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At 3 p.m. on a Saturday afternoon in 1911, Oskar Johansson is caught in a blast in an industrial accident. The local newspaper reports him dead, but they are mistaken.

Because Oskar Johansson is a born survivor.

Though crippled, Oskar finds the strength to go on living and working. The Rock Blaster charts his long professional life – his hopes and dreams, sorrows and joys. His relationship with the woman whose love saved him, with the labour movement that gave him a cause to believe in, and with his children, who do not share his ideals.

Henning Mankell’s first published novel is steeped in the burning desire for social justice that informed his bestselling crime novels. Remarkably assured for a debut, it is written with scalpel-like precision, at once poetic and insightful in its depiction of a true working-class hero.

Translated from the Swedish by George Goulding

(P)2020 Quercus Editions Limited


One of Scandinavia's finest writers.
Ian Rankin.
He is in the great tradition of those whose works transcend their chosen genre to become thrilling and moral literature.
Michael Ondaatje
A literary writer of considerable accomplishment.
Barry Forshaw, Independent.
In life and in art Henning Mankell was a man of passionate commitment.
Kenneth Brannagh
Mankell is the master.
Viv Groskop
Mankell's fierce instinct for social criticism is admirable.
Mike Peed, New York Times.
Mankell writes with both a social conscience and great humour.
Sarah Compton, Daily Telegraph.
An excellent craftsman.
Joanna Kavenna
Provides a fascinating preview of the psychology of Kurt Wallander who was to become Mankell's most famous creation
Shots Magazine
A very engaging portrait . . . There is a powerful lack of sentimentality to the telling of the story [and] a lovely and genuinely moving love story at the heart of the book.
Liam Heylin, Irish Examiner