Monday, August 01, 2016

Mankell's The Shadow Girls - How To Repel Potential Refugees

The Shadow Girls
I've no idea why I picked up another Mankell. And another non-Wallander at that! Says
In 1989 Henning Mankell returned to Sweden after an extended period in Africa. Upon his return in Sweden, Henning Mankell was astounded by the xenophobia he seemed to have started to grow in Swedish society and decided to write about it. Since racism, according to Mankell, is a crime he needed a police officer. After a few searches through the local phone book Mankell had found his inspector. Kurt Wallander was born.
Mind you, I've yet to get my hands on a Wallander as the series has been worthy of TV and movie versions.

I can't say I didn't enjoy The Shadow Girls as there is a kind of humour in the writing. Scandinavian humour?

In any case the intentional humour is offered after about a chapter or so. Thus, what you first encounter can be a bit distasteful if you're a person of colour and one living in a land very far from the Nordic regions and one where your skin colour is quite the usual thing to have. So I'm a bit baffled about Mankell's desire to address racism. This is my second Mankell and, so far, though he does tend to be sympathetic towards his coloured characters, it's more to the tune of

"Bad things were done to you by peoples of my colour! But what a very peculiar person you are! What terrible evil lurks in you!"
Mankell's depiction of a young African girl, a refugee, makes for inadvertent humour to me. What trouble he must have taken to "research" for that!

It's as though he cannot find criminals or wretched characters who are not persons of colour! And his guilt so torments him that, even when he tries to portray a girl from Africa as a victim with whom we must sympathise, he fails. 

I confess that I skipped and skimmed merrily through the book for it had nothing to hold my attention apart from the refreshing humour of some conversations between Scandinavians.

Such books ought to be distributed for free to all potential refugees and, lest they can't read or can't read the language of publication, perhaps drones should drone out the novel to such peoples. I'm pretty sure it will cure all those Africans and others who seem to be so eager to rush to Europe, etc. for refuge of this misapprehension.

I, for one, will be most loathe to visit Mankell land, post reading his books.

Yet, I'm sure that The Shadow Girls will find appreciative readers there and in neighbouring countries and in my own land as well as in Africa and all those lands from whence pour those nameless beings "The Refugees". Because the news, too, is mostly written by the Mankell's of this world... 

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