With his new novel out in the UK, Mankell spoke to The Guardian and the Irish Times about expecting Swedish riots, finding inspiration in tax archives and still not missing Wallander.
Mankell’s new novel, A Treacherous Paradise, tells the story about the Swedish woman Hanna Lundmark who finds herself running one of the biggest brothels in East Africa. The inspiration came from an unexpected place.
“Normally it is very difficult to say exactly when a novel starts,” Mankell says to The Guardian, “but in this case I can say exactly what happened. It was an early morning some 10 years ago in Maputo. I was in the theatre and a friend of mine – a Swedish scientist who was working in the Portuguese colonial archives – came to me and said, ‘Hey, Henning, I have found something very strange.’ Then he told me that in the tax archives at the beginning of the 20th century, there had been a Swedish woman who had been one of the biggest taxpayers, and she was the owner of the largest brothel in the town. She came from nowhere, owned the brothel for three years, then disappeared. I found this story enormously intriguing and tried to find out more about her, but it was impossible, so in the end it became a story about the little we know and a lot we don’t know.”
Regarding the Swedish riots in May and June, Mankell says to Irish Times:
“When you read the press outside of Sweden, it seemed to say this was something new, which is not true. In the last 10 years we have had riots in Stockholm, Gothenburg and Malmo, but the world press didn’t interest themselves. Everyone [in Sweden] was expecting this to happen because we have the same problem they have in London or Paris, of a small community of young children immigrants that don’t feel welcome in their own country.”
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