Saturday, May 14, 2016

Mankell's Last Post

Henning Mankell, author of the Wallander crime stories and the masterful novel Italian Shoes, died of cancer last October.

Before he died, he wrote a series of articles for The Guardian about dealing with the disease.

The last of these, "Eventually, the Day Comes When We All Have to Go," appeared the week of his death.

The 67-year-old wrote with candor about his chemotherapy and his third year with an "incurable companion."

"How has my life changed?" Mankell asked. 

"Despite being spared most of the side-effects, except for the ever-present fatigue that reduces my energy to about half of what it used to be, I usually don’t notice the tumour I’m carrying in my left lung. At the moment, it is neither growing nor shrinking. I’ve had times of feeling short of breath but not any more. Sometimes I have to remind myself that I’m afflicted with cancer, as it doesn’t make itself known."

Mankell in fact believed he could stave off death, and that gave him some hope.

"There are, of course, dark times. A deep darkness of worry, loneliness, fear. Nights when I wake up and cold winds sweep in. I know I share this with everybody who is affected by severe illness."

His final words were stoic, just like his characters.

"Eventually, of course, the day comes when we all have to go. Then we need to remember the words of the author Per Olov Enquist: “One day we shall die. But all the other days we shall be alive."

If you've never had the pleasure, read one of his novels.
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