22 March 2016

The Shadow Girls, by Henning Mankell

This novel is not like others I've read by Mankell. It is not a crime novel, at least not in the usual sense, and does not feature a policeman named Wallander as the main character. Instead, the main character is a Swedish poet, Jesper Humlin. Humlin is, as the story sets out, not a very sympathetic character. He is, for one thing, overly concerned with the state of his tan.

Humlin's life is not without its problems: he has a troubled relationship with his own mother, a girlfriend who wants him to have a child with her without delay--he's not so enthusiastic, a publisher who doesn't listen to his protests when the publisher tells him that he will next be writing a crime novel (ha, ha, Mankell), and a stock broker who has cheerfully guided him into bankruptcy.

Into Humlin's life, in a semi-comic series of accidents, come three young girls, refugees who are illegally in Sweden. As Humlin learns their stories, and begins spending time trying to help them write, the novel takes on a new direction. In the end, things are different.

A review in The Telegraph,

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