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The Eye of the Leopard [Hardcover]

Henning Mankell , Steven T. Murray
3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)

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Book Description

1 April 2008
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 more than twenty years. Hans Olofson arrives in Zambia not long after independence, hoping to fulfill the missionary dream of his friend Janice. He is also fleeing the traumas of his motherless childhood: his father's alcoholism, his best friend's terrible accident, Janice's death, his fear of an ordinary and stifled fate. Africa is a terrible shock, yet he stays and makes it his home. But he never fully comes to understand his place as a mzungu, a wealthy white man among native blacks, and the fragile truce between them. Rumors of an underground army of revolutionaries wearing leopard skins warn him that the truce is in danger of rupturing. Alternating between Hans's years in Africa and those in Sweden, The Eye of the Leopard is a bravura achievement and a study in contrasts-black and white, poor and wealthy, Africa and Europe-both sinister and elegiac.
--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Product details

  • Hardcover: 315 pages
  • Publisher: New Press (1 April 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1595580778
  • ISBN-13: 978-1595580771
  • Product Dimensions: 2.9 x 16.7 x 24.2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 6,052,957 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Henning Mankell has become a worldwide phenomenon with his crime writing, gripping thrillers and atmospheric novels set in Africa. His prize-winning and critically acclaimed Inspector Wallander Mysteries are currently dominating bestseller lists all over the globe. His books have been translated into over forty languages and made into numerous international film and television adaptations: most recently the BAFTA-award-winning BBC television series Wallander, starring Kenneth Branagh. Mankell devotes much of his free time to working with Aids charities in Africa, where he is also director of the Teatro Avenida in Maputo.

In 2008, the University of St Andrews conferred Henning Mankell with an honorary degree of Doctor of Letters in recognition of his major contribution to literature and to the practical exercise of conscience.

Product Description


"He writes simply and gracefully...Mankell at his best" Daily Telegraph "Brilliant...exceptionally well written...a white knuckle page-turner... Mankell translates the intrigue of the genre he has become so famous for into an existential whodunit: a profound and searing investigation into the loneliness of man" Sunday Telegraph "A tense tale whose violence and uneasiness contrast to great effect with Olofson's deadpan narrative tone and Mankell's spare prose" Spectator "The writer [is] clear about his authorial target, which is to expose the myth of Swedish neutrality with a savage portrait of its foreign aid system" Guardian "The Eye of the Leopard is a thriller of the mind: a chilling journey into the depths of fear, alienation and despair" Sunday Telegraph --This text refers to an alternate Hardcover edition.

Book Description

The Eye of the Leopard is a first-rate psychological thriller, delving deep into the mind of a man lost in an unknown world, and is Mankell's finest non-crime novel yet. --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
18 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant novel 22 April 2008
By Simon Clarke TOP 500 REVIEWER
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
The novel juxtaposes the bereft childhood of Hans Olofson
in rural Sweden,abandoned by his mother and brought up by an
alcoholic father-with his subsequent life as a egg farmer in
Zambia.The picture of Africa described is sinister,corrupt,
violent,racist and superstitious as Hans endeavours to come
to terms with both the Africa he finds and himself.This is a
fine psychological thriller,that is far more than a white man
in Africa tale,as it journeys into the depths of Hans'mind
with considerable acuity.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The dark side of Africa 7 Dec 2010
I chose this book because I have read, and previously enjoyed, books by Henning Mankell - particularly the Wallander series. I knew that this was going to be a different experience but I trusted that Mankell would deliver a taut and sensitive piece of writing, which in my opinion he has done.

However, it doesn't seem right to say that I enjoyed this book because it is profoundly depressing. Our protagonist, Hans Olofson, has had a lonely and isolated childhood, abandoned by his mother and brought up by a father who is employed as a lumberjack but who would prefer to be at sea. The community in which they live is small, but Hans and his father exist on the edge and ultimately there is very little to hold him there. The trip to Africa is to fulfil the dream of a close friend of his adolescence (someone who also lives on the edge of the community). Arriving in Africa without any preconceptions and ideals, he serves as a blank canvas on which Mankell can portray the dark and ugly side of corruption in Africa and amongst the Swedish aid agencies.

I think that this would make an excellent book club read because there is so much within it that could be discussed - and perhaps much that ought to be discussed. If I was to recommend it to a friend, I would pick a friend who had a lively interest in the affairs of the world and who would appreciate a novelists attempt to portray ugly realities through the vehicle of a novel.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Anarchy in Africa 15 Nov 2009
By SusieH
The Eye of the Leopard

Hans Olofson leaves his native Sweden to travel to Africa to fulfil the dream of another, Janine, `the noseless one'.

With each recurrent malarial bout, and the accompanying fevers and hallucinations, he takes us back to his life in Sweden, with a drunken father, a missing mother, his childhood friend, Sture, with whom he is fiercely competitive just once too often; and of course Janine, who is a source of fascination for both boys.

In Africa, a chance meeting with Ruth and Werner Masterton leads to him settling in Africa, initially as a temporary manager for Judith Fillington on her egg farm. When he takes over the farm he decides to lessen the huge divide between white and black, being more generous with pay and conditions for his workers. This does not have the results that he had hoped for.

Black violence escalates and you can feel his fear, which initially sounded like the neurosis of his malarial episodes, but later becomes fully justified.

Well written, you can really feel the deprivations, the misunderstandings, and the sheer terror.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Changing his spots 9 Aug 2009
This is the first book I have read by this author and I understand he is better known for his series of detective books (Inspector Wallender). Perhaps arriving without that background was an advantage, because I found this to be a marvellous book combining plenty of opportunity for reflection with attention-grabbing action. The story is of a young Swede who begins by asking himself the question why he is who he is and not somebody else. This moment of self-realisation is the start of his search for meaning within the set of circumstances which form his life. The plot is built up in parallel between his life in rural Sweden and his adult life in Africa. The struggles he faces in adapting his principles to his practical situation as an employer of 200 people in Zambia, the changing balance of power between ethnic groups and above all the completely different way of looking at life from the African and European perspective all provide opportunities for challenging questions, whilst keeping an exciting pace to the book throughout. Perhaps it is as the tension mounts that the author best combines his thriller writing with this ability to pose questions. At times the scenario is a little tired, for example the view of missionaries in Africa reads as dated, but the fundamental nature of the many questions posed throughout this exciting novel overcomes these minor flaws.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars not Wallander, but an excellent book 8 April 2011
Lets make it clear, if you are looking for a detective/Wallander story, then this book isnt for you. However it is an excellent read.

There are some particularly good reviews here that give you more of the background to the characters, so I wont duplicate, other than to suggest that you read them.

Is there a greater contrast of life than the move from Sweden to Zambia? This is what makes the book so interesting. The picture of Zambia is a dark and frankly depressing one. I suspect though that reality was close to the description, so its no criticism of the country or its people, but just how extraordinarily different are the cultures of the west and of Zambia (Africa as a whole?), and how the cultures manifestly distrust each other, why this is so, and how they react to each other.

The effects of malaria, endemic corruption (it is stated in the book that the corruption in Sweden is just more subtle, although not discussed in detail), racism, mutual distrust, loneliness, superstition, bloody violence and subsequent fear create a tense thriller, described as "psychological". It certainly makes you think, and want to ask many questions. Maybe it helps one understand the dark continent? Certainly it is thought provoking. Actually, its a scary (315 page) story.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Summary of service from Amazon.
Prompt service, Book in very good condition (as new). Very pleased, Well done. However, I don't really like the book but that isn't your fault. Read more
Published 9 months ago by MR S FOSSEY
4.0 out of 5 stars African Adventure Turns Nightmare
Following an unsettled youth in Sweden, Hans Olofson travels to a remote corner of Zambia to fulfill the dream of a former girlfriend whom he had deserted. Read more
Published 10 months ago by Barry Gale
4.0 out of 5 stars Eye of the Leopard
A cracking read with a lot to recommend this book. Its my first read by the author but it won,t be the last. The story was different and exciting withan excellent pace about it.
Published 16 months ago by robert mcleod
4.0 out of 5 stars CLASSIC MANKELL PLUS
Mankell does it again. Clever plotting and several entirely plausible twists and turns made this a very good read indeed
Bryan Clark
Published on 1 Oct 2011 by Mr. B. L. Clark
4.0 out of 5 stars Very tense and gripping.....
In The Eye of the Leopard Henning Mankell offers the reader a great sense of place. The book switches from Sweden to Zambia and we get a great contrast between both... Read more
Published on 23 July 2010 by Wynne Kelly
1.0 out of 5 stars henning Mankell but not typical
I did not enjoy this book, which is very unlike the Wallander series. I eventually gave up and never finished the book
Published on 9 Jun 2009 by John R. Sambrook
3.0 out of 5 stars 'Your dream might be my nightmare'
'He wakes in the African night, convinced that his body has split in two'.

Hans Olofson, lies wracked with malarial fever in the opening of this novel, terrified that... Read more
Published on 7 Jan 2009 by purpleheart
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