What It Means to Be A Human Being

Book - 2017
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A stunning and poignant autobiographical look at the myriad experiences that shape a meaningful life, by the bestselling author of the Kurt Wallander mysteries.

In January 2014, Henning Mankell received a diagnosis of lung cancer. Quicksand is a response to this shattering news--but it is not a memoir of destruction. Instead, it is a testament to a life fully lived, a tribute to the extraordinary but fleeting human journey that delivers both boundless opportunity and crucial responsibility. In a series of intimate vignettes, Mankell ranges over rich and varied reflections: of growing up in a small Swedish town, where he experiences a startling revelation on a winter morning as a young boy; of living hand-to-mouth during a summer in Paris as an ambitious young writer; of his work at a theater in Mozambique, where Lysistrata is staged in the midst of civil war; of chance encounters with men and women who changed his understanding of the world. Along the way, Mankell ponders the meaning of a good life, and the critically important ways we can shape the future of humanity if we are fortunate enough to have the choice. Vivid, clear-eyed, and breathtakingly beautiful, Quicksand is an invaluable parting gift from a great man.
Publisher: New York : Vintage Books, a division of Penguin Random House LLC, 2017
Copyright Date: ℗♭2016
ISBN: 9780525432159
Branch Call Number: B M3145
Characteristics: 303 pages ; 21 cm


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Sep 20, 2018

Henning Mankell and I were born in the same year so his meditations on fear of dying and the joy of life were particularly resonant for me. I have been reading the Wallander mysteries and other Mankell works for almost 30 years. I was first introduced to Scandinavian mysteries back in the 1960's with the Martin Beck series by Maj Sjöwall and Per Wahlöö. For many years it was difficult to find translations of Scandinavian authors - now thankfully they are readily available. Scandinavian authors tend to be "dark" in their writing, but perhaps any author would be if you spent half your life in almost endless night. It was sad to read this book with early hope about a new cancer diagnosis in 2014. The book was not published in the U. S. until after his death, so it cannot be read here with a sense of hopefulness for Mankell himself. I do not believe the book was strictly edited as the 67 essays / thoughts / wishes were Mankell's literary will an testament. He wrote as ideas and memories came to him. In the first section I grew impatient with him as he returned again and again to the necessity of protecting nuclear waste for 100,000 years. This should be, of course, a concern for all responsible humans, but there is little that I or anyone can do to guarantee the safety of the world in thousands of years. It was his concern, so why did the recurring idea make me angry? Then I decided that, though nuclear waste was a real concern for him, I believed it to be a metaphor for what he, more immediately, was facing and what I and all humans face. We have no control over death unless we choose suicide. He had eliminated this choice in order to cause less pain for loved ones. Mankell had as much chance of controlling his death as he did of protecting the world for 100,000 years. I stopped feeling angry and read about his regrets, joys, fears, accomplishments and hopes as a fellow septuagenarian. I recommend the Wallandar mysteries highly ( also the two DVD series - English and Swedish ) and this book of last thoughts of a better man than most of us. Kristi & Abby Tabby

May 10, 2017

There are parts of this book that I found to be profound and magical as well as parts that were murky and unapproachable to me. Also, by accident, I discovered that he hadn't had the book fact checked, which surprised me. I thought most authors verify the authenticity of their material.


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