A compelling story of a child driven to violence through loss and loneliness
In 1875 Hans Bengler, a young entomologist, leaves Sweden for the expedition of a lifetime to the Kalahari Desert where he hopes to find a previously undiscovered insect to name after himself and advance his career. Instead, after his long and arduous journey through the sands, he finds a small boy, whose tribe has been decimated by European raiders.
Accustomed to collecting specimens, Bengler decides to adopt the boy and names him Daniel. He takes the traumatised child home with him to Sweden and plans to ‘civilise’ him. But Daniel cannot slip into an alien culture, and a new life in the cold and snow, so easily. He yearns desperately for the desert and his real family, who visit him in his dreams. His only consolation comes from his friendship with a vulnerable young girl called Sanna, who is also an outsider in her community. But even this bond is destined to be violently broken, as Daniel’s isolation and increasing desperation lead to a chilling tragedy.
As well as an acute psychological depiction of the extraordinary life of a child thrown into extraordinary circumstances, in Daniel the acclaimed writer Henning Mankell also gives us a compelling and disturbing story of the dangerous gaps and misunderstandings that can exist between individuals and cultures.
“Mankell pulls no punches in this bleak but brilliant examination of misguided humanism”
Tina Jackson, Metro
“A powerfully involving and uncompromising novel about the loss of childhood and innocence”
Barry Forshaw, Daily Express
Jennifer Cunningham, Sunday Herald
“A sombre, gripping story about alienation and the clash of cultures”
“An acutely observed and slow-burning psychological thriller, written with Mankell's typically detached prose, making the violently tragic end all the more powerful”
Doug Johnstone, Big Issue Scotland