October 2010 Indie Next List
“Mankell jumps across genres to give us this haunting and heartbreaking novel of an African boy ripped from his Kalahari desert homeland and taken to Sweden in the late 19th century. Only if Daniel can learn to walk on water can he realize his hope to get home. An amazingly original, meritorious novel.”
— Deal Safrit, Literary Book Post, Salisbury, NC
In 1878, aspiring entomologist Hans Bengler travels to the Kalahari Desert in hopes of making a name for himself by discovering a previously unknown insect or two. There he encounters a boy named Molo, an orphan whose family has been killed by European colonists. Bengler “civilizes” the boy by rechristening him Daniel, teaching him to pray to the Christian god, and finally bringing him home to Sweden. The boy is bewildered and awed by the new land, cut off from his culture and the spirits of his family, and Bengler finds that raising a child across a great cultural divide is more difficult than he imagined. A psychological drama of one boy’s struggle to find his place in a new land far from home, Daniel is a compelling novel for our modern globalized world.
About the Author
Henning Mankell is Sweden's bestselling author worldwide. His novels have been translated into thirty-seven languages with more than 30 million copies in print. The winner of many prizes, he divides his time between Sweden and Maputo, Mozambique, where he has worked as a director at Teatro Avenida since 1985. Ebba Segerberg has translated four of Henning Mankell's novels. She teaches at Washington University in St. Louis, where she lives.
“Historical touches mingle with elements of magic realism to convey themes dear to the author’s heart.” —Los Angeles Times
“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