A gripping plot but I found it confusing - who actually committed the major crimes - was it the new capitolist Ya Ru or his bodyguard?
I liked this book a lot. It was well-written and fascinating. I understand those who say it went off in too many directions, but since I found those directions interesting, it was OK with me. It has brutal parts, so be warned.
This book was a disappointment; mainly, I believe, because it is lost in translation. I am a big fan of Mankell, but until now, have only ever read him in French translation. Anna Gibson's french translations of the Wallender stories are far superior to this. Mankell's Hemingwayesque style is lost on Laurie Thomson. The book reads like a list of stilted facts. I don't feel suspense or connect with these characters at all. What I know must be a terrific thriller is a page flipper, not a page turner. I'll turn to Gibson if possible, to try and redeem it.
Very good story
translation maintained the flow, style
There should be a category of books called China Bashers. It would be a category to watch as it fills up, since China is the current Bad Guy - the scapegoat for US economic problems. "The Man From Beijing" has a ridiculous premise. Is anyone else "ROTFLMAO" at the idea of a highly successful capitalist/communist - who has risen to the top in China - risking everything to send a Chinese hit man armed with a large Japanese sword to torture and murder all the inhabitants of a small, all white village in Sweden in order to avenge the honor of his ancestor who had emigrated to the US to work on the construction of the first transcontinental railroad and was was dissed and mistreated by a Swedish foreman?
Huh? I guess the reader is supposed to know - or find out - that those Chinese are consumed with honor and ancestor worship and am unquenchable thirst for revenge! Not like the protagonist Birgitta, who is a nice middle class, middle-aged white lady (not unlike the readers, perhaps?) who is a judge. And she is a fair judge who treats immigrants who break Swedish law fairly. And who likes to drink nice wine with dinner (not unlike the readers, perhaps?) and who figures out the mystery. Oh, NO! Now, if you didn't see it coming from page one, now the mastermind who was able to figure out how to sneak a Chinese hit man armed with a large Japanese sword into a nice all-white Swedish village to murder all its inhabitants is after HER!
I guess the lesson to be learned if you live in an all-white village is, don't let them open a Chinese restaurant! I can only think that Markell's agent and editors were willing to swallow this ludicrous plot because of a long history of anti-Asian, racist stereotyping in European and US culture. Do you doubt me? -- Let's imagine the tables are turned for a moment: 100 years ago a Chinese worker hit and maybe even disfigured a white man. The white man is the great grandfather of Ted, a Harvard grad who is now the CEO of Fortune 500 company. Grrrr! Ted can't sleep for thinking how the Chinese man dissed his great grandfather. In fact, he's so mad he is willing to risk his entire Fortune 500 company to get revenge! Ted hires a professional white hit man to go to China, to a small village where the descendants of the Chinese guy who dissed his great grandfather now live, in total ignorance of what their ancestor had done. The white hit man sneaks into this all-Chinese rural village where, lo and behold, there is a MacDonalds. The hit man is able to sneak in disguised as the white manager of the MacDonalds, or perhaps a white tourist. Armed with a large English pike he tortures and kills all the inhabitants of the small Chinese village. Why? For American honor, of course. But, a Chinese woman judge somehow figures out that Ted is behind the killings in the small rural Chinese village because Ted has gone even further - he's killed his own sister (who met the Chinese woman judge) to keep her from telling on him! And now, Ted has to go to China HIMSELF to kill the Chinese woman judge!!! Just how is going to kill the Chinese judge in China? With an ancient US trick - the undercooked MacDonald's hamburger!!! But, just in the nick, Ted's nephew, who is avenging his mom's death and has come to China to warn the Chinese judge, shoots Ted dead.
OK, so you take your novel to an agent. Would it sell? As a comedy, perhaps. But as a serious novel published by a mainstream publisher? Incredibly, it became an international bestseller and was made into a TV movie, too.
Implausible plot, not up the standard of the Wallender books. Fair thriller but not what I hoped for.
This book encompasses a debate about the direction of China. A page turner.
not my favorite but interesting esp the "suggestion" that China might attempt to relieve domestic tensions and secure raw resources by settling excess population in relatively uninhabited and undeveloped parts of Africa and Siberia.
I loved the Wallander series on PBS with Kenneth Branagh as the gray and brittle detective, Wallander. (I mean - who does not love Kenneth Branagh?) This novel is by Henning Mankell, who also wrote the Wallander novels upon which that series is based. This story begins with a wolf. Then there is a horrific murder. For me, two things pervade this novel. One is the curious refusal of the main character, Birgitta Roslin, a judge in Sweden, to tell anyone in her family about the unusual events that begin to cascade in her life as she discovers that two of the murdered people are the foster parents of her mother. Why? Why do people in novels keep these secrets? In this book at least, there is a judicial oath, so the silence is not an unexpectedly clumsy attempt by a great writer to create suspense, but instead, here is a character with tightly contained integrity. That took me a while to understand. The second thing that pervades the novel is the weather – specifically the cold, Swedish winter: a white ghost which haunts every paragraph. So cold, even in Beijing. Even in summer, even in London. Even in America’s heartland in the 1860’s. With Mankell, only a partial thaw is expected.
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