The creator of the Kurt Wallander police inspector series wrote this book which I can honestly describe as beautiful. Despite his use of a simply worded narrative, Mankel infuses it with a quiet human spirit that grew as I read. Fredrik, the main character in this novel, is an aging Swedish doctor whose life decisions have brought him to a lonely retirement. He claims to prefer isolation, but his actions contradict him. A strange fire that consumes his home drives him to look inside himself like never before.

There were times, during my reading, that I would tire of lateral references and descriptions that struck me as tangential. But looking back, I concluded that in this novel the author writes akin to the way our brain operates, by observing multiple details or happenings even as it zeroes in on a person or thing that drives the story forward. In this way Mankel unveils the doctor’s musings but also his genuine worries and fears about aging.
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After the fire is a fine piece of reading. It is an intelligent tale about growing old.

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