In January 2014 I was informed that I had cancer. However, Quicksand is not a book about death and destruction but about what it means to be human. I have undertaken a journey from my childhood to the man I am today, writing about the key events in my life and about the people who have given me new perspectives. About men and women I have never met but wish I had.
I write about love and jealousy, about courage and fear. And about what it is like to live with a potentially fatal illness. This book is also about why the cave painters 40,000 years ago chose the very darkest places for their fascinating pictures. And about the dreadful troll that we are trying to lock away inside the bedrock of a Swedish mountain for the next 100,000 years.
It is a book about how humanity has lived and continues to live and about how I have lived and continue to live my own life. And, not least, about the great zest for life which came back when I managed to drag myself out of the quicksand that threatened to suck me down into the abyss.
©2016 Henning Mankell (P)2016 Random House AudioBooks
The outlook that Henning had on life was amazing even in his last days. Such a wonderful storyteller I will miss him dearly.
This is not a typical autobiography: more a philosophical potpourri interwoven with episodes in the author’s life. The whole book is suffused with melancholy thoughts of death and fears about the deadly legacy of nuclear waste stored underground by us that may harm the people living thousands of years in the future after inevitable ice-ages have obliterated Northern Europe. He frets over how a warning could be given to them of the dangers of the radiation that takes 100,000 years to dissipate. He contrasts our legacy to the future with discoveries of the skilled ivory carvings and cave paintings of those who lived tens of thousands of years ago.
The author’s words are coloured by his diagnosis in 2014 of metastatic cancer with a poor prognosis. He died in 2015. The book is full of thought-provoking stories from the author’s experiences of living in foreign countries and most particularly extended periods spent in Africa. Not a happy listen, but I finished it feeling moved and more aware of moral issues about our relationships wth fellow human beings and the damage to the environment that we leave to future generations.
Although not written as a chronological autobiography the stories he tells and thoughts he shares give us an insight into a man who has lived a full life with courage and exercised high moral values.
The narration is excellent.
Gripping, profound and emotive
I find Quicksand unique as a memoir and therefore difficult to draw a comparison.
I would say that it stirred me. Having not been exposed to Mankell`s crime writing, I did not know what to expect; I was profoundly surprised.
Firstly, I have to commend Sean Barrett for a pleasant , slow-paced reading on the audio download. A for Mankell's writing, this is the best book I have listened to for a while. I am not a fan of Scandinavian noir, however, I purchased the audible download on the strength of the Guardian review. It is hard to compare this memoir with anything I have read before; it is a bit of everything that mattered to Mankell. This includes his thoughts on cancer, fracking, human rights, and time, or lack of it in his own case. This book is of particular interest to anyone who plans to write their own memoir as there is much to be learned from this accomplished writer.
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