Henning Mankell, ‘Wallander’ Author, Dead at 67

The Swedish author’s crime novels are the inspiration behind a successful BBC TV series starring Kenneth Branagh

Last Updated: October 5, 2015 @ 8:26 AM

Henning Mankell, the Swedish author best known for writing the “Wallander” crime novels, died Monday. He was 67.

“He died in his sleep early this morning in Göteborg,” a statement posted on his website reads.

His “Wallander” book series was adapted into the successful BBC TV series starring Kenneth Branagh, who praised the author in a statement to BBC.

“In life and in art, Henning Mankell was a man of passionate commitment,” he said. “I will miss his provocative intelligence and his great personal generosity. Aside from his stringent political activism, and his decades of work in Africa, he also leaves an immense contribution to Scandinavian literature.”

In January 2014, Mankell revealed that he had been diagnosed with cancer after going to see an orthopedic surgeon for what he assumed was a slipped disk. However, tests revealed he had a tumor in his lung and in his neck.

“It was a catastrophe for me,” he told US radio station NPR last year. “Everything that was normal to me up to that point was gone all of a sudden. No one had died of cancer in my family. I had always assumed I’d die of something else.”

Mankell’s novels have sold over 40 million copies and have been translated into over 40 languages, according to Leopard, the publishing company which Mankell co-founded in 2001.

The “Wallander” series was first adapted for Swedish TV in 2005 with Krister Henriksson, and first aired on the BBC in 2008. Over the next few years, it won over six BAFTA TV awards, including for best drama. It is about a detective in Sweden’s southern province of Skane.

Mankell was born in February 1949 and became a big part of student activism and political debate at a very young age. At age 20, he wrote his first play, “The Amusement Park,” which was followed by his debut novel, “The Stone-Blaster,” soon after.

In Mozambique, he ran a theater company and spent his time fighting against AIDS. He was also active in the “memory books” project, which encourages parents with HIV to record their stories both for their children and future generations.

He is survived by his wife of 17 years, Eva Bergman, and his son, Jon Mankell.