Quicksand by Henning Mankell

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Quicksand by Henning Mankell

“Quicksand is an extraordinary book, mixing the intimate detail of memoir (the incidents from his childhood and early life are told beautifully, and with wonderful economy) with the moral beliefs of a man whose concern with social justice has dictated the pattern of his mature years. At times Mankell can sound like a latter-day Seneca, and he brings the same gravitas and moral authority to bear on his arguments: if, as he says, “there is no court that can take action on a global scale and prosecute the criminals responsible for failing to tackle poverty and starvation with all available means”’ then “that should force all of us to become involved and accept responsibility”. Exiguum est ad legem bonum esse: anyone who enjoys the privilege of time and health must do more than simply be good according to the law. Meanwhile, as the day of reckoning approaches and Mankell waits to hear if he has “a breathing space”, he asks himself what the happiest event of his life had been. That incident should not be disclosed here, but it is typical of Mankell’s seriousness – appropriate and exemplary in an age of celebrity gossip and all manner of frivolous pursuits – that he makes the choice he does. As we come to the end of what has been a deeply serious, and highly uplifting book, the story he tells, of one day in Maputo, is profoundly moving in its choice of hope over despair, and its resolution never to be ‘robbed of one’s happiness’.” The Gaurdian