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The last novel from international crime bestseller Henning Mankell. A brilliant and moving mystery set in the Swedish archipelago.

Fredrik Welin is a seventy-year-old retired doctor. Years ago he retreated to the Swedish archipelago, where he lives alone on an island. He swims in the sea every day, cutting a hole in the ice if necessary. He lives a quiet life. Until he wakes up one night to find his house on fire.

Fredrik escapes just in time, wearing two left-footed wellies, as neighbouring islanders arrive to help douse the flames. All that remains in the morning is a stinking ruin and evidence of arson. The house that has been in his family for generations and all his worldly belongings are gone. He cannot think who would do such a thing, or why. Without a suspect, the police begin to think he started the fire himself.

Tackling love, loss and loneliness, After the Fire is Henning Mankell’s compelling last novel.


The huge number of readers who are devoted to the work of the late Henning Mankell will find in this, his last novel, all the characteristics they value: the observant descriptions of the minutiae of daily life, the gentle melancholy, the careful analysis of relationships (especially between fathers and daughters) and, above all, the inevitability of loneliness and loss

Literary Review

It is very moving and rather beautiful

Sunday Express

This strange, beguiling book...gives closure to a substantial career without becoming maudlin or overly bleak. The waters around Welin’s island may freeze in the winter, but there is human warmth to be found in these pages, along with glimmers of hope and consolation... The bell may have tolled for one of Scandinavia’s finest writers, but his connection to those left behind is unbroken.

Ian Rankin, Guardian

The novel’s atmosphere is bleak and elegiac, suggesting that Mankell wrote it with his own impending death in mind

Joan Smith, Sunday Times

A powerful reminder that [Mankell] was also a literary writer of considerable accomplishment... After the Fire is a life-enhancing novel... a suitable final curtain for a much-missed modern novelist

Barry Forshaw

This profoundly gloomy yet ultimately hopeful novel – the last from the late grand master of Scandinavian noir – revolves around discovering who could have been responsible for this senseless crime

John Williams, Mail on Sunday

After the Fire is full of regret, loneliness and the melancholy of growing old, but there is also hope and love.

The Times

This final novel from Mankell (the Kurt Wallander series), posthumously published in a stunning English translation, questions what happens to a person who has lost everything—and who considers himself too old to rebuild... It’s a skillfully told, exquisitely structured story filled with sharp insights into human nature and unflinching examinations of the complex relationships to which people bind themselves in order to feel a little bit less alone.

Publishers Weekly

A bracing look at a twilight year in the life of an old man who, when confronted daily by perfectly good reasons for giving up altogether, doesn’t so much rise above as plow stoically through them.

Kirkus Reviews

This posthumous translation by Marlaine Delargy, captivating in its delicately wry tone, echoes the seemingly flat reportage of Mankell’s prose: it somehow grabs you and won’t let you go… Mankell’s last novel is an elegiac meditation on old age and impending death… The extraordinary gift of Mankell’s bleak narrative is to make the last months of the life of his depressed and, frankly, unsympathetic and solitary anti-hero, both comforting and even inspiring. It is Mankell’s own candle in the lightless void

Marina Vaizey, Arts Desk

Lovely… Elegiac and steeped in the emptiness of the Swedish landscape

Claire Allfree, Metro

Elegiac and melancholic.

Bethanne Patrick, Washington Post

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Formats & editions

  • Trade Paperback


    October 16, 2017

    Harvill Secker

    416 pages

    RRP $32.99

    Online retailers

    • Abbey's Bookshop
    • Angus & Robertson Bookworld
    • Booktopia
    • Boomerang Books
    • Collins Booksellers
    • Dymocks
    • Books Kinokuniya
    • The Nile
    • QBD
    • Readings
    • Robinsons Bookshop

    Find your local bookstore at booksellers.org.au

  • Hardback


    October 15, 2017

    Harvill Secker

    416 pages

    RRP $45.00

    Online retailers

    • Abbey's Bookshop
    • Angus & Robertson Bookworld
    • Booktopia
    • Boomerang Books
    • Collins Booksellers
    • Dymocks
    • Books Kinokuniya
    • The Nile
    • QBD
    • Readings
    • Robinsons Bookshop

    Find your local bookstore at booksellers.org.au

  • EBook


    October 5, 2017

    Vintage Digital

    416 pages

    Online retailers

    • iBooks
    • Amazon Kindle
    • Booktopia
    • eBooks
    • Google Play
    • Kobo

    Find your local bookstore at booksellers.org.au



The Ocean of Emptiness

Chapter 1

My house burned down on an autumn night almost a year ago. It was a Sunday. The wind had got up during the afternoon and by the evening the anemometer indicated that the gusts measured over twenty metres per second.

The wind was coming from the north and was very chilly in spite of the fact that it was still early autumn. When I went to bed at around half past ten I thought that this would be the first storm of the season, moving in across the island I had inherited from my maternal grandparents.

Soon it would be winter. One night the sea would slowly begin to ice over.

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Also by Henning Mankell

An Event in Autumn
Wallander's First Case
A Treacherous Paradise
The Shadow Girls
The Troubled Man
The Fifth Woman
The Dogs of Riga
The Man From Beijing
Italian Shoes
The White Lioness
Kennedy's Brain
The Cat Who Liked Rain
The Pyramid
Before The Frost
The Return Of The Dancing Master
The Journey to the End of the World
The Eye Of The Leopard
When the Snow Fell
Chronicler Of The Winds
The Man Who Smiled


Make Me
The Girl on the Train
The Curious Incident of the Dog In the Night-time
The Snowman
The Handmaid's Tale
To Kill A Mockingbird
A Gentleman in Moscow
The Heart's Invisible Furies
The Black Book
Dragonfly In Amber
The Narrow Road to the Deep North
The Golden Age
Swing Time
The Bear and The Nightingale
Tiger Men
Fifty Shades Darker
Ready Player One
A Long Way from Home
The Travelling Cat Chronicles