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34 of 34 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Henning mankell - Chronicler of the winds
And now for something completely different. Crime writer Henning Mankell (most of whose output is not actually crime fiction) has produced an unpretensious, magical little fable of african street-life that's as full of the small joys of personal life as it is its tragedies and sadnesses. It's completely different, really, to the wallander crime novels, the only similarity...
Published on 25 April 2006 by RachelWalker

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Difficult read but perhaps worth it
Like a previous reviewer I found the book is somewhat difficult to read and does not flow as it could or should. It was at times very touching and moving but any flow in emotive tensions was soon cut off by an awkward turn of phrase.

Its surely is a worthwhile subject to write about the appalling plight of street kids in Africa but this is slightly overdone;...
Published on 24 Aug. 2007 by Tom A. Adami


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34 of 34 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Henning mankell - Chronicler of the winds, 25 April 2006
By 
RachelWalker "RachelW" (England) - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
And now for something completely different. Crime writer Henning Mankell (most of whose output is not actually crime fiction) has produced an unpretensious, magical little fable of african street-life that's as full of the small joys of personal life as it is its tragedies and sadnesses. It's completely different, really, to the wallander crime novels, the only similarity being a slightly suspenseful air - not a major one, as that's not really the main aim of the novel, but Mankell's natural instinct for suspense does seem to press through the story.

The narrator of the story is Jose Antonio Maria Vaz, a baker in an unnamed African city. One day he finds Nelio, a street urchin notorious and almost legendary among the city's people, shot and bleeding in the theatre adjoinging the bakery. As instructed, he carried Nelio up on to the roof of the theatre and lays him on a makeshift bed. As he lies dying on the roof, weakening slowly, Nelio tells Jose the story of his remarkable life over the series of nights he has left to live. A life full of tragedy - and full of flourishes of imaginative brilliance on Mankell's part - which forced Nelio to witness the death of his mother by invading barbarians, to flee the village of his youth, and embark upon a remarkable journey to the city, where he joins a colourful and charming band of steet urchins. And finally, Nelio reveals to Jose how he comes to be wounded and dying.

Oh yes, the story's riddled with implausibilities and unlikelihoods, but that's not the point. It's not supposedto be especially realistic, it's supposed to be fantastic, a story full of imagination that shows how important stories and storytelling are to us, how important is fantasy, story, narrative, triumph, imagined grandeur, to the human race. the entire history of literature the world over is chock full of tomes that demonstrate how important stories and imagination are to human existence, and this is another one of those.

It's creatively and imaginatively brilliant, it's very moving, it's very charming. It's oddly romantic, too: Nelio refuses to be taken hispital where he could be saved, but demands to tell Jose his story and resigns himself to deaht which, yes, is unnecessary. It's all part of Nelio's own rather fancy view of his own narrative, and Mankell's way of showing that any individual has the power to wrest some control of their own story and add a little romance, bravura, nobility (even if strictly unnecessary) if they so wish.

I read the book in just a day. i was enchanted by it. It's not perfect (Nelio never sounds like the ten year-old he is supposed to be, for one), but that's not the point. It's not about plausibility or Mankell trying to create an infallibly realistic picture of life in Africa (though he does in fact manage to give a realistic portrait of tragic lives, depsite their fantastical imaginative flourishes), it's a story about imagination and stories, it holds to the oldest traditions of storytelling in that respect: it sings the achievements of a human being, of a life maybe striken by poverty but certainly not that of the imagination or of adventures. it's incredibly sad at times, but it's also very heart-warming. A wonderful little book, and a fantastic story. That's what it is, and that's all it wants to be.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A new Mankell, 24 April 2007
By 
Michael Ward (Oxford, England) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)   
This review is from: Chronicler Of The Winds (Paperback)
This is a totally absorbing tale told through the eyes of a naive baker of poor and dispossessed children in a war torn but unnamed African city. Some books just suck you in and don't leave you alone until well after the final page is read. This is just such a story. It is difficult to reconcile this tale with the inventor of Kurt Wallender. It shows the breadth of Mankell's writing and the brilliance of the translation. A really good read
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A fable of modern Africa, 1 April 2009
By 
Mondoro (United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
(TOP 1000 REVIEWER)    (VINE VOICE)   
This review is from: Chronicler Of The Winds (Paperback)
Set in an un-named African country, though one can infer from the author's personal connections and the names of the characters, that this is Mozambique. The civil war background and the atrocities that destroyed Nelio's family are based on the realities of the country's first 20 years of independence, when bandits destroyed the infrastructure and killed Government officials in the countryside, to intimidate villagers and undermine the credibility of the Frelimo governmment. Mankell does not exaggerate - this did happen.

The book itself reminds the reader of recent novels by Allende and other Latin American authors: there is an atmosphere of magic and fantasy as Nelio and his gang of street urchins survive in the city (recognisably Maputo). The episode of the dead lizards is both charming and comic, lightening the tragic note of the narrative.

Mankell employs his ability to create tension (evident in the Wallander series) that builds up as each day advances. Nelio dies, that we know. The reason for his death, and the circumstances in which it happens, is revealed in the final day of his life when he comes to the end of his narrative. Without saying anything more, the reader may feel let down when all is revealed but it is not out of line with Africa's general experience since decolonisation.

There are weaknesses. Yes, as some have commented, the 10 year-old Nelio seems very precocious, even as a street-wise operator, but his level of knowledge is part of the overall mystical tone of the novel. There are digressions about the narrator, Vaz, and that last relic of the colonial period, the nonagenerian owner of the bakery that are colourful but redundant. And there are lots of questions that arise from Nelio's actions, and the behaviour of others: but then, as a fable, the novel tells basic truths about the human condition and that is really what matters.

A PS: if the novel manages to attract attention to Mozambique and its attemts to recover from over three decades of strife, in the way McCall Smith has towards Botswana, it will have done a considerable service.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars strangely uplifting, 25 Mar. 2013
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A departure from the detective novels of Henning Mankell that i had read before, but just as well written.
Really a rather sad desciption of the horrors of Africa and the life of the street kids but with a message of hope as to how they survive the traumas that happen to them.
If only this message could be taken to the people behind the attrocities
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Africa from another viewpoint, 14 Mar. 2013
A beautifully written piece from the view of people on the street. The main character, Nelio, and his chronicler are perfectly presented without any real description and yet the images of post-colonial Africa are sharply drawn. I couldn't put it down even though there was an air of inevitability about the story.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars My opinion, 4 Feb. 2013
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This review is from: Chronicler Of The Winds (Paperback)
Like all Mankell books His name alone promises a good investment in the reading quarter. This is a title I would think about personnal- but it was extremenly compulsive reading as all his books are. recommended
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A magical tale, 12 Sept. 2006
By 
HORAK (Zug, Switzerland) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
Jose Antonio Maria Vaz, a former baker, has now become a beggar waiting for the world to end in a poor African country, ever since he met Nelio, a street boy, and heard his tale. Nelio was shot in the theatre below the bakery where Jose works. Jose rescued him and tended to his wounds on the roof of the bakery until he died and then, following Nelio's wish, burned his body in the bakery's oven.

Now Jose is about to tell Nelio's story exactly as he heard it during nine consecutive nights. Jose is thus the only person to know Nelio's sad tale. He calls himself the Chronicler of the Winds because the tale he is about to tell, only the winds from the sea will ever hear it.

A rich and heartbreaking novel filled with moving characters and a plot which teaches us a lot about friendship, poverty and above all else solitude.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Difficult read but perhaps worth it, 24 Aug. 2007
By 
Tom A. Adami "adami164" (New York NY) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Chronicler Of The Winds (Paperback)
Like a previous reviewer I found the book is somewhat difficult to read and does not flow as it could or should. It was at times very touching and moving but any flow in emotive tensions was soon cut off by an awkward turn of phrase.

Its surely is a worthwhile subject to write about the appalling plight of street kids in Africa but this is slightly overdone; but awkwardly.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars enchanting, 13 Feb. 2010
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This review is from: Chronicler Of The Winds (Paperback)
as unlike the wallander novels as one can get, slow paced but atmospheric and an enchanting read.
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4 of 6 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not long enough, 9 Jun. 2007
By 
DubaiReader "MaryAnne" (Rowlands Castle, United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)   
This review is from: Chronicler Of The Winds (Paperback)
Unlike the previous reviewer, I found this book disappointing. I have read 3 of Henning Mankell's previous books and while I did not expect this to be in any way similar, I didn't feel it lived up to expectations.

In addition, the translation was sometimes awkward to follow, requiring paragraphs to be reread to grasp their meaning.

A young street kid, from a city somewhere in Africa, is shot at the beginning of the book. The "Chronicler" finds him and nurses him through his final days. The dying Nelio recounts his story, leading up to the reason for the shooting.

Unfortunately the first 40 pages of the book are taken up with the life story of the owner of the bakery where the "Chronicler" works. This seems to have little bearing on the rest of the tale.

The account of Nelio's life is both fascinating and horrifying, but the book is too short, only 232 pages, which leaves less than 200 pages devoted to Nelio's story and the life of the street kids. This could have been written in much more detail, such an interesting, but little covered, subject.
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Chronicler Of The Winds
Chronicler Of The Winds by Henning Mankell (Paperback - 5 April 2007)
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