Sunday Salon: following Wallander’s footsteps

Skane_385x185_437391a Three of Henning Mankell's Kurt Wallander novels have been filmed by the BBC; the first (Sidetracked) will be shown at 9 p.m. on Sunday 30 November and in the USA earlyish next year. The Times ran a feature in its travel section yesterday about holidays to Ystad, home of the fictional detective. Despite an initial wobble in which Wallander is said to be so similar to Colin Dexter's Inspector E. Morse (incorrect!), being referred to as "Inspector Norse", that the BBC resorted to "doing away with his penchant for classical music" in order to distinguish the two characters (subtlety not being the strong point of the film medium), the article is a fascinating account of the area in which the books are set.

Mankell's eight Wallander novels were published between 1991 and 1998 and have apparently sold more than 25 million copies, dealing with more than 100 killings. The real Ystad has experienced one murder in the past seven years, not the only reason why it is an attractive holiday destination – whether beautiful countryside, mediaeval architecture, or Mankell-related events and activities.

From the Times piece: "Five actors have played him [Wallander] in more than 20 films – it's like James Bond. Rolf Lassgård is the Sean Connery.” Cineteket is next to Ystad Studios, an impressive facility that, on the back of the series, has produced a stream of films including the award-winning Mother of Mine, transforming Ystad into one of Sweden's film-making centres. The inhabitants of the town are proud of its new celebrity: an estimated 15 per cent of its population of 17,000 has appeared as extras in a Wallander production, and many have also benefited from the influx of tourists from Sweden, the rest of Scandinavia and Germany, where Wallander is huge." Apparently there are several tours available for fans of the books; the Times article describes some of the places one can visit, as well as some more general highlights of the region. Here are some links for more information about Ystad, Skane and Sweden.

I've enjoyed the Wallander books, though like most other early fans, I read them out of order as they were translated. I have only read one of them since starting blogging and reviewing books, The Man Who Smiled, an early outing for Wallander, upon its US release. Apparently the author is not going to write any more Kurt Wallander books, though I hope he continues writing about Linda, the detective's daughter and now a police officer herself. (He has, however, just published a collection of short stories, The Pyramid, about Wallander's life before Faceless Killers, the first in the series of novels.)

Inspector Wallander website.

Kenneth Branagh on playing Kurt Wallander.

Guardian review of The Pyramid.