There’s a touch of the inevitable with Henning Mankell’s appearances at the Edinburgh International Book Festival and yesterday’s was no exception as the Swedish author had to rush into his event in Charlotte Square Gardens after being trapped in a hotel elevator for over an hour. Once on stage, Mankell recalled his appearance in the literary city of Edinburgh a decade before, when he shared the stage with fellow crime fiction author Ian Rankin. Even then Mankell’s arrival was fraught with suspense and plot twists as he got lost walking through the New Town, just about making it to his own event. Inevitably, as if he was putting words to paper Mankell asked “what will happen next time?”
Unveiling some of the mysteries which surround the writer’s secret craft Mankell told the audience his infamous police inspector was named after… a scramble through a telephone directory. Shedding further light into the literary ways that have shot Wallander to fame Mankell revealed how a spot of bother – namely the inspector’s diabetes, diagnosed after the fourth book – have sweetened his popularity and generated worldwide sympathy.
The author could see how Edinburgh’s best loved detective, Rebus, and his own Wallander would have been friends and how their home towns – Edinburgh and Ystad – are infinitely brighter and more enlightened than the detectives’ dark minds. Numbers of tourists in Ystad are steadily going up and, pretty much like in Edinburgh, the first UNESCO City of Literature, fictional characters draw real people to the city.