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The Eye of the Leopard

3.64 of 5 stars 3.64  ·  rating details  ·  904 ratings  ·  89 reviews
Interweaving past and present, Sweden and Zambia, rich and poor, The Eye of the Leopard is a stunning novel from a modern master.

Hans Olofson arrives in Zambia not long after independence, hoping to fulfill the missionary dream of his recently deceased friend Janice. Africa is a complete shock to Olofson, yet he chooses to stay and make it his home, eventually taking contr
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Paperback, 336 pages
Published April 7th 2009 by Vintage (first published 1990)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 1,573)
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Justin
I spent a year in Zambia, in Kitwe Central Hospital from'75 to '76. I had no real idea of any rumblings of dissatisfaction and ultimate murderous rampages as described in the book. My friends (also docs from Belfast) were in Ndola and I would go on my Suzuki 70cc to see them once in a while. Coming home along that highway in the dark was a bit nerve wracking but purely from maniacal bus drivers, not murderous Natiolalists. If you want to know why President Kaunda always had a big white handkerch ...more
Junying
Aug 13, 2013 Junying rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: everyone
I have never been to Africa.

Yet somehow I feel like as if I have been. Swedish Writer, Henning Mankell took me on a journey to discover that amazing continent, like no other. He showed me the landscape of Africa, more specifically that of Zambia, her people, her culture and customs, corruption and war, problems that were scorching her soul and tearing her apart.

The Eye of the Leopard, Mankell’s book set in his native Sweden and his beloved Africa, where he apparently spent part of his life. This
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Steven Langdon
"The Eye of the Leopard" is the first Henning Mankell book in which his brooding analyses of Sweden, presented in his detective novels, are connected fully to his books set in Africa. Hans Olofson is a young working-class Swede who, almost by chance, shifts himself to Zambia and ends up living there for over 18 years, eventually owning and managing an egg producing operation that supplies the Copperbelt and Lusaka. This could be a novel of the young Swede finding himself, and connecting at a dee ...more
Patricia
The Eye of the Leopard is a book that will stay with you to ponder long after you have read the last page. The life of Hans Olafson, both in Sweden and later in Africa, is one to be envied as well as pitied. Hans lived with his father in Sweden and suffered through his father’s drunken bouts. His good friend Janine he treated with both love and scorn. His best friend leaves him due to an accident that haunts Hans. His decision to leave Sweden and follow the goal of his friend Janine in Africa wa ...more
Tony
Mankell, Henning. THE EYE OF THE LEOPARD. (English translation – 2008). *****. Mankell, known for his Inspector Kurt Wallander crime novels, occassionally writes a novel out of the genre. This is one of them – his latest. Here we have the story of Hans Olofson. We follow Hans’ life from the time he was a boy until he reaches manhood, alternating in time from youth to adulthood. He lives with his father – a drunk ex-sailor – in a remote part of Sweden, where his father makes his living by cuttin ...more
Zhiqing
I believe this is the first novel I ever read by a Swedish writer. If you ever wonder why Africa is what it is now this book really gives a lot of insight to the complex issues Africa faces. I don't think there will ever be an easy solution for the problems Africa faces. Povery, corruption, superstition, racism, hypocricy of missionaries and aid programs, and the terrible misunderstanding between the blacks and the whites who colonized the continent all play a part in the terrible situation Afri ...more
Robyn
I couldn’t help but feel smothered by the sense of helplessness and hopelessness of the characters and their lives. Granted the main character brought this in his personal life, but it was a situation that was all pervading. Add to that the underlying fear and anger, the arrogance and resentment. Such a toxic environment for all. I won’t open up the can of worms regarding colonialism and its effects any further. All I could think of was “Just leave!” but time and again he would be sucked back in ...more
John Rouse
A modern-day Joseph Conrad as far as I'm concerned--a masterpiece. I'm surprised he hasn't received an award for this work.

Most of Henning Mankell’s books take place in Sweden and Europe. The Eye of the Leopard, in contrast, is one of the few where most of the action occurs in Africa, a continent that Mankell travelled to frequently and knew well. First published in Sweden in 1990, it wasn’t until 18 years later that the book reached the english reading public.

It’s the story about protagonist Ha
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Margaret1358 Joyce
Mankell's writing conveys the feel and almost palpable taste and smell of all manner of black and white humanity as well as of wild African animals - from cobras to hippopotamses.
Threaded through is the tale in haunting back and forth time sequences, of a Swedish man's search for personal meaning, laid bare for the reader via inner thoughts, dreams, and terrors --- a Swede in mid 20th C, who buys and lives on an isolated working farm in Zambia.
Mankell has uncanny mastery in conveying the in
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Stephen Hayes
One of the things I've heard a lot about in the past few years is postcolonialism. There's also a lot of talk about postmodernism and postmodernity, but I'm told that that is not really relevant to Africa and that postcolonialism is the thing. And apparently the book to read about postcolonialism is Orientalism by Edward Said, but whenever I look for it in the library someone else has taken it out.

But this novel is set in postcolonial Zambia, at least in part, and got me thinking about the natu
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Kate
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
David Peters
Why I read It
Henning Mankell is one of my favorite authors. I have waited on this a while because it is a departure from his crime fiction and instead focuses on his other passion in life; Africa. Even though it is 19 years old, it was only translated last year and as of yet I haven’t mastered Swedish.

The Good
I like books that open up my horizons a little, especially about other cultures. While I am missing the big picture that ties to the two concurrent stories together – the hero’s childhood i
...more
Josh Duggan
It occurs to me that if a random person stumbled across Inconsiderate Prick for the first two posts this week they would think that this is some world literature blog. How wrong they would be...


Judging by the cover art, you'd think Belva Plain wrote it
From what I can tell, The Eye of the Leopard is not the typical Henning Mankell novel. With my exposure to him having been limited to a couple of the Masterpiece Mystery! Wallander series, it is my impression that he is largely known for being a m
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Margot
Mankell shows us the depths of human cruelty and the curious bonds of human devotion in several distinct times and places during the protagonist's life. We see Hans Olofson in rural Sweden as a boy with a hopeless, drunken single father yearning for the sea. We see him a few years later when he's made a good friend and they've turned from tormentors to loyal devotees of a local mutilated young woman. We see him casting about for some purpose to his life after he's finished his studies. And then ...more
Liz Greer
This is the first book I have read by Swedish writer Mankell, who also wrote the Wallander series. The lead character, Hans Olofson, makes a life for himself in Africa after a troubled childhood and the death of two friends in his native Sweden. The story moves back and forwards in time, along the path of Olofson's malaria fueled recollections. The prose is beautiful, stark and spare, conveying the claustrophia of both Olofson's childhood and young adulthood in Sweden and his later years in a tu ...more
Philippe Bernard
Du réchauffé sur les rayons des libraires avec cette traduction française d'un livre déjà vieux (1990). Se lit sans déplaisir mais Mankell nous a habitué à mieux depuis. Ce livre, c'est l'histoire d'un mec sans conviction et sans ambition, balloté par son destin, entre Suède et Zambie, de son enfance pauvre dans la Suède de l'après-guerre jusqu'à l'âge mûr dans les années 80 après avoir passé une vingtaine d'année en Zambie à diriger tant bien que mal une ferme qui lui est tombé dessus un peu pa ...more
Joanray04
This was so well written and evocative, and unlike any other Henning Mankell I have read. It's not about Wallender, the Swedish detective, as most of Mankell's books are. It does start in Sweden with the character's early experiences and musings about what he wants to do with his life. He then goes to Africa, where most of the novel takes place. Mankell does such a good job in describing, through actions and dialogue, the complexities and difficulties of living in a foreign land, and how we ofte ...more
Derek Baldwin
The story is well constructed, presenting the ex-patriate Swede protagonist's youth as remembered while he suffers from malaria, the story being developed chronologically while his present day life in Africa also moves forward through time. The two narratives converge quite cleverly before the novel comes to its end. However I found the Swedish chapters quite uninteresting while the African chapters were much much more interesting. Having said that I didn't think the African narrative was especi ...more
grundoon
3.5 I don't know that I have any real understanding of the point of this novel. The first half was a bit of a slog, a wait on a story into which to be drawn, or a character with whom to establish a sympathetic bond - and despite occasional redeeming qualities and the injustices that befall several, the latter never really does occur. Ultimately, it seems to be about the impenetrability of sub-Saharan Africa culture by the European mindset (and vice versa, to perhaps a lesser extent), and the fut ...more
Don Jacobson
This is not a Kurt Wallander mystery. It is the story of a Swede who goes to Africa for two weeks and stays 20 years. I could not identify with this weak character and found the story line intermittently interesting.
Ingo
Kein Wallander. Stattdessen eine sehr un-romantische Darstellung eines Lebens im Afrika nach Ende der Kolonialisierung.
Mankell ist einfach sehr gut darin, Stimmungen zu transportieren.
Naomi
Hans Olofson goes to Africa because he doesn't really know what else to do with his life. There he finds work running a large chicken farm for a woman who has had enough of Africa and goes back to her home. He has only intended to stay a short time but ends up there for over 18 years. He left Sweden, his drunken father and two friends that through tragedy are no longer a part of his life. In Zambia he learns that the differences between the black and the white culture will never be solved. The s ...more
Pat Hardy
A picture of a country falling apart and being white and not understanding oneself and one's motivations.
Another great picture of multiple view points in Africa.
Jay Fromkin
I'd wanted to read Mankell since seeing a Wallander adaptation of Masterpiece Mystery. Our local library had only one Mankell - "The Eye of the Leopard." Pretty disappointing. It's a Swedish smorgasbord of guilt, high-minded intentions, stasis, racism, loathing of racism, loathing of self, loathing of family, loathing of Sweden (only the late Olof Palme comes out with reputation intact), African stereotypes, rage, and - really - a woman without a nose who plays jazz trombone. I had to force myse ...more
Peter
Since Mankell knows Central Africa, he is very good on the mood and settings here, and of course in the wintry Swedish bits. His protagonist is an unfocused drifter who falls into his farm-manager role without obvious effort or inclination. He has a fleeting flirtation with humanity (helping a black family), and a treacherous denouement to a friendship with an African journalist, but otherwise doesn't evolve much over the years. There's plenty of violence in the end, but not a lot to learn from ...more
Bob Harris
Yeah, it was okay. Sort of an "Out of Africa" story but much darker.
Shruts
Well, OK I can go along with crazy people with no ambition and direction only so far. Why would someone leave a comfy place on a harebrained (brief) mission and stay for 20 yrs in a threatening and awful place, sure to be killed by disease, mutiny, crime, at any minute? And choose to consort with hideous people he despises?

Fiction, like theater, requires one to suspend disbelief (for a while at least). This book tried my patience to the breaking point, and I will gladly return it to its lender r
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Sara
This book tells the story of Hans Olofson, his childhood in Sweden and his need to escape. He sets off to find the grave of a legendary missionary in Zambia and ends up staying in Zambia for nearly 20 years.

Having spent time traveling through Africa, and tried to understand the country and it's people I could really relate to this book. It explained lots - without explaining anything at all. After all who can explain the myths, superstitions and people that are Africa.

A stunning book full of unf
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Max
A compelling narrative of human frailty and dogged perseverance, the adventure flips back and forth in time between Zambia and Sweden. Hans Olofson never intends to stay in Africa, is buffeted by circumstance and takes a long time to develop purpose in life. Whites are resented and threatened in post-colonial Zambia. Real danger is ever present. Introspective at times, the novel is a realistic and personal adventure of a moral but tormented soul surviving while trying to forge lasting relationsh ...more
Shelly
Book #27 for 2011 - The story of Hans Olofson, a Swede who moves to Zambia, Africa to take over an egg farm. He is prompted there by a woman named Janine, who is considered the town outcast due to a botched surgery that left her with no nose. Does it sound weird? Yes, it does. Is it worth reading? Yes, it is. This book is extremely well written and the author goes back and forth between Hans' life in Sweden and his life in Zambia. It took me a while to get into it but I really liked it!
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Henning Mankell is an internationally known Swedish crime writer, children's author and playwright. He is best known for his literary character Kurt Wallander.

Mankell splits his time between Sweden and Mozambique. He is married to Eva Bergman, Swedish director and daughter of Ingmar Bergman.
More about Henning Mankell...
Faceless Killers (Wallander #1) The Fifth Woman (Wallander, #6) Sidetracked (Wallander #5) The Dogs of Riga (Wallander #2) The Man Who Smiled (Wallander #4)

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“Perché tutti quelli che vengono in africa devono sempre giustificarsi? .. Persino chi è nato qui dice di essere solo in visita” 0 likes
“La volontà di vivere. Quella forza che ti fa alzare dal letto ogni mattina quando fa giorno. Tutto può essere sostituito. Ma non questo.” 0 likes
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