Archive for Henning Mankell

Italian shoes

Posted in Books with tags , , , , , on February 11, 2012 by xi'an

This week I read a second Henning Mankell novel (lent to me by my daughter), Italian shoes. It is more a tale than a novel, in that characters act and talk as in parables (in the same sense MacCarthy’s The Crossing is a parable). So it is mostly unrealistic. Nonetheless, I enjoyed Italian shoes very much, primarily because of the unappealing central character, a retired surgeon living as a recluse on an island, who is forced to reassess all his previous choices when faced with one, then two, then three strong women. (A very vague connection with Tea Bag at one point, not really of importance.) At some point the story drifts towards some survival communities that reminded me very much of Paasalina, with this weird fascination for closeted communities living in the middle of the forest. This is certainly not the strongest part of the book, but it brings a new major character and a transition to the third part, with yet a new major character and the return to the island which is more like a new beginning…

The Shadow Girls [a.k.a. Tea-Bag]

Posted in Books, Kids with tags , , , on January 22, 2012 by xi'an

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.