The Eye of the Leopard is a first-rate psychological thriller, delving deep into the mind of a man lost in an unknown world, and is Mankell's finest non-crime novel yet.
Henning Mankell (1948-2015) became a worldwide phenomenon with his crime writing, gripping thrillers and atmospheric novels set in Africa. His prizewinning and critically acclaimed Inspector Wallander Mysteries continue to dominate bestseller lists all over the globe and his books have been translated into forty-five languages and made into numerous international film and television adaptations: most recently the BAFTA-award-winning BBC television series Wallander, starring Kenneth Branagh. Driven by a desire to change the world and to fight against racism and nationalism, Mankell devoted much of his time to working with charities in Africa, including SOS Children's Villages and PLAN International, where he was also director of the Teatro Avenida in Maputo. In 2008, the University of St Andrews conferred Henning Mankell with an honorary degree of Doctor of Letters in recognition of his major contribution to literature and to the practical exercise of conscience. www.henningmankell.com
Best known for his Kurt Wallander mysteries (Firewall, etc.), Mankell alternates between the coming-of-age story of Hans Olofson, a provincial Swede who grows up in a motherless home with an alcoholic father, and Olofson's later experiences in Zambia in this fine, unsentimental exploration of vastly different cultures. Having come to believe that Sweden holds nothing for him, Olofson decides to go to Africa to visit a mission, prompted by the strangest woman in town, Janine, who's shunned because of an operation that left her with no nose. Olofson stays in Zambia for 18 years, running a struggling egg farm and dealing with a culture he never fully understands. Mankell is terrific at sketching the cultural differences between the West and Africa--in particular, "the anguish of the independent states." Sweden and the West may be more pragmatic and less superstitious than Africa, but greed and corruption are universal. Still, it's the character of Olofson and his complex, unsettling relationship with the Zambians and Africa that make this disquieting novel so compelling. (May) Copyright 2008 Reed Business Information.
As in his recent Kennedy's Brain, the author of the best-selling Kurt Wallander mysteries here turns his eye to the differences between Africa and the West, juxtaposing personal struggles with the growing pains of a newly independent state. When Hans Olofson arrives in Zambia in 1969, he is ostensibly fulfilling a dead friend's greatest wish. In fact, he is fleeing the only life he knows, his motherless childhood and alcoholic father, his failed studies and stifling social circumstances, and the loss of all those closest to him. The narrative alternates between Olofson's coming of age in Sweden and his increasingly difficult life in Zambia, where he runs an egg farm. Even after 18 years, Olofson does not fully grasp his position as a white mzungu (rich man) among the native blacks and how inappropriate his Western ideas are in a country so completely resistant to them. As the narrative continues, the paranoid fever dreams that open the novel are horrifyingly revealed to be all too plausible given the political situation. Dark and atmospheric, insightful and compelling, this book is appropriate for large fiction collections.--Karen Walton Morse, Univ. of Buffalo Libs., NY Copyright 2008 Reed Business Information.
"He writes simply and gracefully...Mankell at his best" * Daily
"Brilliant...exceptionally well written...a white knuckle page-turner... Mankell translates the intrigue of the genre he has become so famous for into an existential whodunit: a profound and searing investigation into the loneliness of man" * Sunday Telegraph *
"A tense tale whose violence and uneasiness contrast to great effect with Olofson's deadpan narrative tone and Mankell's spare prose" * Spectator *
"The writer [is] clear about his authorial target, which is to expose the myth of Swedish neutrality with a savage portrait of its foreign aid system" * Guardian *
"The Eye of the Leopard is a thriller of the mind: a chilling journey into the depths of fear, alienation and despair" * Sunday Telegraph *