Mankell confronts his own mortality with moving intelligence and honesty, meditating on vast spans of time that cannot be fully apprehended by intellect or imagination, from the last ice age to the ones to come, and from the earliest civilisations to modern society. Above all he is preoccupied with the terrible legacy of his own time: the mountain cathedrals built to house nuclear waste, which have transformed the cave from the birthplace of art to the keeper of secrets best forgotten.
“I am in the middle of something,” writes Mankell. It is a poignant and polyvalent statement from a man in limbo yet still grappling with the essential question of his existence.
Quicksand is published by Harvill Secker (£18.99).