The Shadow Girls [a.k.a. Tea-Bag]
This book is called Tea-Baig in Swedish, French and Spanish, but not in English where it is called The Shadow Girls. (Maybe because of the sexual innuendo?) And not yet published or even advertised on amazon. This is the first novel of Henning Mankell I read (I picked it from my daughter’s bedside book-pile). Meaning I had never read a detective Wallander book… The author is a fairly interesting character, deeply involved in cooperation with Africa through various cultural projects. Including spending half the year in Maputo, Mo[c/z]ambique, directing a local theatre, Teatro Avenida. This puts the book into perspective, even though I read it prior to getting all those items of information.
Even though I did not find Tea-Bag perfect in terms of its story, in the sense that it is more allegorical than realistic, esp. with regards to the unlikely involvement of the Swedish writer into the women writing class, and the subsequent involuntary “rescue” of those women, it told the story of three (legal and illegal) migrant women in a highly personal and convincing manner. The different writing styles of those women seems [to me] well-rendered in the book. The part about Tania, the migrant from Russia (or Latvia?), reminded me very vividly of Pudhishtus, or Purge, I reviewed last year, about a young woman fleeing a prostitution ring and arriving at her grand-mother’s farm re-awaking a dreary past for the latter. (I found Purge deeper than Tea-Bag in that much more than the awful plight of the young woman was at stake. But Tea-Bag is, in a way, more optimistic about human nature than Purge…) I quite liked the ending of the book, with the demonstration that good will alone (of the writer) is not going to change (for the better) the situation of those migrant women and that their future is still to be drawn… Not a book with an obvious message, then, more of bearing witness to the hard facts. With a long-lasting impact. Recommended.