24.3.15

THE MAN FROM BEIJING, by Henning Mankel

Perhaps I am shallow. Perhaps I read only for entertainment. Perhaps I like easy reads. And perhaps I can't take a global look at a doorstopper of a novel without getting bored witless. Certainly the latter is true of my recent slog through The Man From Beijing, which is highly praised - on the back of the book - by many major European reviewers. "Not a typical crime novel... Powerful and exciting", says the Berner Zeitung (Switzerland). "Mankel's best thriller in fifteen years", from Svenska Dagbladet (Sweden). To add to the reviews: "Not exactly readable," says Nuts4Books. Click here for more...
I won't call it totally unreadable, but you'd better put in an extra-large supply of self-indulgent snacks for this one. Complex, and often inscrutable, plotting does not necessarily doom a novel. Nor does meticulously detailed itineraries of the arctic wolf; stereotypically inscrutable Chinese of all genders; candid repartee between two people, one of whom doesn't want to say a thing; microscopically detailed cruelties dating to the mid 1800's; equally microscopic analyses of Chinese history; things happening because they need to happen for the plot (the judge running around Beijing, for starters, or confiding details of a massacre to a total stranger). I rarely drop a book for a week, then skip 100+ pages and read the last 20. Just to find out if he kills off the judge. For me, it's a 3. My apologies to the author, for whom I have a great deal of respect. You might love The Man From Beijing, but I didn't.
Find the prize-wining authot at www.henningmankel.com
Find kinder, gentler book reviews at www.nuts4books.com