Beautiful yet slightly spooky lakes and birch tree forests form part of the natural setting in Henning Mankell’s Swedish detective series featuring Ystad detective Kurt Wallander. (Image by HWL)
Those who know us will know of our, admittedly tragic, fixation with the fictitious detective that is Henning Mankell‘s Kurt Wallander. What they may not know is that this fixation prompted a summer holiday in Skane, Sweden… Visitor’s attempting to undertake a similar pilgrimage can check out this (exhaustive) site dedicated to all things Wallander/Skane. We hope our photos might inspire your own travels…
It’s hard to say what makes Wallander such an endearing character: grumpy, isolated, impatient, sceptical, angry and hopeless… The characteristics that would make Wallander so unlikeable in person, also render him humane. In his weakness and pain we see ourselves, but for the grace of God go I… It’s Wallander’s humanity and the sense of melancholy imbued in the Swedish landscape rather than the convoluted plots and intrigues, that gives Mankell the crown of Scandanavian crime. (If you will permit us a side rant, the BBC TV production of Wallander totally missed the humanity in Kurt, concentrating only on dysfunction; we recommend the original Swedish version by Yellow Bird which is not only more faithful to the characters, it also acts as a compliment to the book series, the British series simply replicates them.) In the event you haven’t read them, other Swedish crime writers worth trying are: Maj Sjowall and Per Wahloo, Hakan Nesser and of course, the ubiquitous Stieg Larsson. (If you find those too cheerful, head north to Iceland’s Arnaldur Indridason. )
Mariagatan: the street where Wallander lives for all of Henning Mankell’s novels except for the final installment ‘The Troubled Man’. It is here that he lives in his dysfunctional bachelor flat, occasionally day dreaming about getting a dog and moving to a better life by the sea. (Image by HWL)
Would-be Wallanders should watch out for Polish ferries, there could be anything on board. Contraband, people smugglers, serial killers and duty free vodka; just about anything can be found in Ystad Harbour. (Image by HWL)
… our all time favourite books set in NYC.
“You are not the kind of guy who would be at a place like this at this time of the morning. But here you are, and you cannot say that the terrain is entirely unfamiliar, although the details are fuzzy.” - Bright Lights, Big City
Jay McInerney captures the crazy money era of 80’s Wall St in this spiral of drugs, desperation and deception. (Possibly the only book ever written about a fact checker in the publishing industry.)
The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay by Michael Chabon: an epic and occasionally surreal tale of about comic books and graphic art set against the backdrop of the Second World War, Jewish migration and Mcarthyism. Cameo appearances include Salvador Dali and Orson Welles. Romance is also involved.
Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safran Foer: Unusual and endearing tale about family, memory, loss and grief through the eyes of a child (a 9 year-old self-described inventor, jewelry designer and astrophysicist) in NYC post September 11.
“If you really want to hear about it, the first thing you’ll probably want to know is where I was born, and what my lousy childhood was like, and how my parents were occupied and all before they had me, and all that David Copperfield kind of crap, but I don’t feel like going into it, if you want to know the truth.”- Catcher in the Rye by J.D Salinger.
Holden Caufield escapes his phoney school and runs away to New York. The ultimate teen novel, it’s a classic coming of age tale with a sense of pathos.