cover image Daniel


Henning Mankell, trans. from the Swedish by Steven T. Murray, New Press, $26.95 (288p) ISBN 978-1-59558-193-8

Set in the 1870s, this earnest and heartbreaking story opens with the unsolved murder of a mentally retarded Swedish girl, but this isn't a mystery in the mode of Mankell's international bestselling Kurt Wallander novels (Firewall, etc.). Hans Bengler, a Swedish entomologist, travels across southern Africa in search of undiscovered insects. In the desert, he finds an orphaned native boy, whom he adopts on impulse and calls Daniel. Bengler brings Daniel back to Sweden to exhibit him for money. A link eventually emerges between the girl's murder and Daniel's story, which dramatically illuminates the evils of colonialism (Bengler notes that he "had to make the important decisions for these black people") and the cultural chasm between Europeans and Africans. 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. (Nov.)