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Download The Eye of the Leopard epub

by Henning Mankell

Interweaving past and present, Sweden and Zambia, The Eye of the Leopard draws on bestselling author Henning Mankell's deep understanding of the two worlds he has inhabited for over twenty years.Hans Olofson lived through a tough childhood. His father drank himself into oblivion, and his mother was completely absent, only faded photographs offered Olofson any hint of what she may have been like. His adolescence was just as trying, and when his best friend and lover, Janine, tragically dies, he flees to Africa to carry out Janine's only real dream in life — to visit the grave of a legendary missionary in isolated Northern Zambia. Upon his arrival in Zambia, Olofson is stunned. He finds it beautiful and mysterious, so he decides to stay and make it his home, eventually taking control of a small farm. It is there that Olofson discovers the fragile truce between the rich newcomers and black natives of the recently independent state . . . a truce that could rupture at any moment.Alternating between Olofson's years in Africa and those in Sweden, The Eye of the Leopardis a bravura achievement, a study in contrasts — black and white, poor and wealthy, Africa and Europe — and an exploration of the challenges and responsibilities that come with freedom.
Download The Eye of the Leopard epub
ISBN: 030739784X
ISBN13: 978-0307397843
Category: Literature
Subcategory: World Literature
Author: Henning Mankell
Language: English
Publisher: Vintage Canada; Reprint edition (April 14, 2009)
Pages: 336 pages
ePUB size: 1417 kb
FB2 size: 1543 kb
Rating: 4.1
Votes: 278
Other Formats: lrf txt azw doc

The Eye of the Leopard is superb! I do not usually say anything as complimentary as "superb" about books, but this one is an exception. Set mostly in Zambia, this book allows readers to get a full and rich sense of life in one of the poorest countries on earth. But this book is more about people than place; it's the people who grab our attention and don't let go. The main character is portrayed in such a way as to make him seem like a typical European white man trying to cope with personal demons as well as with his African Black neighbors. As he grows, so do we. We readers begin to get a feel of what life for an ethnic minority person feels like--what whites must learn if they want to survive in a world populated by others. When I finished this book, I had to spend a long time thinking about my own feelings about race and about how my feelings affect the feelings of people around me. Any book that can make a reader think long and hard about his own life, especially if that book is a work of fiction, is a great book. And Henning Mankell is a great writer!
Hans Olofson is sure someone is trying to kill him. He's suffering from malaria and paranoia that will likely drive him crazy. It's a very hot, humid night in the Zambia countryside. He is clutching his revolver while he rolls in agony on his bed convinced he will die one violent way or another.

So starts a promising novel that is well paced and interesting but does not ultimately deliver a fully satisfying or believable story. Henning Mankell has created a character that I assume is somewhat autobiographical and thus I believe the story to have some truth including the violence and intensity that he describes. A boy of twelve or thirteen is living with his deeply depressed and alcohol abusing father in northern Sweden in the late 1950's. From there the story moves up to the 1980's and back to the mid-1960's. The central question of the story is how did Hans end up in Zambia and what is he doing there? The book delves deeply into the race conflicts that are seen as central to Africa's struggle for independence and prosperity. There are mutual needs but great misunderstandings, resentments and violence that separate whites and blacks. It's clearly an issue that consumes Mankell.

We learn all about Hans' life where his mother abandoned him almost at birth. He struggles to find a future in Sweden where he's haunted by the abrupt end of his friendship to Janine; a deformed, angelic woman who had befriended him when he was a rebellious teenager; a father he cannot understand and the haunting rejection of a mother that he cannot remember. With a desire to leave a clutch of sad memories behind him and as a promise to Janine to visit the missionaries at Mutshatsha, Hans boards a plane and into a life that is completely alien.

The problem with the story is we don't see much change in voice of Hans as he grows up. The experiences do not lead to a believable change in character. In fact his opinions and debates in his first days in Zambia at age 25 seem too clearheaded and articulate compared to the build up of a boy of middling achievement and aspirations. As he stays longer and longer in Zambia this voice does not change or perhaps it even digresses. Ultimately as his time there becomes tenuous I became exasperated wondering what it would take him to get out there!

The story is relatively short living gaps that may have helped build credibility. It also feels a bit rushed. A character; Peter Motombwane is not well developed before he becomes central to the plot. One wonders if Mankell had this book bouncing around in his head for a while and then put it to a paper when he was between other assignments. I did like the book but I believe most readers have a shelf of back up selections for a quiet day and I would not otherwise put this on my "A" list.

I give it an extra 1/2 star for originality as this is not a topic that I've read much about so it had some added interest.
I've purchased a number of books by Mankell and enjoyed the majority to a great degree. However, as I read this book, I wondered what it truly represented. Having read some background on Mankell , I questioned if it was based upon some of his recall of his first days in Africa which he used as a foundation for a novel, possibly to educate or inform the readers on some related history.

My preference is strongly for story lines that flow in order of events. Therefore, backtracking detracts substantially from my enjoyment and rating level since every other chapter is backtracking (for a large portion of the novel). It's the same with authors who too often describe the dreams of their characters. This book has too much of that for my tastes as well.

More impacting, overall, is that I found the book lacking in conviction. As I read, I asked "is this guy barricading himself in his house again?!" losing track if it was version three, four or five. To my point, however, is that no version seemed to impart a sense of genuine fear let alone of the magnitude that would be there with the circumstances described.

One back cover reviewer described this book as "beautiful" a "hopeful coming of age story ". I truly questioned if that reviewer and I read the same book. The main character continually barricades himself inside his home for fear of being murdered, his friends actually are slaughtered. Another back cover review reviewer describes it as "depths of fear, alienation and despair". It's hardly "beautiful" but those reviews can be most confusing to the potential buyer.

Considering the main undercurrents in the book, if that appeals, I would call this book an "OK" story which seems overly repetitious. Plain and simply, I found its intent confusing and many high tension moments as reading emotionally "flat". It was tedious but admittedly, it was just not to my tastes. I noted some of the more positive Amazon reviews indicated this book "is not for everyone" ... that says it all!