Kronobergsteatern in Växjö, Sweden, in which he introduced a new view of what to perform. He wanted to produce only Swedish plays, which turned out to be a success. His work in theatre resulted in him not publishing anything between 1984 and 1990. Henning Mankell, Depths

Faceless Killers–the first novel in the series featuring detective Kurt Wallander–was released in 1991. The novel was an immediate national success claiming several awards. However, it was not until the third book about Wallander, titled The White Lioness, that the series about the detective from Ystad became the international bestseller it is today.

Henning Mankell's tenacity in African issues resulted in his being invited by the Federal President of Germany Horst Köhler in 2005 to join his Partnership with Africa initiative. Among the other participants in this initiative were former Secretary General of the UN, Koffee Annan, and Ghana's President, John A. Kuffour.

In June 2008, Mankell received an honorary doctorate from St. Andrews University. Past recipients of this award have included the Dalai Lama and Bob Dylan. Furthermore, Henning Mankell is currently working on a TV-series about the late filmmaker Ingmar Bergman, as well as writing on a new novel which will be published in autumn 2010.