domingo, 19 de abril de 2009

Book will never die

"Books will never die"
Henning Mankell is known the world over and his central character, Kurt Wallander, has garnered many fans. The author has now attended the book fair in Abu Dhabi for the first time and talked to us about books, writing, and his next project.

Henning Mankell was born in Stockholm in 1948 and grew up in a small village in northern Sweden. He became best known as an author for his crime series based around the Swedish detective Kurt Wallander. Mankell has also written numerous other novels, children's books and plays. His books have been published in 33 countries so far. Today, Henning Mankell lives in Sweden and Maputo, Mozambique, where he runs the theatre "Teatro Avenido".

Frankfurter Buchmesse: Mr. Mankell, what are your first impressions of the Abu Dhabi International Book Fair?Henning Mankell: When you enter the fair, you cannot tell that you are at an Arabic book fair. It looks very modern and has a very international feel. I’m glad to be here, even though I do not have many readers in the Arabian world. But you should not forget that there is quite a high rate of illiteracy in these countries.I have never been to this part of the world before and I was very much looking forward to coming to Abu Dhabi. I wanted to see the state of literature here.
What really encourages me is to see how ambitious young women are. This is something we should not take for granted since some of the neighbouring countries are becoming rather more backward in that respect.
How important are books to you?I grew up in a very isolated place in Sweden. Books gave me the opportunity to travel around in spite of that - in my mind, you know. And even though we today have the internet and a great amount of pictures, I am not worried about the future of books. Books will never die.
What will change is the distribution. E-books mean that I can be in Africa and instantly download a book. The bookstores may disappear, and that is a shame for many, but it does not mean the end of books.
Do you have a favourite book?I love the stories of "1001 Nights". It is one of the most important books in my life and formed my first impression of the Arabian world. I have a dream that every child in the world should read "1001 Nights", because if every child does that, we will become much closer culturally.Rumour has it that there will soon be another Wallander novel.Yes, that is true. The novel is already complete. I just have to finish a few more pages. Wallander has been your constant companion for more than 20 years now.
Does he sometimes get on your nerves? No, I do not have a problem with him and I cannot understand authors who complain about their literary figures. After all, he is fiction and only exists in my head.
What is your next writing project?I am currently writing a play about Charles Darwin and his captain Robert FitzRoy. It is a play about the journey aboard the "Beagle" - you might know the story. For five years, they travelled together and lived in a very confined space. And it was only after 14 days at sea that they had their first conflict, which was very much a conflict between science and religion. You see, FitzRoy was a man with a very strong belief and Darwin was a scientist. I really believe that this play is not only about the past, but about the present as well, because that is exactly the conflict we still have today.
Do you consider writing a challenge?Yes, I do. Producing art is difficult - it has to be. If you feel that it is easy then something must be wrong. I find everything I do quite difficult.Will you ever stop writing?No, never. I am afraid I would die as soon as I stopped writing

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