Swedish writer, pro-Palestinian activist Henning Mankell dies at 67
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Swedish writer, pro-Palestinian activist Henning Mankell dies at 67

The author, who was part of the 2010 Gaza flotilla and decried Israeli ‘apartheid’, had been battling cancer

A photo taken on June 1, 2015, of Swedish author Henning Mankell, who died overnight at the age of 67. (AFP PHOTO/TT NEWS AGENCY/NORA LOREK)
A photo taken on June 1, 2015, of Swedish author Henning Mankell, who died overnight at the age of 67. (AFP PHOTO/TT NEWS AGENCY/NORA LOREK)

STOCKHOLM, Sweden — Best-selling Swedish crime writer Henning Mankell, whose detective character Kurt Wallander became a worldwide phenomenon, has died at 67 after a battle with cancer, his publisher said Monday.

The staunchly pro-Palestinian Mankell, who first revealed he had cancer in January last year, “died in his sleep early this morning” in Sweden’s second city of Gothenburg, his publisher Leopard said on its website.

Mankell was known for his rights activisim, and joined the 2010 flotilla trying to break the Israeli blockade on the Gaza Strip.

“You have to act, not just by writing, but by standing up and doing. For me, you cannot call yourself an intellectual if all you use your intellectual gifts for is to find excuses not to do anything. Which, sadly, is what I think a lot of intellectuals do,” he told Britain’s Guardian newspaper after the Gaza flotilla raid.

He said he wanted to create a situation where “Palestinians are not treated like second-class citizens in their own country, a sort of apartheid system.”

Mankell’s collection of dark novels about the Swedish police inspector Wallander brought the author international fame after it was made into a television series by the BBC starring Oscar-nominated actor and director Kenneth Branagh.

“Henning Mankell was one of the great Swedish authors of our time, loved by readers in Sweden and all over the world,” said a statement from Leopard, which Mankell co-founded in 2001.

“Solidarity with those in need runs through his entire work and manifested itself in action until the very end,” it said on its website.

Mankell, who shared his time between Sweden and Mozambique, published more than 40 novels, plays and children’s books, selling around 40 million copies around the world.

The Wallander series itself won numerous awards and contributed to the massive global interest in Scandinavian crime and thriller novels dubbed Nordic noir.

Mankell first revealed he had cancer in a newspaper column in January 2014, saying it was discovered when he underwent treatment for a slipped disc.

“A few days later… I had it in black and white: it was serious. I had one tumor in the back of my neck and one in my left lung. The cancer could also have spread to other parts of my body,” he wrote at the time.

He chronicled his fight with the disease in his final book, “Quicksand: What it means to be a human being.”

Mankell leaves a widow Eva Bergman, 70, the daughter of Swedish cinema great Ingmar Bergman, and his son Jon.

AP contributed to this report

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