SkandiLit

Scandinavian Literature in Translation || Littérature scandinave en traduction

Henning Mankell: The Man from Beijing

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The Man from Beijing
Henning Mankell
Knopf Canada
ISBN 978-0-307-39785-0
16 February 2010
$32.00 in Canada

From the internationally acclaimed author of the Kurt Wallander mysteries comes an extraordinary stand-alone novel — both a mystery and a sweeping drama — that traces the legacy of the nineteenth-century slave trade between China and America.

January 2006. In the small Swedish hamlet of Hesjövallen, a horrific scene is discovered: nineteen people have been tortured and massacred an the only clue is a red silk ribbon found at the scene. Judge Birgitta Roslin has a particular reason to be shocked by the crime: her mother’s adoptive parents, the Andréns, are among the victims. Investigating further, she learns that an Andrén family living in Nevada has also been murdered. Travelling to Hesjövallen, she finds a diary, kept by a gangmaster on the railway built across America in the 1860s, full of vivid descriptions of the brutality with which the Chinese and other slave workers were treated. She discovers that the red silk ribbon found at the crime scene came from a local Chinese restaurant, and she learns that a Chinese man, a stranger to the town, was staying at a local boarding house at the time of the atrocity. The police insist that only a lunatic could have committed such a horrific crime, but Birgitta suspects that there is much more to it, and she is determined to uncover the truth. Her search takes her from Sweden to Beijing and back, but Mankell’s narrative also takes us 150 years into the past: to China and America when the hatred that fuelled the massacre was born, a hatred transformed and complicated over time and that will catch up to Birgitta as she draws ever closer to discovering who is behind the Hesjövallen murders.

Written by Thomas

2009-12-13 at 22:07

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