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After the Fire (2015)

by Henning Mankell

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: Fredrik Welin (2)

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4202260,327 (3.75)9
Fiction. Literature. HTML:Henning Mankell's last novel about an aging man whose quiet, solitary life on an isolated island off the coast of Sweden is turned upside down when his house catches fire.
Fredrik Welin is a former surgeon who retired in disgrace decades earlier to a tiny island on which he is the only resident. He has a daughter he rarely sees and his mailman Jansson is the closest thing he has to a friend, and to an adversary. He is perfectly content to live out his days in quiet solitude.
One autumn evening, he is startled awake by a blinding lightâ??only to discover that his house is on fire. With the help of Jansson, he escapes the flames just in time wearing two left boots. Dawn reveals that everything he owns is now a smoldering pile of ash and his house is destroyedâ??forcing him to move into an abandoned trailer on his island. A local journalist, Lisa Modin, who wants to write a story about the fire, comes into his life. In doing so, she awakens in him something that he thought was long dead. Soon after, his daughter comes to the island with surprising news of her own. Meanwhile, the police suspect Fredrik of arson because he had a sizable insurance claim on his house. When Fredrik is away from the archipelago, another house goes up in flames and the community realizes they have an arsonist in their midst. After the Fire is an intimate portrait of an elderly recluse who is forced to open himself up to a world he'd left b
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» See also 9 mentions

English (14)  Catalan (2)  French (1)  Norwegian (1)  Italian (1)  German (1)  Spanish (1)  Dutch (1)  All languages (22)
Showing 1-5 of 14 (next | show all)
Muy lenta, se hace aburrida. ( )
  amlobo | Sep 24, 2023 |
I’m not a fan of translated novels…more often than not the text is a little stilted, as the translator is usually a native of the language from which the novel is being translated, English, therefore being the second language. This, from Swedish, wasn’t too bad, although the translator got into a pickle with the past tenses. However, the most annoying thing about this book was that every pronoun ‘I’ was in lower case, every word at the start of the sentence and many proper names didn't start with capital. Is this a Swedish thing? And why wasn’t it picked up by an editor? Five per cent in and I was seriously irked by this, but, as they say on Mastermind, I started so I finished.

I found this book rather dreary and lifeless…like most of the characters. Fredrik Welin is a disgraced retired doctor living alone on an island in the Swedish archipelago. His very mundane and routine life is dramatically overturned when his house is completely burnt down and he loses everything. When the police can find no cause, he is suspected of arson, not really considering that he’s lost his home (one that had been in his family for a number of generations) and just about all his possessions. With only the clothes he was standing in, he then has to deal with his terrible loss, the tragedy heightening his loneliness and purpose in life. Ultimately, of course, he wants to find out who set fire to his house and why.

Fredrik is neither likable nor unlikable. He is bland, a bit feeble and devoid of any personality, so I found it very hard to feel sympathy...or anything...for him. Many of his neighbourhood islanders were the same. As for his daughter (who he’d only recently come to know), she was really rather obnoxious.

Mankell…I realised halfway through the book…was the author of the Wallander novels. I guess if you’re a fan of those, you might like this, the author’s final work before his death in 2015.

But this wasn’t for me…I found myself wanting to shake the characters to get some passion, a spark of life out of them.

Alas, this left me as cold as the icy sea Fredrik Welin swam in every morning.
( )
  Librogirl | Mar 13, 2022 |
I wanted to read this book because I have been a fan of the Wallender novels for many years. I knew this was going to be different in tone and style from those earlier works but my expectations were still high.

The book not only lived up to my expectations it exceeded them. Although there is a mystery to be solved within the story it is not the front and central aspect of this book. It is more about an elderly man coming to terms with the fact that his life is reaching its conclusion and reminiscing about all the events that have led to him living out his last days isolated on a small island.

The writing is tight, ascetic and profound with an insightfulness that only comes with age and experience. ( )
  Prairieblossom | Feb 12, 2021 |
This ~12 hour book seems to move very slowly. It's full of lovely meditations on aging and death, much like his last Wallender book. That said, i't's not so much a cop novel as the reflections of an old man. So, it's all about Fredrik, the main character, and his neighbors on an island. After the Fire is Henning Mankell's last novel published posthumously. ( )
  buffalogr | Jul 30, 2020 |
A slow, meandering tale of one man’s journey to find the truth about who set his house on fire and his past. ( )
  caanderson | Jun 28, 2020 |
Showing 1-5 of 14 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (21 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Henning Mankellprimary authorall editionscalculated
Delargy, MarlaineTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed

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Much he has learned who knows sorrow. --The Song of Roland
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To Elise
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My house burned down on an autumn night almost a year ago.
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Fiction. Literature. HTML:Henning Mankell's last novel about an aging man whose quiet, solitary life on an isolated island off the coast of Sweden is turned upside down when his house catches fire.
Fredrik Welin is a former surgeon who retired in disgrace decades earlier to a tiny island on which he is the only resident. He has a daughter he rarely sees and his mailman Jansson is the closest thing he has to a friend, and to an adversary. He is perfectly content to live out his days in quiet solitude.
One autumn evening, he is startled awake by a blinding lightâ??only to discover that his house is on fire. With the help of Jansson, he escapes the flames just in time wearing two left boots. Dawn reveals that everything he owns is now a smoldering pile of ash and his house is destroyedâ??forcing him to move into an abandoned trailer on his island. A local journalist, Lisa Modin, who wants to write a story about the fire, comes into his life. In doing so, she awakens in him something that he thought was long dead. Soon after, his daughter comes to the island with surprising news of her own. Meanwhile, the police suspect Fredrik of arson because he had a sizable insurance claim on his house. When Fredrik is away from the archipelago, another house goes up in flames and the community realizes they have an arsonist in their midst. After the Fire is an intimate portrait of an elderly recluse who is forced to open himself up to a world he'd left b

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