Writer Spotlight: Henning Mankell

I recently moved from my beloved home Cape Town, South Africa to the city of Maputo in Mozambique.  Knowing how much I love to read a friend of mine suggested I read Kennedy’s Brain by Henning Mankell because parts of it are set in Mozambique.  I discovered that Mr Mankell resides in Maputo for half the year and it is for this reason, interest piqued, that my Featured Author posts begin with Henning Mankell.

Henning Mankell, born February 3rd 1948 in Stockholm, Sweden, is a novelist as well as playwright and publisher.  He is known for his crime fiction and thrillers, particularly his Kurt Wallander series.  Mankell has lived in Sweden, Norway, Zambia, Mozambique and other African countries and was invited to run the Teatro Avenida in Maputo, Mozambique where he continues to work.  As a young man he was a left wing political activist strongly opposing the Vietnam war, South African Apartheid and the Portuguese colonial war in Mozambique.  Mankell is an avid charity donor and recently donated 15 million swedish kronor to the SOS Children’s Villages to build a village in Mozambique for homeless children.  Mankell has also created his own publishing house, Leopard Förlag, which supports young talents from Africa and Sweden.

Mankell’s Bibliography

Crime Fiction:

Kurt Wallander Series:

Faceless Killers

The Dogs of Riga

The White Lioness

The Man that Smiled


The Fifth Woman

One Step Behind


The Pyramid

The Troubled Man

Linda Wallander Series:

Before the Frost


The Return of the Dancing Master (2004)

Kennedy’s Brain (2007)

The Man from Beijing (2010)

Other Fiction (translated into English):

The Eye of the Leopard

Chronicler of the Winds

Son of the Wind (to be released in 2012)



Italian Shoes

Children’s Books:

Books about Sophia Series:

Secrets in the Fire

Playing with Fire

Fury in the Fire

Joel Gustafson Series:

A Bridge to the Stars

Shadows in the Twilight

When the Snow Fell

The Journey to the End of the World

Mankell’s Awards and Honours:

1991 Swedish Crime Writers’ Academy, Best Swedish Crime Novel Award for Faceless Killers

1991 The Nils Holgersson Prize for A Bridge to the Stars

1992 The Glass Key Award For Best Nordic Crime Novel: Faceless Killers

1993 Deutscher Jugendliteraturpreis for A Bridge to the Stars

1995 Swedish Crime Writers’ Academy, Best Swedish Crime Novel Award for Sidetracked

2001 Crime Writers’ Association Gold Dagger for Best Crime Novel of the Year: Sidetracked

2005 Gumshoe Award for Best European Crime Novel: The Return of the Dancing Master

For more on Henning Mankell visit his official website:  www.henningmankell.com


Philosophers & Books that Changed the Way we Perceive the World

This post by Glyn Hughes, which I came across on Squashed Philosophers, is a condensed list of the prominent philosophers and their books which have changed the way we think and value the world today.  I found it very interesting and so let’s revisit the thoughts of the greats and see if we can take new meaning from old words for today’s world – a world vastly different from theirs.

Henry D Thoreau’s “It is never too late to give up our prejudices…” particularly resonated with me given current issues and circumstances.  It’s also never too late to read the classics…

Squashed Philosophers:  The Books which Defined the Way we Think Now by Glyn Hughes

Thanks to Glyn Hughes for this insightful post!

Please visit the Squashed Philosopher’s website in support of this information:


You can download some of the above mentioned texts at the following website:      www.earlymoderntexts.com

2009 LA Times Book Prize Finalists

The Los Angeles Times recently announced the 2009 Book Prize finalists within 10 categories of writing which include; biography, current interest, fiction, graphic novel, history, mystery/thriller, poetry, science/technology, young adult literature and the Art Seidenbaum Award for First Fiction.  The book prizes will be awarded on the 23rd of April 2010.

Here, I have included a selection of categories and their finalists:

Heroic Measures by Jill Ciment
The Man in the Wooden Hat by Jane Gardam
Blame by Michelle Huneven
A Short History of Women by Kate Walbert
A Happy Marriage by Rafael Yglesias

Art Seidenbaum Award for First Fiction
An Elegy for Easterly by Petina Gappah
Tinkers by Paul Harding
American Rust by Philipp Meyer
In Other Rooms, Other Wonders by Daniyal Mueenuddin
Everything Ravaged, Everything Burned by Wells Tower

Bury Me Deep by Megan Abbott
The Hidden Man by David Ellis
Black Water Rising by Attica Locke
A Darker Domain by Val McDermid
The Ghosts of Belfast by Stuart Neville

To read the full LA Times article and view all categoreis and finalists please visit the website:


2009 Costa Book of the Year Winner

The 2009 Costa Book of the Year was awarded to Christopher Reid for his poetry collection; A Scattering.

A Scattering is said to be a poetic tribute to Reid’s late wife, Lucinda Gane who passed in 2005.

The Costa Book Awards Press Release had this to say about the award winner’s work:

“Following the judging, Josephine Hart, chair of the final judges, said: “Out of a personal tragedy, Christopher Reid has written a masterwork which has universal power. Austere, beautiful and moving – we all felt this was a book we would want everyone to read. Packed full of unforgettable lines – A Scattering is a remarkable piece.”

For more information please read the full press release on the Costa Book Awards website:


2010 Edgar Award Nominees

The Edgars, named after the famous Edgar Allan Poe, are presented every year by the Mystery Writers’ of America.  Some of our most beloved mystery writers have won this award; Raymond Chandler, John le Carré, Dick Francis, and Frederick Forsyth.  Here are the 2010 Edgar Award Nominees:

2010 Best Novel Nominees:

The Missing by Tim Gautreaux

The Odds by Kathleen George

The Last Child by John Hart

Mystic Arts of Erasing All Signs of Death by Charlie Huston

Nemesis by Jo Nesbø, translated by Don Bartlett

A Beautiful Place to Die by Malla Nunn

2010 Best First Novel (by an American Author) Nominees:

The Girl She Used to Be by David Cristofano (Grand Central Publishing)

Starvation Lake by Bryan Gruley (Simon & Schuster – Touchstone)

The Weight of Silence by Heather Gudenkauf (MIRA Books)

A Bad Day for Sorry by Sophie Littlefield (Minotaur Books – Thomas Dunne Books)

Black Water Rising by Attica Locke (HarperCollins)

In the Shadow of Gotham by Stefanie Pintoff (Minotaur Books)

2009 Costa Book Award Shortlist & Winners

The shortlist for the 2009 Costa Novel & First Novel Awards was released in November 2009 and is as follows:

Costa Award: First Novel Category Shortlist

· The Finest Type of English Womanhood by Rachel Heath

· John the Revelator by Peter Murphy

· Beauty by Raphael Selbourne

· The Girl with Glass Feet by Ali Shaw

Costa Award: Novel Category Shortlist

· Family Album by Penelope Lively

· Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel

· The Elephant Keeper by Christopher Nicholson

· Brooklyn by Colm Toibin

The 2009 Costa Awards Category Winners were announced in January of this year and are as follows:

2009 Costa Novel Award Winner

Colm Toibin Brooklyn

Judges: “Poised, quiet and incrementally shattering – we all loved this book and can’t praise it highly enough.”

2009 Costa First Novel Award Winner

Raphael Selbourne Beauty

Judges: “Pitch perfect on every level – we loved this book.”

Keep on the look-out for the Costa Awards’ Overall Winner to be announced shortly.

Review: Niffenegger’s The Time Traveller’s Wife

I recently watched the movie; The Time Traveller’s Wife after having read the book – thank goodness!  I will be honest and say that the movie does no justice to the beauty and elegance of the novel.  One particular point you’ll notice is that the movie is so condensed a version of the book that you feel it goes way too quickly and the result is confusion.  If you are interested in this story read the book: The Time Traveller’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger.audrey n time travellers wife

It was the most beautiful love story I have read in a very long time.  In fact, I cannot think of any novel that has better portrayed the intricacies of a romantic relationship.  Both Clare and Henry are such different and independent people yet they find peace together under very strange circumstances.  They accept each other fully and it is evident that their love for each other is unerring.  Audrey has woven an intricate fabric of a plot to tell us this love story through the experiences of a woman and her time travelling partner.  They meet each other in the past, present and future.  But don’t yawn yet because this love story is not without speed bumps – it is this point which makes the novel so great because having a time travelling partner arouses relationship problems that I can only begin to list.

It is one of those thought provoking books which also tugs your heart strings and leaves you wondering if such things as time travelling are really impossible and how people might deal with this phenomenon as well as integrate a time traveller into their lives. Enjoy it!

lilolia review rating 5 stars excellent


Review: Stieg Larsson’s Millennium Trilogy

I have always savoured the December holidays as a time for reading. Some of you in the Northern Hemisphere might enjoy this same activity over Christmas as the weather turns cold and cosy. What could be better than snuggling into an armchair beside the fire in the middle of winter? I live in the Southern Hemisphere where Christmas is characterised not by snow but by endless sunshine. And what did I find myself reading by the side of the pool? Stieg Larsson’s trilogy:

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, The Girl who Played with Fire & The Girl who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest. When they first came out I wasn’t exactly dying to read them but I have a Swedish friend who came to visit me and I was suddenly intrigued as to why these books had become so popular.

It is worth mentioning straight away that it’s not advisable to read these books as standalone novels. The stories are direct continuations of the previous one and you would miss out on so much if you skipped or jumped around. Essentially the three novels tell one long story concerning Lisbeth Salander who is a well-rounded character with special skills. She is an intriguing woman with an unbelievable story to tell along side a cast of equally interesting and full characters.

Stieg has created a marvellous story that will keep you reading until the last page of the last book. He has included many interesting details about Sweden and its democracy. I don’t like spoiling books for others so I’m not going to tell you what it’s specifically about but there was definitely a recurring theme of Freedom of Speech and freedom in general. An interesting detail is that just after handing over the manuscripts for all three novels their author, Stieg Larsson, passed away.

They were refreshing novels and fall within my recommended reads.

lilolia review rating 4 stars great

Review: The Garden of Evil by David Hewson

I recently read ‘The Garden of Evil’ by David Hewson which is the sixth novel in his Nic Costa Italian Crime series.  I thoroughly enjoyed it as The Garden Of Evil (Nic Costa, #6)Hewson (a British author) continues to captivate with his in depth knowledge of architecture, Italian cities and art.  ‘The Garden of Evil’ won best mystery of 2008 in the American Library Association’s annual genre awards.

This particular story deals with Roman aristocracy, a secret cult called The Ekstasists and Caravaggio’s art and life.  The novel is a well crafted story whose crimes are original and thought provoking.  We begin with murder in an art studio only to find that there are many more victims sealed within the walls of the studio, a discovery that is made only after Costa suffers a great loss and he is thrown into an investigation so bewildering you will barely be able to guess at the ending.

Within this novel Hewson gives life to the structure and layout of Rome as well as keen insight into the past and present of this cosmopolitan city which forms the setting for the story.  He describes clearly the mentality of the aristocracy and shows what these people feel themselves entitled to do.  Hewson’s characters are full and dynamic, he leaves you with people you feel you know after only the first few pages have been turned, he weaves the components of aristocracy, art and crime together so well you can’t help but feel as if he had told you a true story – Hewson is the king of realistic fiction.

This book not only leaves you guessing until the very end but it also leaves you to contemplate the depth of human nature and how life and people are not as uniform as stereotypes would have us believe.  Hewson has a gift – the ability to show you more than one point of view, convincingly, as well as reminding us that often what seems straight forward generally is not.  You can’t help but learn something from his novels and if you’re unsure of what exactly was fact and what was fiction, you can turn to the author’s note and he clarifies between truth and invention.

David Hewson provides great reading and here are the rest of the titles from the Nic Costa Italian Crime series;  1) A Season for the Dead, 2) The Villa of Mysteries, 3) The Sacred Cut, 4) The Lizard’s Bite, 5) The Seventh Sacrament, 6) The Garden of Evil and 7) Dante’s Numbers.  I recommend this series to any and all who appreciate; a well crafted and original crime novel, great style and characterisation as well as intriguing facts and details from a world past and present.


lilolia review rating 5 stars excellent