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Chronicler of the Winds: A Novel Hardcover – April 25, 2006


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 233 pages
  • Publisher: New Press, The; 1 edition (April 25, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1595580581
  • ISBN-13: 978-1595580580
  • Product Dimensions: 1 x 5.5 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,215,925 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Mankell's evocative, quietly powerful novel, first published in 1995, tells the unbearably sad story of 10-year-old Nelio, a mortally wounded street kid in an unnamed African port city. After revolutionary soldiers kill his family and most of the people in his village ("to show us they were serious in their struggle to liberate us and help us have a better life"), Nelio makes his way to the city where he joins a gang of homeless orphans, eventually—and reluctantly—becoming their leader. They have "only one mission in life: to survive," but that's essentially all they can hope for. Mankell, best known for his Kurt Wallander mystery series (The Dogs of Riga, etc.), vividly depicts in this heartbreaking fable the ongoing tragedy of Africa's disenfranchised. At times the narrative strays too far from Nelio's story and the tone slips into a kind of magical realism, but it's impossible not to be moved by the tale of Nelio's short and painful life. (June)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Review

“Timely and well worth reading, this is highly recommended.” — Library Journal (starred review)

“Evocative, quietly powerful . . . it’s impossible not to be moved.” — Publishers Weekly

“A wonderful, lyrical fable.” — Vogue (UK)
“Lyrical . . . elegant . . . it will certainly move readers.” — Literary Review


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Customer Reviews

One of the best books I have ever read - period.
Kathy Nordeen
It may not be "good" or "bad" but more significantly dependent on the readers' tastes.
ReadsALot
It is also quite gripping, and I could hardly put the book down at night.
A. Rubin

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

17 of 17 people found the following review helpful By Brickbat70 on September 6, 2006
Format: Hardcover
I had never read anything by Henning Mankell. I randomly chose Chronicler of the Winds, and it was a fantastic book. However, many will believe the opposite, and I fully understand why. On the surface it tells the grim story of Nelio, a mortally wounded ten-year-old homeless boy, shot twice in the chest and destined to die on the grubby rooftop of a bakery in Mozambique. In the nine nights he clings to life, he manages to tell everything to Jose Antonio Maria Vaz, a sympathetic and lonely baker. He tells a brutal story--murder, rape, and the lesser horrors of daily survival in the city--but in the end, the story possesses an odd feeling of hope. It changes Jose Antonio's life, and he roams the city telling Nelio's story to the wind.

Many will dislike this book for two reasons. The first involves the bits of magical realism that gradually overwhelm the plot. Nelio lives in the empty belly of an abandoned equestrian statue. He has never been beaten up by other homeless kids, appears to have curative powers, and expresses simple wisdom like an old sage. He shares his travels with an albino dwarf, then (by chance) befriends an albino toward the end of the tale. Mystical cats, healing herbs, floating spirits--not to everyone's liking.

The second reason, and for many the most damning, involves Mankell's clear attempt to "say something." I won't rant, but people tend to see any search for deeper meaning as an attempt at The Five People You Meet in Heaven, as if there can be nothing meaningful yet sincere. People either like or don't like to be given answers, and those who dislike will see Mankell as a heavy-handed dispenser of philosophy-lite. I think they miss the point. Mankell doesn't intend to give answers; he reminds you to ask the questions.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By A. Rubin on August 26, 2006
Format: Hardcover
As a huge fan of Mankell's Wallander mystery series, I was curious to read this book, which is a totally different character. I found it just as brilliant and engaging as any of his other works. It is amazing how Mankell can be so talented in so many different styles of writing (I include in that statement his young adult novels and his stage plays). The Chronicler of the Wind is truly touching. It is also quite gripping, and I could hardly put the book down at night. I recommend this book for everyone, from teenagers to seniors. If you like this one, also check out Mankell's other African novels, Secrets in the Fire and Playing With Fire.
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11 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Steve Koss VINE VOICE on May 23, 2006
Format: Hardcover
What could be more intriguing than a quasi-mystical novel about street children in Mozambique written by the "world famous" Swedish author of the Kurt Wallander mystery series? No less one that cites Voltaire's irrepressible Candide that, "If this is the best of all possible worlds, what must the others be like?" In CHRONICLER OF THE WINDS, author Henning Mankell has crafted a story of modern Africa: a whirlwind of genocidal violence, superstition, medicine women, albinos, and ineffectual Western do-gooders. At their center, a band of impoverished orphans, surviving together in a large coastal city by their wits alone, led by a charismatic and preternaturally wise 10-year-old named Nelio.

The story's narrator is a skillful but world-weary baker named Jose Antonio Maria Vaz, a lonely bachelor surrounded by "enticing" bread counter girls and a new dough mixer named Maria prone to wearing "gauzy" dresses. Jose Vaz works in the dead of night, preparing the next day's breads for sale. His quiet nighttime world is interrupted one night by a gunshot in the attached theater where the elderly bakery owner, Dona Esmerelda, tries with comic futility to stage an allegorical play about a pack of elephants with religious problems. Vaz rushes to the theater to investigate the noise, only to discover the boy Nelio lying alone on the stage, in the spotlight, in a pool of his own blood. Vaz takes the boy up onto the roof for some fresh air and what modest medical attentions he can deliver, but the boy steadfastly refuses to be taken to the hospital. Instead, he begins telling his life story, a journey through the underside of African life that lasts nine nights and ineradicably changes Jose Vaz's life.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By M. F. H. on March 25, 2007
Format: Hardcover
I was surprised at the compassion K.W wrote this story...It was very moving . the first 20 or such pages , i had my doubts, but by the time the book was finished, its one i will never forget.

agreat story and very well written
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful By ReadsALot on November 30, 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I've read and enjoyed a number of Mankell's books, primarily those with Wallendar as the lead character. This was totally different. I found the book interesting from that perspective and a good deal of that was out of respect for Mankell per how his creative thoughts materialize. Truly amazing.

However, in a review of this book, I would expect the enjoyment or lack of enjoyment for the reader would be similar to that in review of a play. It may not be "good" or "bad" but more significantly dependent on the readers' tastes.

I did have challenges "getting into the book" to the point where I wondered if I would finish it - for about the first 25 pages. Once I passed that point, I found the book sufficiently interesting to finish it. There are many elements of fantasy in the book which is not an aspect of writing that I enjoy nor would I seek out. That is definitely a personal preference factor but contributed to my lower rating. Overall, in my view, does it match the emphasis of the words in the formal reviews on the back cover ? No. Is it a story with a different theme and a different ending and a "decent read"? Yes.
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