BBC Radio 4

Society & Culture

Led by James Naughtie, a group of readers talk to acclaimed authors about their best-known novels


Henning Mankell

July 4th, 2010

Episode 294 of 438 episodes

James Naughtie and readers talk to the Swedish thriller writer Henning Mankell about his novel Sidetracked, featuring his detective Kurt Wallander. Henning Mankell's character is now in the pantheon of fictional detectives. Like Conan Doyle before him, Mankell receives letters from readers addressed to Kurt Wallander. They think he's real because he's like us. He's a detective who suffers angst about the way the world is changing, readers witness his depressions and his difficult relationships with women. Mankell calls it the 'diabetes syndrome'. Can you imagine, he says, James Bond stopping mid-action for a shot of insulin? Mankell was already a well known writer in Sweden before he found worldwide fame with Wallander. He created Wallander to write about the changes in Swedish society. Always known for its generous welfare state and its tolerance, Mankell was dismayed to see a certain xenophobia developing with race crimes against immigrants in the early nineties. For him, the best way to explore this issue was within a crime story, and so he needed a detective to solve the mystery. Recorded with a group of twenty-five readers in the studio, Bookclub with Henning Mankell is a lively and entertaining discussion that belies any stereotype of Swedish moroseness - with a writer considering his best known creation. James Naughtie chairs the programme. August's Bookclub choice : 'What I Loved' by Siri Hustvedt. Producer : Dymphna Flynn.

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