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3.43 of 5 stars 3.43  ·  rating details  ·  723 ratings  ·  118 reviews
Henning Mankell is a worldwide phenomenon: his books have been translated into forty languages with more than 35 million copies in print, and both his critical acclaim and fan base only continue to grow. His new novel Daniel is an elegiac, unexpected story that only he could have told.

In the 1870s, Hans Bengler arrives in Cape Town from Småland, Sweden, driven by a singula
Hardcover, 279 pages
Published November 9th 2010 by New Press, The (first published 2000)
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This is an extraordinarily haunting and poignant tale, told by an author at the top of his craft, about two destinies that intersect: a young black boy Molo, who is renamed Daniel, and the peculiar would-be naturalist who brings him back to Sweden.

It is the 1870s: Hans Bengler, a rootless and disconnected man, travels to Africa with the hopes of discovering an insect no one has ever seen before, the latest of his quixotic pursuits. The pickings are slender, but he DOES happen across a different
Lars Guthrie
There are parallels in Henning Mankell’s ‘Daniel’ to Emma Donoghue’s ‘Room,’ another unsettling novel centered on abuse and captivity—a child seen from his own point of view (albeit not exclusively, as is the case with ‘Room’), a queasy undercurrent of voyeurism infecting the moral outrage felt in reading exposé. It’s a daring breakaway from the format for which Mannkell is known.

Daring, but not altogether surprising for Mankell, who has made categorizing the dark, introspective, and insightful
forget it. i can't get into a book where the character has masturbated twice by page 4.
Henning Mankell never disappoints!

Daniel is different from the author's Wallander series, although I have found some similarities with his Africa/Swedish based fiction stories. It does not matter what kind of story Mankell is telling, he tells it so well that you would not be able to put it down until the last page.

That's precisely what I did, finishing it at one o'clock this morning. After I reluctantly put it down, I started thinking about what I have read, until I fell asleep and dream about
This is an utterly heart-breaking story of colonnial-era arrogance. Swedish entomologist, Hans Bengler, in the late 1870s, whilst on an insect hunt in the Kalahari desert in Namibia, stumbles across a local orphan and decides to 'adopt' him and take him back to Sweden. On arrival, he promptly parades him as a 'scientific discovery' in order to make money for the struggling Mr Bengler.

Uprooted, confused and unable to speak the language (which he eventually does learn), the boy, named Daniel by Be
Jan 13, 2011 Pat rated it 3 of 5 stars
Shelves: fiction
When I started this book, I was not sure if I liked it (I listened to the audio version). . . it begins a very strange story. . . but it became more and more enticing as I moved through it. By the end I saw it as a legend, a myth, a folk tale perhaps based on a very old story of a small African boy who was taken from his home to a very strange land. He never gives up his dream of getting back home to the Kalahari. It is a very haunting and strange tale, but by the end I was left with a ghostly b ...more
Mankell, Henning. DANIEL. (2000; Eng. trans. 2010). ***. Mankell is, of course, known for his tight mysteries set, mostly, in Sweden. He does live part of his life, however, in Africa, and calls on his experience there to provide us with this novel. I had difficulties getting into it, and even more forcing myself to finish it. One of the subtle clues that you might be reading a B- book by this celebrated author is that there are no blurbs or extracts from reviews plastered all over the cover. It ...more
Sometimes a great notion even in the talented hands of a clever author fails to live up to a reader's high hopes. DANIEL is a case in point. Mankell, noted for his series on Wallander, the Swedish inspector, is not only a skilled critic of his Scandanavian scene, but also a knowledgeable and sensitive observer of his adopted homeland of southern Africa (specifically, Mozambique where he lives for much of the year). This novel required both of his geographic areas of expertise to relate the tale ...more
I just wrote a capsule review of this earnest novel (for Publishers Weekly) by the author of the fantastic series featuring Swedish detective Kurt Wallender. This is a good, readable book, but not nearly as compelling as the Wallender books.

The Daniel of the title is an orphaned African boy, adopted by a Swedish explorer and taken back to Sweden so to be exhibited, like a curiosity (it's the 19th century; an African boy would certainly have been a novelty). The novel embodies one of Mankell's b
1875: Can you imagine the fear of an 8 year old African native who sees his mother and father brutally slaughtered. He is then adopted by a well-meaning Swedish scientist on an expedition, who believes he is saving the boy when he takes him back to Sweden. The problem is that the boy is very intelligent and the scientist a complete dolt. While the scientist tries to "civilize" Daniel and at the same time exploit him by exhibiting him at shows, Daniel tries to figure out how to get back to Afric ...more
The book maks a slow start but you suspect it's because Mankell wants to really get beneath the skin of his two main characters. It is worth being patient. Daniel in particualr is brilliantly portrayed, through Mankell's device of giving him an inner world through which his actions are guided by the land of his now dead parents. Mankell not only evokes his connections with his past, but shows how Daniel is inextricably linked to the desert environment from which he comes. He interprets the new w ...more
Laura Leaney
Oh heavens - such a slow read. I love mysteries and usually enjoy Henning Mankell's stories, but this one really tortured me. Although this mystery involves the 1878 murder of a mentally deficient country girl in southern Sweden, most of the book follows the grim progress of a wanna-be entomologist named Bengler who creeps around the African desert alternating between drinking, crying, and masturbating. Suddenly, in what seems to be a humanitarian gesture, he "buys" a young African boy to adopt ...more
Great book. It's not scary like most of his books, but it tells a haunting tale. Another book about a first world traveler to lands unknown to him. The main character, a single, awkward, and unsuccessful man, returns to Europe with a newly adopted small back child from the Kalahari Desert. We travel with the explorer during the first half and with the boy in the second. We follow the boy's progress, which is heart breaking every step of the way.
Alumine Andrew
What a remarkable story. It's the sort of novel that takes your breath away because of its intensity and depth of perception into someone's life and suffering. Mankell is a Swedish author who has written the Wallander crime novels which are now portrayed in a tv series so this is a bit of a departure from his usual stories but a very powerful one none the less.

Daniel is the story of a Swedish collector who is in the Kalahari desert when he comes across an orphaned black child whom he adopts and
I Loved Henning Mankell's book The Italian Shoes so I absolutely did not expect this from such a terrific writer! Daniel was cumbersome and I didn't actually ever get to the place where I cared about the characters. If I hadn't committed to reading it for our Book Club I would have put the book down when the character Hans Bengler masterbates twice by page four!
I wanted to like this so much. Like I knew that I should, intellectually. But my heart wouldn't let me. It just felt so surface-y, like there was nothing of substance to the writing. I just couldn't feel any emotions for the characters or story.
If you read Mankell's novel as a book about adoption (which it superficially is), then it is highly disturbing. Apparently built around an author figure's reconstruction of the inner life of a San boy abducted from Namibia in the late nineteenth century and taken to Sweden, the novel imagines movement from one culture to another solely in terms of loss--both for the Swedish naturalist at sea in the desert and the San boy deserted in the Scandinavian mud. The novel is regularly punctuated by flas ...more
Jan North
I have read a number of Mankell's Wallander books and thought I would sus out his other works. I did not really enjoy this novel firstly because I don't think it is very good - at least it did not work for me - I found the narrative unconvincing in places, for example the reported dialogue of Sanna just did not fit the character "you're crazy,...I don't understand half of what you're talking about. But I know this much you're just as insane as I am" Nothing else about Sanna's portrayal suggests ...more
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Paul Patterson
Henning Mankell is equally proficient writing literary fiction as he is at mysteries. His social conscience is revealed in his recent novel Daniel about a orphaned African boy who is impulsively transplanted from his Kalahari setting of sand and sun to the cold of Sweden by a man seeking his own identity by finding a unknown species of insect and giving it his name. Sadly the man not only discovers an insect but pins the fortunes of Daniel on the cork board of his own self discovery and importan ...more
Friederike Knabe
It took Daniel a long time to understand the word "home". And then he realized that whatever it was, it was far away from where he had been taken to. Hans Bengler, Swedish eccentric and somewhat hapless entomologist, had "adopted" the seven or eight year old San boy, Molo, during his expedition to the Kalahari Desert in then German South-West Africa in search of previously unidentified insects. With some specimens in his display cases, he decides to return to Sweden to exhibit his insect collect ...more
Corey Ryan
My reading soundtrack of Fennesz & Sakamoto's "Cendre" provided a soundscape perfect for the hazy desert always hovering nearby Sweden's forests, snow covered fields and mud strewn landscapes.
A quick summary because every review I read has one and I don't feel like going against the norm today: Hans Bengler, a failure as a med student and now an entomologist leaves Sweden in 1878 for the Kalahari Desert to find an insect that has never been discovered. He finds one beetle and one boy (arou
Anne Hawn Smith
This book is extremely poignant and compelling as well as being unsettling. It is the story of a strange Swede, Hans Bengler, who goes to Africa to find an unknown species of insect to name after himself. He ends up finding an orphaned black boy about 8 years old whom he brings back to Sweden. He feels that he can give him a better life even though the trader where he found the boy tells him he will only destroy the boy.

Hans uses Daniel in part of a carnival type lecture series to get people to
Uninspired, unconvinced.

I am disappointed to say that this book bored me. If I had not been listening to an unabridged audiobook, well read by Sean Barrett, I think I would have abandoned it. I was totally unconvinced by the character of Daniel, whose reactions just didn't ring true for me. And before that, the long, drawn out descriptions of Hans Bengler's travels through the Kalahari desert could have benefitted from severe abreviation.

Hans Bengler was a nineteenth century scientist who aspire
Kathleen Hagen
Daniel, by Henning Mankell, Narrated by H. Ryder Smith, produced by recorded Books, downloaded from

This is one of the novels which are not mysteries written by Mankell. This novel is about an entomologist from Sweden who is making his way across the African desert looking for rare and unknown insects that he can bring home and put his name to. In Capetown, he comes across a scene where a small boy from a village is found caged at the marketplace. His parents were killed in some kind
This is atypical Mankell. It concerns a young African boy who is adopted by a Swede and taken out of Africa to Sweden at the turn of the century. He names the boy Daniel. Daniel's parents are both dead, having been murdered in one of the many slaughters that have plagued Africa for years. It vividly portrays the struggle of this young boy to make sense of a world that is completely alien to him and that world's struggles to understand and make sense of a black boy from a place as different from ...more
I read this book when I really didn't have time. That's when the book must scrape for your attention, and this one did. I ended up finishing it in about four sittings over three days. That's a tribute to the narrative and plot that was easy to follow.
It's humourous too.
The book follows entomologist Hans Bengler's crazy journey to Africa searching for insects which nearly kills him till he accidentally runs into a place of safety.
He takes back to Europe, against all advice, this young Khoisan b
Vicki Fennessy
I enjoyed reading the book, although it was quite depressing but I did hope have throughout. What I was fascinated by was this fellow going on a trip across the desert of Africa in a wagon with assistants he couldn't really communicate with, and had no book to read! How to pass the time? Perhaps we have lost the ability in many ways to think/contemplate/meditate, we have so many distractions.
One of the most unusual novels I read in a long time. Daniel is a haunting and poignant tale, told by an author at the top of his craft. Set in the 1870's Hans Bengler travels to Africa from Sweden to discover unrecorded insects but in addition to the insects he finds,he impulsively "adopts" a young 8 year old orphan boy (whom he renames Daniel) and bring his back to Sweden. The story is about Daniel's life in Europe, unable to speak the language, not knowing who his "father" is, and for that ma ...more
I've just discovered this author who writes the Kurt Wallander mysteries. This book was very different from those English police crime books that are currently filmed and shown on PBS TV. This book was well written except for the very strange ending.
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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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