The Washington Post
Danielby Henning Mankell
In the 1870s, Hans Bengler arrives in Cape Town from Småland, Sweden,
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Henning Mankell is a worldwide phenomenon: his books have been translated into forty languages with more than 35 million copies in print, and both his critical acclaim and fan base only continue to grow. His new novel Daniel is an elegiac, unexpected story that only he could have told.
In the 1870s, Hans Bengler arrives in Cape Town from Småland, Sweden, driven by a singular desire: to discover an insect no one has seen before and name it after himself. But then he impulsively adopts a young San orphan, a boy he christens Daniel and brings with him back to Sweden—a quite different specimen than he first contemplated. Daniel is told to call Bengler "Father," taught to knock on doors and bow, and continually struggles to understand this strange new land of mud and snow that surrounds and seemingly entraps him. At the same time, he is haunted by visions of his murdered parents calling him home to Africa. Knowing that the only way home is by sea, he decides he must learn to walk on water if he is ever to reclaim his true place in the world.
Evocative and sometimes brutal, the novel takes Daniel through a series of tragedies and betrayals that culminate in a shocking act. Mankell tells this indelible story with a ruthless elegance all his own.
The Washington Post
“An engrossing story, with a real sense of pace and adventure, illuminated by empathy with the bewilderment and longing of a clever, lonely child.” —The Independent (London)
“A quiet tragedy.” —The Boston Globe
“Mankell’s fierce instinct for social criticism is admirable.”—The New York Times Book Review
“A writer with the imagination, brains, resources . . . [who] make[s] thoughtful, challenging, exciting, artistic novels.”—The Philadelphia Inquirer
“Mankell is expert at depicting brutal scenes. He’s also adept at getting inside exotic heads like Daniel’s; this book’s greatest strength is imagination. Its second greatest is empathy.” —Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
“Earnest and heartbreaking. . . . Mankell fully understands Daniel's radically different cultural perspective and indelibly captures the boy's longing to return to his homeland and the tragic consequences of his forced exile.” —Publishers Weekly
“A haunting and fascinating story of clashes of culture and race in the nineteenth century as well as a touching, sometimes cruel examination of familial and other human ties.” —Booklist
A haunting novel by the Swedish mystery master, one that proceeds from the indelible to the inscrutable.
Well before Stieg Larsson became a (posthumous) international sensation with his Millennium Trilogy, his countryman Mankell had already sold millions of books in a series featuring Inspector Kurt Wallander (The Dogs of Riga,2003, etc.). Yet he has also written many other novels, with this one differing significantly from his more popular genre work. Published in its first English translation this year, the 2000 novel takes place in the 1870s, when an aimless former medical student named Hans Bengler travels to the African desert in order to discover an insect that he can name after himself. "Whether all this has been a flight from the thoroughly meaningless life of a student or not, it has certainly been a flight from myself," ponders the displaced Bengler of his existential plight. He begins to consider himself a man without a name, on a journey that can't be mapped, without destination. He stumbles upon some semblance of meaning or purpose in the form of a young African orphan, whom he adopts and names Daniel (after considering a number of other names from the Bible). Where the African chapters evoke Joseph Conrad'sHeart of Darkness,the metaphysics seem more like Ingmar Bergman's after Bengler brings Daniel to Scandinavia, teaching him how to be "human" and intending to exhibit him along with the exotic insects he has collected. The novel initially seems much more effective in getting inside Bengler's head than Daniel's, as the latter appears awfully precocious for a boy who turns out to be only nine or ten. The prologue introduces the novel with a mystery—the corpse of a sexually molested girl found in southern Sweden—but by the end the mystery has deepened rather than resolved itself. Ultimately, Daniel finds a soul mate, but loses himself more completely than his "Father" has.
An ambitious, flawed but compelling addition to the Mankell canon.
- New Press, The
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Meet the Author
Henning Mankell is internationally Sweden's most read author. His critically acclaimed Kurt Wallander mysteries are global bestsellers and have been adapted for television as Wallander, the BAFTA Awardwinning BBC series starring Kenneth Branagh. He was awarded the Crime Writers' Association's Macallan Gold Dagger and the German Tolerance Prize and has been a three-time finalist for the Los Angeles Times Mystery/Thriller Book Prize. In 2008, he received an honorary degree from the University of St Andrews. Born in Stockholm in 1948 and raised in a village in northern Sweden, Mankell divides his time between Sweden and Maputo, Mozambique, where he has worked as the director of Teatro Avenida since 1985. Please visit www.henningmankell.com for more information.
Steven T. Murray has translated five novels by Henning Mankell, among many other books. The former editor-in-chief of Fjord Press, he lives in Albuquerque, New Mexico.
- Mozambique, Africa
- Date of Birth:
- February 3, 1948
- Place of Birth:
- Stockholm, Sweden
- Folkskolan Elementary Shool, Sveg; Högre Allmäna Läroverket, Borås
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