Quicksand by Henning Mankell

Review published on March 7, 2017.

In January 2014, Henning Mankell was informed that he had cancer. Quicksand is not a book about death, but rather about what it means to be human. Mankell writes about love and jealousy, courage and fear, and about what it is like to live with a fatal illness. It is a book about how humanity has lived and continues to live, and about how Henning lived his own life.

When Henning Mankell was diagnosed with cancer, he started thinking about his life and his death. He says we need to be able to see backwards before we can see forwards i.e. a rear view mirror effect. He says there were moments in his life and, I guess, all of our lives when, by chance, he could have changed his life’s direction. I suppose hindsight gives us the opportunity to identify these chances and maybe wonder what taking a different direction would have meant for our lives.

Told in a series of short chapters, the author takes the reader through his childhood to adulthood. We begin with his cancer diagnosis and then work backwards, only returning to the future after his cancer treatments and chemotherapy are finished and he is awaiting the results from his doctor.

The knowledge that he died very soon after finishing the book makes it especially poignant. I am a big fan of the author’s Wallender books and am pleased to have been given this book to review. It has given me an insight into the man behind the novels. He obviously faced his death with great dignity.

This would be a good book for a book group as it would promote discussion on the various issues raised.

Dorothy Flaxman 4/5

Quicksand by Henning Mankell
Vintage 9781784701567 pbk Feb 2017

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